The Baltimore Orioles will finally open the Grapefruit League schedule this afternoon with Mike Wright on the mound against Tampa. How long Wright is in the game today remains to be seen – I’m anticipating two innings. I would also expect the regular field players to be in perhaps five or six innings – maybe three turns at the plate or so. So goes MLB spring training.
This afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium the O’s are going to play perhaps the biggest baseball game in the history of western civilization. At least the biggest game for today at least. Let’s be frank; these games themselves don’t really provide players with a “big game” kind of feel, or “big game experience.” But for someone like Mike Wright, who could very well be battling for the fifth starter’s slot, it is a big game. Anytime you step on the field against another team it’s a big game.
It’s also a big game for the likes of Manny Machado and Tim Beckham. As we all know by now, Machado will be the team’s starting shortstop this year, while Beckham will be manning third base. Mark my words that at some point fans will laud Dan Duquette for acquiring Beckham. He fit in well with Baltimore almost immediately, and became a quick fan favorite. He also gets on base and is very quick. That’s exactly what the Orioles need.
However he’s played only five games at the hot corner in his career. So spring training is of supreme importance to him this year so as to get ready for the regular season. And the same goes for Machado, who will need to re-acclimate himself to shortstop. You also have Chris Davis, who’s coming off of a disappointing offensive year. However Davis claims that he’s changed his approach at the plate over the course of off season training, and will be more aggressive this year at the plate – as opposed to looking at called strike threes.
While the pomp and pageantry of spring Opening Day isn’t anything near what the Orioles will see next month at Camden Yards, it’s always exciting to see the games begin. The O’s will join all MLB clubs today in wearing the caps of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball team today during the game. That of course is the school that was attacked senselessly last week in a mass shooting.
So here we go! The Orioles take on the Tampa Rays this afternoon in Grapefruit League game one. The aforementioned Mike Wright will be on the mound for the O’s. He’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Yonny Chirinos. For what it’s worth, Tampa will be in a split squad situation today, with presumably most of their B-team heading to Ed Smith Stadium. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.