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Four Takeaways From Orioles Opening Day

March 30, 2018
Here are four observations from the Orioles' 3-2 win against the Minnesota Twins on Opening Day March 29. 

1. Right-hander Dylan Bundy looks poised for success.

Overall, Bundy's spring training numbers were not very good. He went 2-2 with a 7.20 ERA over 20 innings. But, if you look behind the numbers, he had an outstanding 17-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio. 

Going into his last spring start March 23 -- not coincidentally after he was named Opening Day starter -- Bundy had a 9.00 ERA, but after throwing five innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, in which he allowed one run and struck out six, Bundy was ready for his first Opening Day assignment. 

Now I am not predicting that Bundy will win 18-20 games in 2018, but it appears the training wheels are really off this season, and he clearly knows how to pitch and execute his game plan. His seven shutout innings against the Twins were impressive. He made it look easy, striking out seven and walking one in the process.

It's only one game, but maybe, just maybe, he really is ready to fulfill the high hopes the organization had when he was drafted as the Orioles' No. 1 pick, fourth overall, in June 2011.

2. Center fielder Adam Jones is beloved in Baltimore. 

Orioles fans really love Adam Jones. Despite the amazing popularity of third baseman Manny Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop -- and all the money headed their way over the next couple years -- Jones remains a fan-favorite in Baltimore. During the introductions, the loudest ovation belonged to him.

Much will be made about this being Jones' walk year, and it may seem fait accompli that his 11th season in Baltimore will be his last. But don't bet on it. The odds indicate he'll at least live up to his contract value. While he can be hard-edged at times, Jones is a softy inside when it comes to his emotions and how he feels about Baltimore and his place in Orioles history. 

If the Orioles keep Jones, a three-year, $45 million deal with an option for a fourth year makes a lot of sense for both parties. At his age, Jones, 32, won't be in high demand from other clubs, but he will be pursued. The only issue that could keep Jones from staying in Baltimore is if he thinks the club isn't committed to winning. But the signing of right-hander Alex Cobb was an eye-opener for Jones. It shows the organization wants to win.

3. A closer controversy could be brewing. 

It's way too early to say the Orioles have a closing controversy. And Brad Brach probably deserved a better fate during yesterday's win. After things began to unravel during his fist save opportunity of 2018, first baseman Chris Davis misplayed a ball that should have been an out. But the bottom line is Brach walked two batters and gave up a two-run single to Twins outfielder Robbie Grossman with two outs, which tied the game. 

Handcuff Brach's issues with how dominant reliever Mychal Givens was and it seems like manager Buck Showalter will have a very short leash with Brach in the closer's role until Britton returns from the disabled list.

While Showalter is focused on winning in 2018, it's not lost on him the potential benefits that could come from giving Givens a taste of the closer's job. If Britton is not re-signed after this season, Givens won't be thrust into the closing role with no experience. 

4. A father-son scene.

It was very cool and unusual to talk to not one but two players from yesterday's game who also had their young sons with them. Jones and catcher Caleb Joseph had their boys in the clubhouse.

Jones' sons in particular were quite chatty and didn't seem the least bit impressed with their dad's need to discuss the team's big win with the media.

Both Jones and Joseph mentioned how special it was that their sons were beginning to understand what they do for a living.

It was a nice moment. 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox