FanFats higlights, notes and other notables
As those of who you follow me on Twitter already heard, my laptop greeted me this morning with the blue screen of death. So, my apologies on getting up what I wanted to be an early post on the Orioles Fanfest. Here are some of the highlights, notable events and other random musings from the annual event…
*Brian Roberts was not present, as expected, but executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said he had spoken with Roberts who sent his regards to the fans in attendance. Roberts is on a workout program although –according to Duquette – the organization is going to have to show more patience on that front. Not exactly a rousing endorsement of where Roberts is at physically, but –as I’ve said many times before – they really don’t have a choice at this point but to wait and see. Robert Andino is the primary contingency plan for Roberts with Matt Antonelli also capable of playing second.
*Duquette also said the club will continue to negotiate with their four unsettled arbitration cases in hopes of avoiding next month’s hearing. I asked about whether they would continue to explore long-term deals with any of the four –Jeremy Guthrie, Brad Bergesen, Adam Jones and Andino – and Duquette said they have to worry about what they are paying these guys next year first. Translation: any Jones extension talks have probably been tabled, although the centerfielder did refute any rumors that he would be against a long-term deal and would prefer to return to the West Coast.
“I like Baltimore,” Jones said. “I’ve planted some roots here and I like working in the city. If I am fortunate enough to be here a long time, I can build trees from those roots. I’m from California, but that doesn’t mean anything about my career.”
As for any long-term plans, Jones said simply : “That’s up to them. The ball is in their court.”
For those wondering, Jones is under team control for two more years.
*Nick Marakakis expects to be limited in Spring Training until the first week of March with the Orioles starting right fielder –coming off abdominal surgery on Jan. 6 – focusing on being 100 percent come Opening Day.
*I wrote earlier this month about manager Buck Showalter’s plans for Mark Reynolds to play third base and Chris Davis to play first. (You can get a refresher on that here.) Showalter stuck by that statement today and Reynolds, to his credit, also stuck by his commitment to conditioning showing up on Saturday an estimated 15-20 pounds lighter. Davis, who opted to not have sports hernia surgery and has recovered 100 percent from the injury, said he’s very happy with the move given that he’s more comfortable at first base anyways.
*Speaking of weight loss, Tommy Hunter is down to 254 lbs and made it known that he wanted his listed bio weight changed from 280. The outspoken Hunter, who always has a smile on his face, is also on Twitter now. You can follow him @TommyGoesBoom.
*Alfredo Simon, who was in a Dominican Republic jail at this time last season, is down about 10 pounds from the end of 2011 and said he’s preparing as a starter this winter. He’s been working out mostly in Florida and his early bullpens were impressive according to pitching coach Rick Adair. Simon is an interesting case to watch this spring, particularly with so many positions up for grabs.
*Brian Matusz had a good look about him today in talking about his commitment to offseason conditioning and getting back on track. Matusz has been working out with Brady Anderson, along with Hunter, Chris Tillman and Rick VandenHurk and one of the more interesting excercises involves doing handstands to strengthen each pitchers’ shoulders. Matusz said Anderson –recently named Duquette’s special assistant — can hold the position for a solid five minutes and is hands down the most impressive. Another unexpected good handstander? VandenHurk.
*Both Adair and Showalter commented on Jake Arrieta’s early bullpens, which is an encouraging sign for the right-hander coming off elbow surgery. You can read more about Arrieta’s progression and his goals in a story I did here.
Arrieta is throwing earlier than usual to see where he’s at, and one of the more interesting conversations I had today was with Adair, who noted that they were very limited in what Arrieta could do between starts last season. The bone spur that was removed was roughly the size of a golf ball and clearly bothered Arrieta far more than he let on publicly.
*Zach Britton is the opposite; he hasn’t thrown yet and was so over-prepared last season he burnt out down the stretch. Britton has said to me before, and reiterated on Saturday, that he was in midseason form last spring and this year wants to come into camp and build off that in hopes of pitching well the entire season.
*Nolan Reimold has a chance to win the everyday left field job, according to Showalter. While the thought was Reimold would platoon with Endy Chavez, seems now there’s a way he could play his way into a starting job.
It will be a very interesting year for Reimold, who is out of options (meaning he would have to pass through waivers to be sent to the Minors) and looks as if he will get ample opportunity this season to show the organization what he can do.
*Another interesting name to watch? Darren O’Day, who was picked up by the Orioles on waivers this winter. O’Day had hip surgery last April and rushed back, only to struggle mightily upon his return. One of those outings was against Baltimore, when Mark Reynolds clobbered a pair of homers. O’Day said him and Reynolds laughed about it Friday night and he’s glad to have him on his team now instead.
The 29-year-old O’Day –when healthy– has been very successful out of the bullpen, pitching to a 1.94 ERA in 64 appearances for Texas in 2009 and posting a 2.03 ERA in 72 games in ’10. He could end up being a nice pick up off the scrap heap.