Spring Trainings new and notes Day 5
Today is the official report date for the position players, though most of the Orioles have been here for a few days or more. The last two guys to report, Delmon Young and Michael Almanzar, were in the clubhouse this morning. There won’t be any bullpen sessions today and tonight is the annual team bonding experience, with manager Buck Showalter typically renting out a theatre and showing an inspirational movie to the club.
*Manny Machado is among those who were in camp already and you can tell he’s just ready to get this thing going. Coming off his second consecutive season-ending knee surgery, Machado is a full-go in camp this time around and there isn’t anything baseball-wise he isn’t allowed to do.
“I see it like my first Spring Training again,” Machado said to the media scrum that gathered around his locker. “I’m that excited.”
While the big news the last time Machado had knee surgery was about changing how he ran, the All-Star said now the focus is on keeping things the same and getting back to doing what he loves.
” I’m just going out there, being myself,” Machado said. “Playing how I’ve always played. Just trying to get that feel for it again.”
Machado, limited to 82 games last year, figures to get a lot of playing time this spring. That’s perfectly fine with him.
“I’ll take as many [at-bats] as I can get,” Machado said of Showalter’s plan to get him and catcher Matt Wieters a lot of at-bats. “I haven’t played in a long time. As much as I can get, I’ll take it. I’m pumped for spring. I’m pumped to play some games. I want to get out there and play as much as I can. If I need to go on extra road trip games, I’ll go. If I have to stay back, I’ll stay back. No matter what, I’m just excited to play.”
Last spring, Machado had hoped to be ready for Opening Day, but had a setback while running and missed the first month of the season. This time around, Machado hasn’t had any setbacks and he also had the procedure earlier, which should help make the start of a season much more of a possibility.
“I think everything has been going smooth, knock on wood,” Machado said. “Everything’s been going good. I’ve just got to keep my strength up. I’ve got two brand new knees now, so it’s just time to go out there and play and keep do what I’ve been doing, stay on it.”
*Should Machado need a day off in-season, Steve Pearce could potentially be an option. Pearce brought every glove necessary to camp this year and joked that catcher Matt Wieters’ locker is only a few down should he need to present himself as a backup backstop.
After a career year last year, Pearce figures to get consistent playing time. But he could move around the field, playing in the corner outfield spots, first base and as a designated hitter option.
“It definitely will be fun,” Pearce said of being used in a versatile role. “You never know what you’re going to get. If I’m in the lineup, I’ll play anywhere.”
Pearce acknowledged there’s a rumor that Showalter wants him to get some reps at third and he will be ready should that be the case. As Showalter referenced on Monday, Pearce’s performance last year proved he can do more than be an occasional bench guy and he’ll have an expanded role for the Orioles this season. In 2014, Pearce hit a career-high 21 home runs and played in 102 games with a .293/.373/.556 line.
“Just a chance to show what I could do last year and getting the opportunity and seizing it,” Pearce said of what he was proud of last year. “It’s been a long road for me on that part but I’m just glad that I got the chance.”
“It took a while [for the 2014 season] to sink in. For me, last year was so fun for what we accomplished as a team. Not just my individual stats. How we surprised people like nobody said we’d do. When I look back on it that was probably the best for me.”
*No sign of Everth Cabrera, but he’s not expected to be made available to the media until the deal is official and announced. He was expected to be in Sarasota today, in advance of Wednesday’s first full-squad workout.
*Steve Johnson’s X-rays on his middle finger came back negative so he will try to throw a little today and hopefully a bullpen tomorrow. Since there’s no serious damage, it’s just a matter of what he can tolerate right now.