As you try to work off your Thanksgiving dinner and prepare for Christmas and New Year’s, let’s look ahead to 2014 and pick out a few days that may be of interest to Orioles fans.
1) March 31 vs. Boston Red Sox
Not only is the season opener at home this year, in 2013, the Orioles began at Tampa Bay, but it’s against the World Series champions.
The Orioles’ final regular season game in 2013 was at home against Boston, and it will be interesting to see who will run down the orange carpet that Monday.
Will J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Jim Johnson all be there? Will Manny Machado be recovered from his injury to be able to join them?
Who are some of the new players who will join them?
Will the Red Sox end up keeping Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia? Will they add any players of note?
2) April 29 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Because of scheduling quirks, the Orioles have played the Pirates more than the other NL Central teams. As a National League team, the Milwaukee Brewers have played in Baltimore just once since 1997. The Chicago Cubs visited last in 2003.
It’s not because the Pirates and Orioles are linked by the 1971 and 1979 World Series. Pittsburgh last played in Baltimore just two years ago, and the Orioles visited PNC Park in 2011.
The Pirates and Orioles play two games in Baltimore in April, and play in Pittsburgh in May.
They’re also the National League team the Orioles see most often in spring training because their training headquarters is in Bradenton, just 20 minutes away.
Because of the Pirates’ rapid improvement last year, the team Orioles fans will see will be much better.
3) July 9 vs. Washington Nationals
The Orioles play home and home games with the Nationals. They’ll play two games at Nationals Park on July 7 and 8 and two in Baltimore.
Stephen Strasburg has never pitched in Baltimore in his four-season career, and last season, Bryce Harper was hurt and missed the series.
It will be the first time new Nationals manager Matt Williams will face Buck Showalter, who was his manager in Arizona for two seasons. Last year, Showalter managed against another of his former players, Don Mattingly.
The Orioles won three of four last year against the Nationals, but finished with one fewer win.
4) July 11 vs. New York Yankees
That’s right. The Orioles don’t host the Yankees at home until the series immediately preceding the All-Star break. Will the Yankees have Alex Rodriguez then?
They will have Brian McCann and maybe Carlos Beltran. It’s likely to be Derek Jeter’s final year.
Following the Yankees series, the Orioles won’t play at home until July 29. After the All-Star break, they make their three city West Coast trip to Oakland, Anaheim and Seattle.
The Yankees play in Baltimore again on Aug. 11-13 and Sept. 12-14.
5) Aug. 8 vs. St. Louis
The Cardinals are making their second visit to Baltimore in the last four seasons, and since then they’ve won a World Series, played in another and nearly played in a third.
Albert Pujols was hurt in 2011 when St. Louis came to visit. He never played in Baltimore until he was with the Angels.
The Cardinals have lots of fans, and they’re likely to be an intriguing team again next year.
Cincinnati also plays for the second time in four seasons. They’ll visit Sept. 2-4. Sept. 4 is also slated to be the first Thursday night game of the NFL season.
The Orioles have a week in Chicago from Aug. 18-24. They’ll play three games against the White Sox, have a day off and then three at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. It will be the second Orioles’ trip to Wrigley.
NOTES: Adam Russell, who pitched for Norfolk last season, signed a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. … Luis Cruz, who hit the ball Manny Machado made the great play on at Yankee Stadium, signed with the Chiba Lotta Marines in Japan.