Thoughts on left field wall, service time & more

It was a very sad day for baseball Tuesday, to say the least.

The only way I’d have any sympathy for either the millionaires or the billionaires is if I were one of them. Why couldn’t these failed talks have been held much earlier, if they knew the end of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement was coming? It kind of reminds me of the term papers I wrote in high school.

As of this writing, MLB Commissioner and good buddy to all baseball fans, Rob Manfred, said that CBA talks were scheduled to resume Thursday at the earliest. So who needs the season to start March 31, anyway?

With the season being delayed, maybe somebody up there is just trying to tell us the 11th Commandment is that baseball is supposed to start in April, not March. I am confident within reason they’ll get their differences ironed out at some point, and we will see a curtailed season starting by Memorial Day, as terrible as that thought is.

What Oriole fans will see whenever that day comes is a stadium with a facelift. Construction crews have ripped out about 1,000 seats inside Camden Yards, as O’s GM Mike Elias said would happen, and are in the process of rebuilding the left field wall, 30 feet deeper and five feet higher than the 364-foot left field power alley.

At least those workmen will have a more relaxed deadline now.

The new left field dimensions are a career break for every pitcher who plays for the Orioles from this day forward. The changes will have a fundamental effect on the mentality of the pitching staff, almost as much as if their infield were an All-Star group. Theoretically, that is.

They now know they can throw more of their repertoire without fear of a mistake being hit out. Adley Rutschman, or any warm body the Orioles put behind the plate until Adley is promoted, will know he can call for any pitch with that thought process behind it.

Any pitch, except maybe a slider or curveball with a runner on third in the late innings. But even that fear will be diminished by Adley’s ability to block balls in the dirt, which is highly rated by scouting reports.

The tricky part is that Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays and whoever else plays center and left will need to learn how to play balls off the wall, given the tricky angles and bounces, and, of course, longer throws back to the infield. The infielders may need to go out a bit farther to take relay throws, and the learning experience may result in runners confidently taking extra bases for a while  – but those things will also apply to Oriole runners and opposing outfielders.

The wall will force the team to play small ball and run the bases intelligently, two arts that have been lost on this team for many years.

Adley is not on the Orioles’ 40-man roster, which took foresight by the Orioles, and he will be playing games for Norfolk while the Major Leagues are in pause mode, with the Minor League season being unaffected. The Tides are set to open their 2022 season at home on April 5 against the Charlotte Knights.

The service time manipulation trick of putting him in the minors for about a month or less, no matter how good he looks in what will now be a shortened Spring Training. It will not even be necessary if the CBA talks keep pushing back the start of the season. How the Orioles handle Rutschman or any other prospect will pivot on whether there are service time rule changes in the new agreement.

In another week’s time, some of this commentary, and the facts it is based on, may change. So stay tuned to The Baltimore Battery’s coverage.

How do you feel about the new-look left field, service time manipulation and the current state of baseball? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter! And, make sure to use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!

Like Steve’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @katzstv

Published by Steve Katz

I started following the Orioles the year of the Frank Robinson trade, and I'm just as intense now as ever, in spite of the circumstances of the last few years. UMCP graduate, former reporter, editor and blogger.

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