What to know before the 2022 season starts – The Mercury News

After an exceptionally long winter and short spring, Orioles baseball is back.

The Orioles played their first game of the 2022 season against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, starting a 162-game slate that for a time did not look like it would reach that tally. Like all teams, Baltimore waited Major League Baseball’s 99-day lockdown Major league players can report for spring training, which was two weeks less than usual. The result was a delayed opening day and a handful of games crammed into the schedule, but it is a striking improvement from the 60-game schedule of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, which impacted the early part of 2021.

“This is the first time in three years that we feel like we’ve got real, unrestricted baseball after several incidents that have interfered with the sport since the start of 2020,” said Mike Elias, Orioles executive vice president and general manager. said Thursday.

For those who may have stopped paying attention during the lockdown – or perhaps after last year’s 162nd game – here’s what you need to know about the Orioles’ 2022 season.

Chances are coming.

But don’t go looking for them opening day rosterBut being this figure year, a good portion of the Orioles’ much-hyped farming system reaches large companies.

Catcher Adley Ratschmann could have been on the season’s opening roster if not for the right tricep strain he got right before the major league camp last month, but once healthy, it can’t take long To prove that he belongs to Camden Yards. By the time he joins Triple-A Norfolk’s roster, it will also include fellow top-25 prospects Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle Stowers, Kyle Braddish, Teryn Vavra, Kevin Smith and Usniel Diaz, all of whom are in their prime this season. League can start. ,

“We’re sitting on top of the best minor league system in baseball,” Elias said, “and those players are getting closer and closer to joining Camden Yards.”

The lineup can be mighty…

Although Orioles are waiting for that potential group to arriveSome possible semblance of his future already exists.

Center fielder Cedric Mullins is coming off the first 30-homer, 30-steel season in Orioles history and finished in the top 10 of the American League Most Valuable Player voting. First baseman Ryan Mountcastle scored 33 home runs, a franchise record for a rookie. After an early-season hamstring strain, left fielder Austin Hays remained healthy and had another strong September.

Add in Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander, who were the most valuable Oriole recipients before Mullins, and the upper half of the Orioles lineup will be solid on a nightly basis. Ratschmann’s eventual ascension has been coupled with a possible breakout from infielders Ramon Ureas and Jorge Mateo, which will deepen it. Veterans Rugged Odor and Robinson Chirinos will also add some established appearances to a lineup that they have lacked in recent years.

But pitching remains a problem.

Left-handed John Means Will Make your second straight start of the season, a year later when he was one of baseball’s best pitchers over the course of two months and threw a no-hitter. But the rest of the pitching staff is full of questions.

Right-hander Jordan Lyles received the biggest contract that Elias has in 3 1/2 years as Baltimore’s GM, and is coming off a year in which he has thrown 180 innings, but also had a 5.15 ERA. and led the majors in home runs. The Orioles will deploy Tyler Wells, who moved closer from the Rule 5 draft pick last season, as their third starter, but will need to pair him with another bulk pitcher as he transitions to starter.

In fact, they may use that tandem approach for each of their last three starter spots. Of the group of early to mid-20s who spent time in the majors last season, only Bruce Zimmerman is assured a place in the rotation; The Ellicott City native will be the first Maryland-born pitcher to start the Orioles’ home opener in more than 50 years.

The bullpen is perhaps even more uncertain. Most of the seven true relievers on the team’s 28-man roster — expanded two places in early May, after a short spring — came to the organization via waiver claims. in Tanner Scott and Cole trade away from SulserThe Orioles left manager Brandon Hyde with only two relievers, who have more than two years of major league service time.

They’ll get some help out of the ballpark.

In its 30th anniversary seasonCamden Yards will have a facelift.

This Offseason, Orioles Picked Up Back part of the iconic ballpark’s left field wall Between the bullpen in the left field corner and the left central field, the height of the wall has increased from 7 feet to 13 feet. Changes were made to reduce the home run friendliness of the ballpark. Take your pick: Since 1992, 2002 or 2012 (and many years in between), Oriole Park has had more home runs hits than any other ballpark.

The changes are significant, with the wall running back about 30 feet in some places and taking the wall to one of the shortest and shallowest points in the league to the deepest of any park in that area. The vibrating bullpens, left-center, have a pointed angle, creating a new and unique element to the historic park.

This could be Trey Mancini’s final year as the Oriole.

Mancini was on the roster for the most recent Orioles playoff game, and he would love to play in the next. But this looks suspicious.

Despite agreeing to a contract that includes a mutual option for the 2023 season, Mancini said, “I don’t think it changes my position much, if I’m being honest.” He noted that reciprocal options are rarely taken up by either side, and thus it is likely that he will become a free agent this off-season regardless.

The Orioles aren’t expected to be competitive – there are four other teams in the American League East that won 90 games in 2021 and are able to do so again – so Mancini’s position makes him a potential trade candidate. He has held that position for much of this reconstruction, but it is pronounced under these circumstances. The Orioles also had Mancini, a natural first baseman, returning to the outfield this spring. His playing there not only adds to Baltimore’s lineup flexibility, but also lets opposing teams know they can get him out where they need to be by the July trade deadline.

Last season’s return from colon cancer made Mancini one of baseball’s best stories. This year could be his final chapter in Baltimore.

season opener

orioles@rays

Friday, 3:10 pm

TV: Masan

radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

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