February 2013

Spring Training news & notes Day 4 (updated)

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Chris Tillman and Jason Hammel chatting.

Chris Tillman and Jason Hammel chatting.

Nick Markakis and Terry Crowley, who celebrated his birthday today.

Nick Markakis and Terry Crowley, who celebrated his birthday today.

*The Orioles first team workout is in the books, and the O’s had their annual team surprise last night (which I blogged about here) and this year’s trip to the movies again featured a highlight film of moments from last season as well as other motivational-type stuff.

*The Orioles officially signed right-hander Jair Jurrjens to a Minor League contract on Friday night with an invitation to Spring Training, a deal that was struck after three weeks in limbo. You can read his comments on that here.

*There has still been no decision from reliever Luis Ayala in terms of whether he will pitch for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Ayala is waiting for a call from the Mexican Baseball Federation.

*Ayala, Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day will throw their first bullpens this spring today, with the Orioles trying to slow the trio down a little to start camp. They won’t pitch on regular schedules and will likely get an extra day before throwing their second side, although they won’t have their spring innings in games cut short.

“Spring Training is probably a little too long for position players, so you really monitor that except for the last week,” manager Buck Showalter said.  “Pitchers, you’ll take about everything you can get. I don’t mind having the extra innings at all with our pitchers. Especially with our Minor League guys.”

Speaking of Minor League camp, the Orioles will open a mini-camp for early workouts over at Twins Lakes on Monday, and Gary Kendall will shift over there to coordinate that.

*Others pitchers who threw bullpen session today: Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Mark Hendrickson, Pedro Strop, Daniel McCutchen, Troy Patton , Dan Schlereth, Mike Belfiore, Kevin Gausman and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Showalter, who purposely stayed away from Gausman’s first bullpen session, got a closer look today.

“He’s got a good hand, a really good hand,” Showalter said of the Orioles top draft pick last year. “He’s got a changeup that will play better the higher he goes up against better hitters. When you’re throwing an 87, 88 mph changeup in Aberdeen, it’s pretty good hitting speed. He’s got a grasp of the changeup at a very young stage of his career. That plays. It means his breaking ball doesn’t have to be that good.”

“He’s got deception in his delivery. He’s got late life. He’s got a loose arm. He’s got a great face. And he comes from a great conference [at Louisiana State University].”

*Everyone has officially reported, with Yamaico Navarro here in camp as well as outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who cleared waivers yesterday and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk and invited to big league camp.

“It was just a week of misery, just thinking about it,” Robinson said of being on waivers and not knowing where he would end up. “At the end of the day, I just want to get on the field and play.”

Robinson wasn’t allowed to be at the Ed Smith Stadium Complex premises while on waivers, so he’s been working out on his own.

“I’d rather have it as a done deal and be over with instead of going through that, because I was ready to get out here [on the field in Sarasota.],” Robinson said.  “I was going to go out here on the 12th, so I had to wait.”

[on if he was worried he wouldn’t be someplace] “I mean, I thought I was going to be somewhere else, but it’s the timing too. So I’m not really worried about it. I didn’t give up hope, I can still make it to the big leagues, and it starts here. It starts in Spring Training, I just want a long look. A long look to show what I can do at the big league level. I never really stayed in Spring Training long enough to even get somebody to look at me. Like last year I was with the Mariners, I was playing good I just got sent down. I want a long look, I want somebody to look at me and see that what I did in the Minors, it’s not a fluke. I just want to go out there and play.”

*Hardly breaking news, but Showalter did concede today that Hammel and Chen are givens on the team and Gonzalez is a safe bet as well. Tillman is out of options and should earn another rotation spot, with left fielder Nolan Reimold also on the team if healthy.

*Is there a way that Brian Roberts, Alexi Casilla and Ryan Flaherty all make the club? Showalter said it’s possible, although it’s a long shot if Roberts is healthy. Flaherty can play the outfield so he’s versatile enough to justify having both him and Casilla on the team, although Flaherty has options remaining and can be sent to the Minors without having to be placed on waivers.

