First Pitch: Manny & the O's

When the Manny Machado-Alex Rodriguez comparisons are made, it is about all the good aspects of a young A-Rod. In Machado, many scouts reminisce a couple of decades ago when Rodriguez was the greatest prospect many had ever seen. Machado may not have as much as potential as A-Rod, but he is a third baseman-shortstop, who grew up in Miami idolizing A-Rod.

Plus, despite what you think of half-billion dollar man, he has had his share of big moments -- tainted or not -- in the bigs.

Machado, 20, is one of the center pieces the Yankees-Orioles resurgent rivalry. Since around the time Jeffrey Maier was leaning above Tony Tarrasco, the competition between these two teams has been like an early season college football schedule. The Orioles were just another Yankee cupcake. That changed in 2013.

Now, we will find out if this matchup will evolve even further and could Baltimore actually become the big brother in the fight.

On Friday night, the Orioles face the Yankees for the first time since beating Baltimore in Game 5 of the ALDS. Baltimore didn't add much this offseason, but they may still improve because guys like Machado figure to keep getting better. If he becomes near the player that Rodriguez was that would mean Machado would be a perennial All-Star.

When Rodriguez, already a star, played for Buck Showalter the two reportedly did not get a long. A scout who knows Machado thought Showalter is the perfect manager for the prodigy.

“He has a good manager who is not going to let him slip into immaturity and bad habits, thinking he has it made it,” the scout said.

Showalter taught the young Orioles not to be intimidated by the big, bad Yankees. Now, Baltimore is trying to build on last year and become the beast of the AL East.

UP NOW: Wallace Matthews with all the news and views from wet Cleveland.

ON DECK: Matt Ehalt and I will be at the Stadium for Yankees-Orioles. Your pitching matchups: Friday, CC Sabathia (1-1, 3.00) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (1-0, 2.84); Saturday, Hiroki Kuroda (1-1, 6.75) vs. Jason Hammel (1-1, 4.97); Sunday, Andy Pettitte (2-0, 1.20) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 3.75).

This weekend's series against the Orioles kick off a stretch in which the Yankees play 12 of their next 15 games against the AL East.

QUESTION: Do you think the O's are for real?