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Hale leaves Os to become Blue Jays' bench coach

Hale leaves Os to become Blue Jays' bench coach

DeMarlo Hale is leaving the Baltimore Orioles to become bench coach for new Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.

Hale spent one year with Baltimore after six seasons with the Boston Red Sox, where he served as third base coach from 2006-09 followed by two years as bench coach. He was Texas' first base and outfielder coach from 2002-05.

Toronto also said Monday that Pete Walker will move from bullpen coach to pitching coach, Chad Mottola will shift from Triple-A hitting coach to the big league hitting coach, Dwayne Murphy will move from hitting coach to first base and outfielder coach and Luis Rivera will move from coaching assistant to third base coach.

Bullpen coach remains open.

Gibbons, Toronto's manager from 2004-08, was rehired last week.

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Orioles release spring training schedule

Orioles release spring training schedule

The Orioles’ first Grapefruit League game is exactly four months from today. They’ll play the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla. on Feb. 24. Two days later, the Orioles play Pittsburgh in the first of 17 games at Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium. 

The Pirates and Orioles will play six times during spring training, twice at home and four at nearby Bradenton. They’ll play the Phillies four times — three at home — and also have four games with Detroit, Boston, Minnesota and Tampa Bay.

Other opponents are New York and Toronto (three games) and Atlanta (one game).

On Mar. 7, the Orioles will host the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team in Sarasota. 

The Orioles will conclude Florida play on Mar. 30 against the Tigers. 

Fans interested in season tickets for Sarasota games can call 941-893-6300. Single game tickets go on sale Jan. 21. 

Pitchers and catchers are set to report to spring training on Feb. 12. A minicamp will be held from Jan. 8-11. 

RELATED: Cubs' win means Orioles move up on World Series drought list

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A quarter-century old, Oriole Park at Camden Yards still setting the standard

A quarter-century old, Oriole Park at Camden Yards still setting the standard

Next year, Oriole Park at Camden Yards will celebrate its 25th anniversary, and it’s still great.

According to a survey of all 30 major league ballparks by Stadium Journey, it’s ranked the highest. 

I’m often asked about my favorite ballparks. I’ve been to 53 major league parks—all 30 current ones—and 23 no longer in use. 

Of the 30 contemporary ones, and I’m including Atlanta’s Turner Field, which will be replaced for next season by SunTrust Park, there aren’t any awful ones. 

Even some of the ones that Stadium Journey ranks among the lowest—Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field, Miami’s Marlins Park and Oakland’s Coliseum, have some redeeming features for fans. 

The park we’re most familiar with here has some competition for the top spot. San Francisco’s AT&T Park and Pittsburgh’s PNC Park have many champions and are highly rated in this survey. In particular, I’m impressed with the Giants’ home with its dynamic view of the Bay and intimate feel. 


Stadium Journey inexplicably rates Yankee Stadium 29th. Its atmosphere is great, if a bit busy, and though it’s extremely expensive, the ballpark remains impressive. 

What’s most striking about the survey is that a ballpark that’s now in middle age is still so well regarded. Most of the parks that came after it, and 21 of the 30 are newer, are still well behind Oriole Park in many ways. 

Three years ago the Braves announced they were going to replace Turner Field, built for the 1996 Olympics, and it hosted its first baseball game five years after Camden Yards. 

While that was a shock, it shouldn’t then be surprising that Texas’ Globe Life Park in Arlington (opened in 1995) and Arizona’s Chase Field (1998) may soon be replaced. 

The Orioles’ home doesn’t look much different than it did in 1992. It truly revolutionized ballparks, and those that were built just before it, Toronto’s Rogers Centre (opened in 1989) and U.S. Cellular Field (1991) look as if they’re from a different and faraway time. 

A few years back, the Orioles added a roof deck in center field, but other than that, there haven’t been many major changes though the team continues to study improvements. 

There are certainly a few things that be improved. Other than Boog’s Barbecue, the food choices, particularly for non-meat eaters aren’t great, the sound system isn’t wonderful, and compared with many newer stadiums, the scoreboard is small and sometimes hard to read. 

Watching a game at Oriole Park is still wonderful. The view is great, and while it’s disappointing when the stands aren’t full, the ticket and particularly the parking prices, aren’t terribly expensive, especially when compared with Nationals Park. 

One of my favorite parts of covering a game there are the fans. During the 2014 season, I began showing off their dedication by showcasing a jersey of a former Oriole each game.

Most fans wear a jersey featuring a current favorite: Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Manny Machado, but I enjoy finding an obscure one. 

How many other parks have fans wearing jerseys of players from 40 40 or 50 years ago? This past season, I found fans wearing Luis Aparacio, Curt Blefary and Dave McNally jerseys. 

While Oriole Park has yet to host a World Series, there’s still hope. When it was still new, Cleveland’s Progressive Field, then Jacobs Field, hosted World Series in 1995 and 1997.

At that time, it vied with Camden Yards as one of baseball’s top parks. More than two decades later, it’s fallen to the middle of the pack. 

The hope here is that 25 years from now, Oriole Park will continue to provide joy to fans in this area, and that it will still be considered one of baseball’s best.