Baseball isn't quite in full swing yet. But it's close enough.
The Orioles will open up their spring slate of games on Saturday against the Braves in North Port, Fla. It's both the first game of spring training for both teams.
The game can be listened to on Orioles.com or on the MLB At-Bat app.
So here are three things to pay attention to during the first game of the spring:
1. The starting pitching
The pitching was, to be frank, atrocious last season for the Orioles. 2020 doesn't figure to showcase a large jump, either.
Baltimore will start Chandler Shepherd against the Braves, a pitcher who started three games last season in Baltimore. He allowed 23 hits and 14 earned runs in 19 innings pitched and posted a 6.63 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.
Ty Blach will pitch in relief of Shepherd. Blach pitched in five games last season for the Orioles and threw 20 ⅓ innings with an ERA 11.32.
While neither will likely make the Opening Day roster, it'll give an interesting look at what could be in store for the rest of spring training in Sarasota.
2. How much the prospects play
For most major league clubs, there's not much to get excited about for the first few games of spring training. The Orioles, though, are in a bit of a unique circumstance.
In the second year of a rebuild, the Orioles are placing their future in the hands of younger prospects, meaning there's always a chance for a few players to stand out in the first weeks of camp.
While the lineups aren't known yet, both for Saturday's game and for the immediate future, getting a glimpse at some of the younger prospects like Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson, and DL Hall is what fans have been clamoring for.
3. The return of baseball
It's not the return of baseball in the truest sense of the phrase.
The Orioles aren't going to play their top of the line prospects, or their major league club. But the first game of the spring means that baseball, officially, is back for Baltimore.
Even though the 2020 season almost assuredly won't be one that resembles any kind of contention, the Orioles hitting the field once again is always an exciting time.
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