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Schmuck: Five questions as Orioles pitchers and catchers report to spring training

The Orioles officially reported to spring training Tuesday amid the usual early-spring uncertainty that has surrounded the team at this time throughout the Dan Duquette-Buck Showalter era.

Here are a few issues that stand out:

Will the Orioles sign or acquire any significant free agents in time to fit them into the early workout regimen?

They better. Duquette has promised that he’ll have the team’s rotation put together soon, but there’s no sign of any significant activity yet. The dominoes are starting to fall in the free-agent market, so maybe a few of them will fall to the Oriole roster.

Will unsigned starting pitcher Chris Tillman, who has been working out at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, suddenly disappear when pitchers and catchers begin workouts Wednesday?

Hope not. Tillman needs to stay here, even if he has to take less guaranteed money to do it. The Orioles owe him a decent chance to bounce back from his horrible 2017 season. No other team will have the same patience with him if things don’t get better quickly.

Will veteran catcher Caleb Joseph have enough hours in the day to learn every pitcher in camp (35 at the start) and also help the team’s young catchers to do that?

Joseph isn’t complaining. He’s the starting catcher for now, which is a far cry from where he was when he was considering giving up the dream of ever being that on a major league roster as recently as 2014. He’s diligent and approachable. Maybe the best guy for the job.

Will ownership consider extending the contract of either Showalter or Duquette or both to reduce organizational uncertainty going into the final year of their contracts?

Probably not, but ownership should. There is already plenty of uncertainty going forward and that could have a negative impact on the development of the team for the future. At least one of them needs to know he’s going to be here next year.

Will the Orioles avoid the nationwide flu epidemic?

If Showalter has anything to say about it. He has hand sanitizing dispensers arrayed all over the facility. The Orioles cannot afford to have a bunch of players staying home during spring training while Showalter tries to get an undermanned team ready to challenge the Goliaths of the American League East.

Important dates on the Orioles’ calendar this spring

Pitchers and catchers report: Tuesday

First workout: Wednesday

Position players report: Feb. 18

First full-squad workout: Feb. 19

First exhibition game: Feb. 23 vs. Rays, 1:05 p.m.

Final exhibition game at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.: March 24 vs. the Twins

Final exhibition game in Florida: March 25 vs. the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

Opening Day: March 29 vs. Twins, 3:05 p.m. at Camden Yards

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

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