“He went and played winter ball,” Showalter said of Flaherty. “I’m a little disappointed he didn’t get the number of at-bats that he could have gotten, but he did go, and he played. There’s not much not to like about Ryan. This guy was the starting second baseman in the playoffs, and I didn’t hesitate. He was up to the task.”

Jurrjens speaks

The Orioles officially signed right-hander Jair Jurrjens to a Minor League contract on Friday night with an invitation to Spring Training, a deal that was struck after three weeks in limbo. He was in the clubhouse this morning ready to go and here’s what he had to say to reporters..

[on his physical holding things up] “[There were] some concerns. Small details on contract. Just making sure everybody is happy with the contract we signed. It took a little longer than I was suspecting it to take, but I’m just happy to be here now.”

[on how much different his deal, which was originally reported as a Major League contract, is now] “A little bit tweaked, a small tweak. It’s not really a whole lot different. Honestly, I don’t know much details about it. I tried not to get into it, just let my agent do it and try to stay out of it and just worry about the things I can control about working out and getting ready and just hope for the deal to be finalized. And I’m here.”

“It was a big league deal and they adjusted it because of the concern and made it a minor league deal. If I’m out there and can stay on the mound,  I know what I can do. A lot of people know what I can do. I’m just going to come here and show everybody that I’m healthy and I can pitch again.”

“I’ve been throwing bullpens and I’m ready to go.”

[on his right knee] “The knee is fine. No setbacks this offseason. I was able to do everything I wanted to do. It felt good. I’m really happy with the way the offseason went. The physical was different and  more stressful than I wanted it to be, but I feel good.”

[on his velocity being down last year] “It was mechanics and strength in the leg. I wasn’t able to push off like I wanted to. I didn’t have the strength after the surgery. The knee was fine last year, no pain at all. Just weakness in the leg and not able to push off and get the velocity.”

[on the appeal of the Orioles] “It’s a young club. A lot of guys on this team that are hungry to get to the playoffs again and win a ring. Everybody plays this game to win a ring and go to the playoffs and play in October. Everybody wants to be the only teams playing in October. Seeing this team get to the playoffs last year, especially after a good run, it’s like, why not? Be around young guys who are hungry. I’m young and I’m hungry, too. Just trying to prove something again.”

[ on the Braves non-tendering him this winter]: “You could say they gave up on me, but that’s part of the business. They’ve got young guys in the system they wanted to give a chance. They’re cheaper. Everybody’s trying to be cheap this year. No hard feelings. It’s part of the business. You keep moving, you keep trying to do your thing with another team.”

[on being with Baltimore] “They have one of the best center pieces from catcher to shortstop to center field. Why not? If you have a good defense behind you and you’re a contact pitcher, you want to come to a team that’s good on defense. It makes it easier. When they showed interest, I was like, ‘Yeah, definitely. I want to go to a team that’s a contender.’ They play in one of the most difficult divisions, but I like a challenge and I’m ready for that challenge.”

Orioles sign Jurrjens

The Orioles officially signed pitcher Jair Jurrjens Friday night to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training, a deal that was struck after three weeks of the agreement being in limbo.

Jurrjens’ contract was held up due to medical issues regarding his right knee and the Orioles ultimately were able to get him to agree to a far less risky Minor League deal than what was drawn up originally on Jan. 25. While the figures on Jurrjens deal weren’t immediately available, it figures to be much lower than the original reported terms of a one-year, $1.5 million deal — that would escalate to $4 million with incentives.

The full story is coming shortly on Orioles.com

Showalter’s annual team surprise on tap tonight

The Orioles entire team and coaching staff will start filtering back to the Ed Smith Stadium Complex Friday night for a 6 p.m. “meeting” that marks the annual surprise manager Buck Showalter is known for.

