Growing pains frustrating but necessary

The Orioles' rebuilding plan has been well documented, and it's working. The progress is subtle but noticeable and better times are ahead.

It is understandable that O's fans are frustrated the team isn't winning more now, but even while turning over the roster and getting younger the O's have become more competitive.

Going into Wednesday's game in New York, the O's had played in 42 games decided by 2 runs or less. They are competing.

But we all need to be reminded that this is a process that can't be rushed. The Orioles have five rookies on the current 25 man roster, and more are likely on the way. Rookies make mistakes. It's part of the transition from minor league prospect to major league player and it can't be avoided. Every player has to go through it and there are no shortcuts.


The first hurdle for the young players is realizing the talents that got them to the majors are good enough to succeed in the majors. It's natural for a rookie to be awed by the excellence of the competition in the big leagues. This leads to some self-doubt and the feeling they have to change their game to fit in. And every prospect goes through the process.

Brain Roberts and Nick Markakis had to go through the period of adjustment Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters are going through now, understanding how they will be pitched to and adjusting to ensure continued success.

Adam Jones was an American League All-Star this season and he is still going through the learning process as he seeks to be more consistent.

Reimold and Wieters are getting a big time education at the plate. Once the league figures out what you are good at they, avoid that and attack your weaknesses. It's up to the player to adjust, use the entire field and settle into his strengths.

The three rookie pitchers in the rotation also have to learn that certain pitches that minor league hitters might chase won't necessarily work in the majors. Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and David Hernandez have to learn how to mix it up and be unpredictable. Big League hitters love to hit while ahead in the count. Rookies might understand the best pitch in baseball is strike one, but they have to have the confidence in their stuff to go right after hitters, including the best ones in the game. If the fastball is your best pitch, use the fastball. Nibbling is a sure way to get into trouble. Big League hitters eat up pitchers who nibble.

I've always felt players learn more from adversity because they can use the failures as a building point to get better and gain consistency. And if that means a trip back to the minors for a refresher course, so be it. There's nothing wrong or embarrassing if a player needs more minor league seasoning.

And with the depth coming through the minor league system, especially pitching depth, spots on the major league roster now have to be earned and kept through performance. If not, there's another prospect knocking on the door waiting for an opportunity.

The players who will be part of the O's moving forward will figure it out through the experience of competition. But they have to go through the ups and downs. It's the part of the process that can't be avoided. Yes, it can be frustrating now. But it will be beneficial in the long run.