Spring Training, Game 1: Orioles vs. Rays

And just like that, baseball is back. It’s only Spring Training games, with pitchers going 1-2 innings and guys you’ve never heard of sometimes batting in the middle of the line-up, but there are fastballs and curveballs; walks and strike-outs; line-drives, home runs, bloop singles; diving catches and errant throws… baseball.

The Orioles started off their Spring Training schedule against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Good:

* Top prospect Josh Bell took Matt Garza deep in his first plate appearance in an Orioles uniform – from the left side of the plate. Then later, he homered again from the right side of the plate against Heath Phillips. So yeah, Bell has probably made an impression on some people today. Good thing the team has commited themselves to Tejada at third, so they won’t be tempted to bring Bell up too soon based on a small collection of plate appearances.

* Nick Markakis doubled and hit a home run, but it didn’t sound like he was having the most patient at bats in the world – maybe I’m just paranoid about that now though.

* Rhyne Hughes, acquired from Tampa Bay last season for Gregg Zaun, got a small measure of revenge against his former club with a two home run day of his own.

* Scott Moore, fighting for a utility spot, also went yard (and drew a walk). The wind seems to have been blowing out, but at least the Orioles (and not so much the Rays) took advantage of it.

* Jeremy Guthrie K’ed a pair in his two innings of work.

* Three groundball outs for Cla Meredith.

The Bad:

* The top of the line-up:

Adam Jones
Cesar Izturis
Nick Markakis
Miguel Tejada

Why is Jones batting lead-off? Because he’s reasonably fast?

Why is Cesar Izturis batting second? I never, ever want to see that again. And it’s not like he needs to bat higher in Spring Training to get extra reps. After 9 years in the big leagues, we all know that he can’t hit a lick and that’s not going to change.

Why is Tejada batting fourth, given that Luke Scott and Matt Wieters are in the line-up as well? The guy may hit 15 home runs this year – he should not be batting clean-up.

* Speaking of Miggy, he committed an error at third. I guess the move is a complete failure already.

* Dennis Sarfate didn’t do all that well either, giving up a run on two hits and a walk, despite the announcers saying he was throwing in the mid to upper 90s again.

* David Hernandez gave up a home run, though he did K three in two innings of work.

The O’s beat the Rays 12-2, which obviously means Baltimore is going to finish the year in third place. The games may not mean anything, but it’s better to win than to lose (all else being equal).