Showalter has long been on the belief that Spring Training is not just for teaching, but also for team building and the past two springs on the eve of the Orioles first-full squad workout players have been loaded up on buses and taken to a local movie theater. While the two years films differed, the message – a motivational montage featuring clips of the Orioles playing and other famous sports sequences – have essentially been the same.

This year’s exact outing is again a mystery, as Showalter likes to add-in the element of surprise and keep things quiet, with nothing more than a vague team meeting for players to report back for.

Showalter didn’t offer any details when asked if he had another surprise in store earlier in the week, joking with inquiring reporters that perhaps he’d do something Sarasota is more known for, such as the circus or a local comedy club. While he was managing the Texas Rangers, Showalter took his team to the Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz. one spring and had the players speak to fighter pilots and watch video of them in action.

“We’ve got backups; it’s all about the entertainment,” Showalter said. “There’s a lot of pressure on a lot of us that put it together because word kind of gets around and the guys are kind of wondering whats on your sleeve. I don’t want to get too predictable.”

Spring Training news & notes Day 3

Chris Tillman stopping to get a drink in between field sessions.

Chris Tillman stopping to get a drink in between field sessions.

 

Brian Matusz throwing a bullpen session

Brian Matusz throwing a bullpen session

Brian Roberts getting ready to take some live batting practice.

Brian Roberts getting ready to take some live batting practice

*Brian Roberts was out with the team today and took live batting practice with a group that included Chris Davis, Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold. Roberts was in good spirits, laughing and joking around with his teammates, and he’s a full-go in camp right now.

“I still feel like, barring anything else, I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, but I still feel like I’m our best option,” Roberts said.  “I still feel like I can provide a lot to this team. I still feel like the guys in this room want me out there and know I can provide something. That’s the way I approach it. I approach it every day that I’m going to be the second baseman until they tell me something else.”

Roberts took live batting practice with a group that included Chris Davis, Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold and was in good spirits, laughing and joking around with his teammates as he took the field. There are no restrictions on the 35-year-old this spring, a far cry from recent camps when Roberts –who has dealt with multiple concussions – was on the sidelines, going through various progressions and rehab work.

“I tried to concentrate as much as I could on baseball and tried to get into as best of form as possible when it comes to that aspect coming in,” Roberts, who lives in Sarasota, Fla. year-round said of his offseason workouts. “I’m definitely farther along when it comes to that part of it, even though I haven’t played a lot. I feel like I’m in a really good spot baseball-wise, especially considering what’s transpired the last couple of years.”

Showalter has had some really good early conversations with Roberts and if he’s healthy he will be the Orioles second baseman.

“There are some really good things that are going on in his life right now that have been a challenge,” Showalter said of Roberts, who hasn’t played a full season since 2009.  “I never say never about hitting the bottom, but there are just a lot of arrows pointing up for him. There are a lot of arrows pointing up for him…He’s said to me that he hasn’t been physically or really mostly mentally where he is right now in a long time.”

*A year ago, Manny Machado wasn’t officially in big league camp, his locker tucked away in the auxiliary clubhouse behind the Major Leaguers.

This spring, the 20-year-old Machado –fresh off an impressive rookie campaign – is penciled in as the Orioles’ starting third baseman, a position he’s still learning but one he will get every opportunity to succeed at.

“It’s still tough,” said Machado who made the move from shortstop to third base when he was promoted to Baltimore on Aug 9. “I’m not really used to it, comfortable with it. But it definitely does help that I played it before going into [this season]. I still feel like a shortstop, but it’s kind of a good thing sometimes instead of just thinking like a third baseman.”

Machado has been doing infield work with third base coach Bobby Dickerson and the emphasis is on continuing to shore up his defense at third, where he posted a .967 fielding percentage in 51 games, committing five errors in 151 chances.  Showalter made it clear that Machado won’t be an option at shortstop to back up J.J. Hardy this spring, with Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla two in-camp options for that.

