This is not the sort of start that would fill a Baltimore Orioles fan with confidence about the upcoming season.
Not that it matters a whole lot, since hardly anyone takes Grapefruit League games as anything more than an exercise in conditioning and development of muscle memory, but the O's finished spring training with an 11-13 record.
Two games under .500, when the games didn't matter much.
In case it does matter to you, though, it might be of interest to know the O's completed the 2011 spring training season with a 15-15 record, the 2010 spring training season at 12-17 and the 2009 exhibition season at 13-21.
And we all know how the regular season went after each of those spring training preps. God
Lots to look forward to, it would seem.
Particularly with the lackluster efforts by the front office in the offseason to sign a couple players with legitimate credentials. Success? Zero.
But at least it should be recognized that the Birds didn't bother to sign any high-priced superstars of old, hoping for lightning to strike one last time before they rode off into the sunset. That was a good thing.
Instead, though, the O's dealt their best pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, -- last season's opening day hurler -- to the Colorado Rockies for a couple of no-namers. They also signed a backup catcher, Taylor Teagarden; a backup outfielder, Endy Chavez; a couple of backup infielders and a handful of pitching hopefuls.
If that's not enough to sour the cream in your coffee, consider that Orioles' second baseman Brian Roberts will start the season on the 15-day disabled list, still trying to recover from a concussion he had almost a year ago. He played in 39 games last year, none after May 16. Maybe he'll play this year, and maybe he won't. Only time will tell about that.
The Orioles are kicking off their season Friday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins. The opening day starter is Jake Arrieta, he of the 10-8 record and a 5.05 ERA last season, before being shut down in August for elbow surgery.
This is a team destined to score a lot of runs. It'll play decent defense. But it's also a team, given the quality of its pitching, that will give up a ton of runs.
Whether it finishes last in its division again could depend on its ability to avoid injuries to important players and having two or three guys with career years all at the same time.
But no matter what, let's not blame Buck Showalter. He will do about as well as he possibly can given the level of talent he has to work with.
A Boston Globe writer, Nick Cafardo, evaluates major league managers before the start of every season. Given that Tony LaRussa and Terry Francona are not in the mix this year, he was forced to rearrange his ranking for the 2012 season.
His top two are hard to dispute: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays; and Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers.
Then he completes his list, three to 30. And his No. 6 is Showalter. I could easily see Showalter a couple spots higher on the list.
But here's what Cafardo says about Buck: "Tremendously prepared and pays attention to the smallest details. Runs a good program. Makes teams better. When he gets more talent, you'll appreciate how good he is."
Now keep in mind that the managers of the three or four teams in the major leagues that actually might be worse than the Orioles this season -- the Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and the New York Mets -- are well down on the list.
That speaks well for Showalter, who is a very talented manager on a team that might be the worst in the major leagues this year.
It won't be Buck's fault, though.
The Orioles were 69-93 last season, last in their division, third worst in the American League, fourth worst in all of baseball.
Without a lot of luck or a miracle from heaven, they'll struggle to do better this year.
Still, I'll keep my fingers crossed.
After 14 straight losing seasons, it's the least I can do.
Sports columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Thurs days. E-mail: lhick email@example.com.