Near the end of spring training, major league teams will sometimes schedule an exhibition match against a local minor league or college squad. It provides for some local buzz, the minor league team gets to say they played against major league talent, some money often goes to charity, and everyone goes home happy. Except the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles played yesterday against the Manatees of the State College of Florida in Sarasota, and proceeded to lose 2-1.
OK, fine, the above is a little unfair without some context. The Orioles supplied the Mantees with their pitchers and catchers (including "Raking" Ronny Paulino), and Baltimore regulars including Matt Wieters and Adam Jones checked out after five innings. This was more an intra-squad scrimmage than a pro-am showdown. The day before, against actual college pitching, the Orioles scored seven runs off Division II Florida Southern in the bottom of the first, leading the umpires to call mercy and end the inning with nobody out.
Still, the O'Manatees hitters scored more runs against Baltimore pitching than the Orioles hitters could. The box score may look weird, but it says the road team won.
"It's a tradition here," said assistant coach Tim Hill II, who will take over as head coach following his father's retirement. "We pride our program that we're the only junior college program that can play a major-league team. A lot of JC's will play some of the minor-league teams. And we're the only ones that can step on a big league field here in spring training and play a game like this. We're really excited (Baltimore manager Buck) Showalter played all his guys."
Photo by Grant Jefferies of the Bradenton Herald