*Guys who threw bullpens today: Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Todd Redmond, Adam Russell, Dylan Bundy, Zach Clark, Steve Johnson, T.J. McFarland and Mike Wright.

It’s always hard to tell how guys look in bullpens, especially early in spring, but Britton looked like he was throwing the ball well next to Redmond and Russell. Britton was in extended spring last year and his left shoulder was never quite right until this offseason.

Catcher Matt Wieters made it a point to tell Britton that he was impressed with his stuff this afternoon and he’s definitely an interesting guy to watch going forward. Matusz also looked crisp, with pitching coach Rick Adair shadowing in the batters box briefly as he threw.

*Nothing is new on the Jair Jurrjens front as the two sides remain in limbo on an agreement held up for medical reasons. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette didn’t seem optimistic anything would be done before the week ends but acknowledged “it’s time to get it resolved.

*Luis Ayala still has  not made a decision as to whether he will pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Team Mexico, but said he hopes to know tomorrow.

Ayala, Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day have yet to throw bullpens in camp, as the Orioles try to slow them down a little bit this spring to keep them fresh.

*Top infield prospect Jonathan Schoop was in camp this morning, the first time he’s been here  with the position players, who are supposed to report by today.

*Yaimaco Navarro –the only guy unaccounted for –has yet to report but technically has until tonight to do so.

Spring Training news and notes Day 2 (updated)

Buck Showalter with his traditional look in spring.

Buck Showalter with his traditional look in spring.

Pitching prospect Kevin Gausman throwing his first bullpen as a pro.

Pitching prospect Kevin Gausman throwing his first bullpen as a pro.

Mark Hendrickson and his new sidearm delivery.

Mark Hendrickson and his new sidearm delivery.

*Those who threw bullpens today: Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Mark Hendrickson, Pedro Strop, Daniel McCutchen, Troy Patton, Daniel Schlereth, Mike Belfiore, Kevin Gausman and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Gausman has been given the nickname “Dunkin” by reliever Darren O’Day, a moniker which refers to Gausman’s habit of eating powdered donuts in between innings when he pitches.

As for adjusting to big-league camp, Gausman –who has his locker positioned by O’Day and closer Jim Johnson—seems to be fitting right in and taking the good-natured ribbing in stride.

“There’s no rookie hazing,” Showalter said. “I heard a couple of guys asking him to get them a drink of water. I haven’t done that. [Top pitching prospect Dylan] Bundy was kind of an experienced receiver of that, kind of helped him.”

O’Day and Johnson are two guys that are being held back a little this spring, and manager Buck Showalter said they are a day or two away from throwing bullpens as the team tries to keep those guys fresh for the entire season.

*Hendrickson threw his first bullpen, showing the sidearm delivery that he’s been working on. Hendrickson has also started throwing a slider for the first time in his career and the non-roster invitee –who is trying to reinvent himself– has been encouraged by the early results.

“For the seventh time on the mound, it feels very natural,” said Hendrickson, who threw to college hitters over the weekend before reporting to camp. “Obviously, there’s going to be times I need to kind of incorporate some of the things they’re trying, but if you talk to Rick in the first two days I threw in Baltimore, it was exciting to see how quickly I picked up some of the stuff we talked about on Wednesday, and then when I came back and threw on Friday. But the key for me, too, is getting some games where it’s just time to compete.”

*Yamaico Navarro remains the only player on the Orioles spring roster to report.

*Adam Jones will leave camp for Team USA on March 3, and he’s one of possible three Orioles who will participate in the World Baseball Classic. Reliever Pedro Strop will pitch for the Dominican Republic while Luis Ayala will decide by tomorrow whether to accept the invitation to pitch for Team Mexico. Ayala has not thrown a bullpen yet this spring, but he’s coming off a winter ball season and is already in game shape.

Jones will play in a lot of the Orioles’ early spring games he said, while Strop expected to get 2-3 innings in a game before leaving.

