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Orioles Show Good, Bad, and Ugly in Spring Training Intrasquad Game: A Fan’s Take
The Baltimore Orioles made their return to the diamond March 3, playing their final intrasquad game. Starting March 5, the team will return to playing other major league foes. It is nice, however, to get an early reading of where players are at as they head for games against real opponents.
Sunday's game showed Baltimore fans plenty of good signs, with a few that might be less than encouraging.
We might as well start of with the ugly side of it. After all, Orioles fans cannot expect that every new acquisition is going to make an impact. The unfortunate part is there are some that the Birds are certainly counting on, and Wei-Yen Chen falls into that classification. The left-hander started this intrasquad tilt and only lasted two-thirds of an inning.
According to Roch Kubatko, Chen through upwards of 30 pitches in that short stint. He walked a man, gave up two base knocks, and had a run scored against him. He did record a strikeout, but that was little cause for celebration. The team looks to him as a possible starter, and that makes this outing quite concerning. Baltimore needs guys that eat innings, not cause the bullpen to consume more.
Then there is the never-ending saga of Chris Tillman. To me, Tillman is a guy that seems to have all the potential in the world. The problem is that potential does not add up to results in the big leagues. Chris has made starts for the O's, and on occasion has looked extremely productive. He just cannot seem to produce those results on a consistent basis. He pitched an inning in the game March 4, but walked a batter and went to predictable full counts on two others. He likely is heading for Norfolk again.
Let us now examine some of the good things that occurred. Nick Johnson banged out a couple of base knocks for his team. This would be an exciting bonus for the team if he can return to form. I remember watching him with the Nationals, and he was a solid contributor when healthy. It would be great to have that bat on the bench, or possibly start him at first if need be.
The team produced a couple of home runs, highlighted by a blast from J.J. Hardy. The shortstop was one of the team's best hitters last year, so it would be terrific if he continued that power surge. One of the utility infielder signees, Steve Tolleson, also hit a two-run homer. Perhaps the most exciting part of the game came in the appearance of Dylan Bundy.
Bundy was the team's top draft pick last season, and a sizable hope for the future. Given the Orioles' propensity for missing on high picks, one can understand how fans might be timid in praising these guys. Bundy might be ending that streak of misses by the O's scouting department. He came in and blew away Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds like they were not there. Matt Wieters could do nothing but send up a lazy fly.
It would be so exciting to think we had a legitimate pitching prospect in the minors. It would give the fans hope that all these years of struggles for Baltimore might have an upside in the near future. It was only one outing, but Bundy sure looked sensational his first time out.
Though a Washington native, John Atchison grew up a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. Many think he should now become a Nationals supporter, but he says the Black and Orange is where he will stay! Follow him on Twitter @John_Atchison.
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