Play Ball! These are the two favorite words for baseball fans to hear after the long winter break! Spring training started a little over a month ago in Florida for both the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles. After spring training and a number of Grapefruit League games, the teams are setting their final rosters to get ready to start playing regular season games next week. To steal from the NFL: “Are you ready for some baseball?” I know that I am!
The Baltimore Orioles under manager, Buck Shuwalter, have had a good spring training camp. As of March 24th, they are 12-7, which is 3rd in the American League Grapefruit League. The Orioles are in the very tough American League East Division against the powerhouse Yankees, World Champion, Red Sox, and always good Tampa Bay Devil Rays. During the off-season, the Baltimore Orioles signed free agent pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez and outfielder, Nelson Cruz. The Orioles have always had a very powerful offense, which in 2013 featured Chris Davis, who led the league with 53 home runs last year. With the addition of Jimenez, the Orioles hope to improve their pitching rotation and overall club ERA, which was very high for the 2013 season. The team is also watching for the maturing of young player, Manny Machado, and hopes he can improve on his 2013 season. The Orioles opening day is March 31st against the Boston Red Sox at 3:05pm at home at Camden Yards. Chris Tillman will be the opening day pitcher.
The Washington Nationals will soon be closing up spring training at the Space Coast Stadium in Viero, Florida. As of March 24th, the team has a 12-12 record, which is in the middle of the pack for the National League teams in the Grapefruit League. Last year, the Nationals were expected to build on a great 2012 season, but alas, that did not happen and the team did not make the playoffs in 2013. In 2012, the team won 98 games, but this past year, they went 86-75. It was still a winning record, but not what the team was capable of achieving. Under first time manager, Matt Williams, the Nationals hope to have a great 2014 season. The Washington Nationals roster has a good portion of returning players including a great starting pitching rotation of Stephen Strasberg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Doug Fister. Young player, Bryce Harper is primed to have a great second year in the major leagues. The Nationals start the season in New York against the Mets on March 31st. Stephen Strasberg will get the honor of being the opening day pitcher for the Nationals. The Nationals opening day at Nationals Park is Friday, April 4th at 1:05pm against the Atlanta Braves.
The Baltimore, Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. areas are lucky to be able to have both American and National league teams close by to cheer for. Good Luck to both teams for the 2014 season! It’s a long season, but here’s hoping both teams will make it to October baseball.