*Tsuyoshi Wada (Tommy John surgery) is slated to throw off a flat mound on Feb. 25.

*Outfielder Trayvon Robinson has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. Robinson has been invited to Major League Spring Training and has a locker set up here in the clubhouse already.

*Orioles pitcher Zach Braddock will be slowed to start Spring Training as the non-roster invitee is rehabbing back from surgery in July to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Braddock, a non-roster invitee who signed with Baltimore in mid-December, started a throwing program last month and doesn’t have an exact timetable for getting up on the mound yet as he continues to build up arm strength.

“With these kinds of things you plan for whatever is going to happen and err on the side of caution,” said Braddock, who has been working with pitching rehab coordinator Chris Correnti on a progression to throwing bullpen sides. “I think the team and I both expect to just progress as smooth as we can.

I’m happy with where I’m at. I think the general idea is mutual with the understanding of just preparing me to become an asset for the Orioles.”

For more on Braddock, who was diagnosed with the labrum tear in 2009, see the full story on Orioles.com.

*The Orioles will host five Division I college baseball teams for the Snowbird Classic at Ed Smith Stadium and the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex this weekend, Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17. Five college teams – Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University, St. Johns University and Mercer University – will play games at Ed Smith Stadium from Friday through Sunday. One game, on Sunday, February 17, will be played at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park. Over 6,000 fans are expected to attend the three-day event.

Day passes for the games can be purchased for $10 by calling 941-893-6300. Tickets may also be purchased at the Ed Smith Stadium Box Office, which is open Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Parking is available for $5 per vehicle in the East lot at Ed Smith Stadium.

*A reminder that you can find more photos by following me on Instagram (brittghiroli), as well as continuous updates on Twitter (@Britt_ghiroli).

Pedro Strop and Miguel Gonzalez take a moment to ham it up.

Pedro Strop and Miguel Gonzalez take a moment to ham it up.

Troy Patton making an entrance.

Troy Patton making an entrance.

Daniel Schlereth and Daniel McCutchen.

Daniel Schlereth and Daniel McCutchen.

Catcher Matt Wieters.

Catcher Matt Wieters.

Spring Training news and notes Day 1

Officially, the Orioles began Spring Training this afternoon, taking the field right around noon with their new Spring Training hats (with the orange on the front) on display.

Manager Buck Showalter and EVP Dan Duquette watch the pitchers

Manager Buck Showalter and EVP Dan Duquette watch the pitchers

machado flaherty and reimold matusz arrieta hunter so it begins

*Nolan Reimold said all went well with yesterday’s live hitting session, which was his first since undergoing neck surgery, and he was part of two groups that hit on the field again today. Reimold is standing behind the cage in the second photo, watching along with Manny Machado as Ryan Flaherty takes a few swings.

The Orioles had to split up the hitting sessions because they have so many position players who are here early working out. The only player who has yet to report on the entire spring roster is infielder Yamaico Navarro, although manager Buck Showalter said to reporters today he’s pretty sure Navarro is in the city.

*Tsuyoshi Wada is about 3-4 weeks away from throwing bullpen sessions and he said this afternoon that it’s “a possibility” he gets into a Spring Training game before camp ends. Wada took part in drills with the team today, but didn’t do any of the throwing part.

*Pitchers who threw bullpen side sessions today: Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Todd Redmond, Adam Russell, Dylan Bundy, Zach Clark, Steve Johnson, T.J. McFarland and Mike Wright.  (Matusz, Arrieta and Hunter are pictured throwing above.)

McFarland, the Orioles’ Rule 5 Draft pick, stood out in particular to manager Buck Showalter and he will get a look as a starter this spring.

“He was impressive,” Showalter said.  “It’s kind of nice. You see so much tape of these guys coming in and you read so many reports, and to be able to actually see them live, it’s always a different look. Quickly, you can see why he’s had success, the deception he has in his delivery. Same thing with Clark. You look at the year Clark had last year. It’s very easy to kind of get lost in the shuffle. He had a big year. But McFarland was maybe a guy who caught my eye today.”

With the crowded rotation competition, it’s possible McFarland becomes a bullpen option later in camp.

“That’s why we’ll stretch him out early,” Showalter said. “We can always go either way. It’s a good year [with the WBC making more a longer spring] to have a Rule 5 pitcher that you want to see, because you can get a lot of looks at him.”

*New Oriole Danny Valencia reiterated on Wednesday afternoon that he has never used performance-enhancing drugs in response to a report earlier this month that mentioned Valencia as one of three new names linked to the Biogenesis clinic alleged to have distributed PEDs to Major League players.

“Basically I’ve never had any contact with those people,” Valencia said of the Miami-based clinic, which has been linked publicly to about a dozen players. “I’ve never met [clinic operator] Tony Bosch, never seen him, never been to that clinic, never heard of that clinic until the [Miami] New Times story first broke. That being said, I’ve never ever taken a PED in my life, never failed a drug test in my life and I never will.”

According to the Yahoo Sports report that implicated Valencia, he does not have his name appear next to any specific PEDs on the list, and his name is scratched out on the bottom of the paper. Major League Baseball is currently investigating the clinic.

“When I first got the phone call, I knew I was going to be in the clear, I knew I’m not going to get in trouble because there’s nothing they are going to find on me,” said Valencia, who said he was shocked when he was told he was listed in connection with the clinic.  “I’ve never done anything. But the only thing that bothered me at the time was how the Orioles organization is going to perceive [it]. I thought about what [executive vice president of baseball operations] Dan Duquette is going to think, obviously what [manager] Buck [Showalter] is going to think, my teammates. That’s what matters. That was my first feeling, I felt upset about that.”

*Non-roster catcher Jose Gil, who was having visa problems, got his clearance and is expected to arrive in camp in the next two to three days.

*The Orioles will host five Division I college baseball teams for the Snowbird Classic at Ed Smith Stadium and the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex this weekend, Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17. Five college teams – Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University, St. Johns University and Mercer University – will play games at Ed Smith Stadium from Friday through Sunday. One game, on Sunday, February 17, will be played at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park. Over 6,000 fans are expected to attend the three-day event.

Day passes for the games can be purchased for $10 by calling 941-893-6300. Tickets may also be purchased at the Ed Smith Stadium Box Office, which is open Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Parking is available for $5 per vehicle in the East lot at Ed Smith Stadium.

*A reminder that you can find more photos by following me on Instagram (brittghiroli), as well as continuous updates on Twitter (@Britt_ghiroli) and Orioles.com.

*Orioles closer Jim Johnson talks about raising the bar for 2013 in a video interview here.

Pitchers and catchers report date- news & notes

Sarasota outside

Greetings from Sarasota, where pitchers and catchers officially reported to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla in advance of tomorrow’s first workout, which will start around noon. The players have morning physicals and have to be cleared before starting camp, so the Orioles won’t  have any media access until post-workout on Wednesday. Thursday will switch back to the regular schedule, with the players set to take the field at around 9:15 a.m.

The Orioles have 60 players listed on the roster for Major League camp, including outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who was designated for assignment –which puts him on waivers– on Saturday to make room for Todd Redmond.  Robinson is still waiting to see if he was claimed by another team, although he did report to Sarasota.

The status of the Orioles’ agreement with pitcher Jair Jurrjens also remains in limbo with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette saying Tuesday that he hoped to have a resolution within the next few days.

“We are still working on that issue, we don’t have that resolved yet“, Duquette said of Jurrjens, who underwent a length physical given his injury history in regards to his right knee.  “But hopefully we will have that resolved within the next couple days.”

The Orioles originally agreed to terms with Jurrjens on a one-year, $1.5 million deal — that could escalate to $4 million with incentives — on Jan. 25, but there has been no official announcement and Duquette didn’t elaborate on whether it’s possible those terms could change.

“This is an issue that just takes a little more time in the process,” Duquette said. “But hopefully we will get it resolved.”

An All-Star in 2011, Jurrjens went 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA last year and was non-tendered by the Braves this winter, effectively becoming a free agent. Should he join the Orioles in camp, Jurrjens would compete in an already-crowded rotation picture that includes Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Steve Johnson, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Tommy Hunter and Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland. Top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will get a good look, but they aren’t expected to be part of the Opening Day rotation.

Manager Buck Showalter, who held court along with Duquette, said Matusz and Hunter will get spring starts. The pair of pitchers could be bullpen options, but –like Bundy and Gausman– will get a look this spring as starters and there will be plenty of innings to go around early as guys are eased back in.

Bundy and Gausman will have their innings monitored all season and will not be shut down early, with Showalter noting that the pair of top prospects will be available to the organization in September and October.

“That’s how I’ll answer it,” Showalter said of the possibility of having Bundy in Baltimore to start the season. “How we get [to September and October], we’ll see. I know that on the front end of it, we’re going to get ahead of it. Does that mean I’m not pulling for [Bundy] to make the club?  I’m not saying it’s a longshot. We’ve got a lot of innings here for pitchers, so everybody is going to get a long look, including him.”

“We’re probably at 9, 10, 11 guys that we’re looking at [in the rotation]. You’ve got to say ‘What if?’ If [Jason Hammel] has a knee issue or Miguel [Gonzalez] has some issue or [Wei-Yin] Chen or something. We’ll be able to move in a lot of different directions. I like our depth. I like that we have people in a good position. Steve Johnson, I don’t want anybody to forget about him. He did some good things for us last year, and I know I’m going to forget some people – [Jake] Arrietta and [Zach] Britton. It’s going to be intriguing to see how it plays out, but we’re also keeping that maneuverability. We’re not going to penalize people. We’re not going to penalize a guy and send him to Triple-A because he’s got an option. If he has that type of year, we’ll figure it out. I think our guys understand that we’re going to take the best 25.”

Buck on podium

A few other notes from today…

*Nolan Reimold hit off live pitching for the first time today and he will be a full-go in camp. Showalter noted that Reimold has a good edge this spring and seems eager to prove himself in the organization. Coming off season-ending neck surgery, Reimold will be monitored closely but doesn’t have any restrictions on him.

*Tsuyoshi Wada is on a long-toss program and there’s been all positive reports regarding the lefty’s progress in coming back from May’s Tommy John surgery. He isn’t expected to return to the Orioles until at least May, and the club should have a better idea of his timetable moving forward.

*Brian Roberts has been working out at the complex and is also expected to be a full-go in camp. He’s been able to do more than in winters past in terms of baseball activity and there’s some growing optimism regarding his status.

*The Orioles will have intrasquad games on Feb. 20 and 21 in advance of their first game on the 23rd. The game on Feb. 20 will likely start at 10:30 a.m. and be played on the back fields while the 21st game will be simulate spring game with a 1:05 p.m. start on the main field at Ed Smith Stadium.

*Non-roster invitee catcher Jose Gil is having visa problems and will report late to camp. There’s always one every year.

*Most of the position players are here including Roberts, Reimold, Xavier Avery, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis, Alexi Casilla, Russ Canzler, Ryan Flaherty, Jason Pridie, Lew Ford, Steve Pearce and Conor Jackson.

Another season begins

Greetings from Sarasota, Fla. where I won’t bore you all with a weather update, but just casually mention it’s supposed to be in the 70s all week.

The Orioles pitchers and catchers will officially report to the Ed Smith Stadium Complex tomorrow with their first workout scheduled for Wednesday –following player physicals– beginning at noon. For those interested, those take place on the back fields and are open to the public to watch. It’s hard to say how long workouts will run, especially with manager Buck Showalter, but it shouldn’t more than an hour or two on Wednesday.  Thursday switches back to the Orioles regular spring schedule, where the players take the field around 9:15 a.m.

The position players report on Friday with the team’s first full-squad workout this Saturday.

This year’s Spring Training schedule will be different with the World Baseball Classic taking place, and the Orioles will lose a trio of players temporarily in centerfielder Adam Jones (Team USA), and relievers Luis Ayala (Team Mexico) and Pedro Strop (Team Dominican Republic) although exactly when and for how long is still not set in stone.

Already from years past it seems to have a different vibe this spring, as–at least in my opinion– it seems more fans are turning their attention toward the Orioles early in the year. I’ve been asked in the last few days what I’m most excited for this spring, what positions are up for grabs and how the players will react to the team’s lack of offseason moves. I think the starting rotation competition will be intriguing to watch as will what will happen with left field between Nolan Reimold and Nate McLouth. As for the player morale, I can’t say for certain yet –the media won’t have clubhouse access until Wednesday morning– but I’d be very surprised if it’s not an upbeat, confident and cohesive group. That’s just how Showalter does things and it trickles down to the players.

In case you missed it, I wrote a preview for Spring Training with some important dates, roster projections and questions heading into camp. You can read the full story here.

So, what can you expect in terms of coverage this spring?

I got a lot of positive feedback last year about the daily camp blog post  featuring photos, injury updates and other tidbits, so I’ll continue to roll out something similar to that this year. This will be my fourth year on the Orioles beat and you can expect daily features and notebooks up on Orioles.com as well as the up-to-the-minute coverage on Twitter that you get during the season. You can follow me by clicking here: https://twitter.com/Britt_Ghiroli

Some of you who follow me on Twitter may already have noticed I started to use my Instagram account midway through the year to share pictures on and off the field while traveling with the Orioles. This year, I plan on integrating that into my spring coverage. If you have Instagram you can find me at brittghiroli. While I’ll still post daily pictures up on this blog, there will be more on that account and as we progress during the season photos of different stadiums, cities, food, etc. I’ll try to limit the Michigan State stuff but those of you who follow me on Twitter know I have a hard time not boasting/annoying everyone when it comes to my alma mater. There will also  be daily video up on Orioles.com, including various player interviews, and I’ll spend a few days again this year at Minor League camp to update you on what is going on there.

Finally, if you have a question, comment or story/feature you’d like to see, don’t hesitate to leave me a note on here or send me an email at brittany.ghiroli@mlb.com. Let’s have some fun this spring.

A few more notes

*The Orioles will conduct an open tryout to find ballgirls and ballboys for the 2013 season at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Saturday, March 9.

Outgoing and athletic men and women ages 18 and older who are interested in serving as ballboys and ballgirls for the Orioles during the upcoming 2013 season are invited to try out for a position at Oriole Park beginning at noon on March 9.

Those interested should dress casually, bring their own gloves, and use the Home Plate Plaza entrance to Oriole Park on the southwest corner of the ballpark. Resumes are also recommended. Complimentary parking will be available in Lot A.

In addition to being able to handle a glove and field ground balls, interested candidates should be personable, customer-service oriented and available to work the entire 2013 season.

*The Orioles have two players, Brenden Webb and Michael Ohlman, in the Australian Baseball League.  Their them, the Perth Heat, are playing in the Championship Feb 8 – 10.  Ohlman is a first baseman and through 43 games is hitting .317/.372/.527 with six homers and 27 RBIs, while Webb –who has primarily played right field– is hitting .190/.365/.466 with five homers and 10 RBIs in 18 games.

*In case you missed it, my colleague at Indians.com –Jordan Bastian– did a nice job chronicling the interesting winter of Russ Canzler, who was claimed by the Orioles (his fourth team this winter) earlier this week.  You can read that story here.

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