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Davis: “It almost feels like I have something to prove again”

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis held court in the clubhouse a few minutes ago and I’ll have a full story up on Orioles.com shortly. Here are some of the highlights…

On being back at camp…

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a number of months now, for obvious reasons. I”m just excited to get out there and get back to what I know. And put all this stuff behind me.” 

On if he has a chip on his shoulder…

“I think I kind of keep a chip on my shoulder. My mindset is so much different this year. After you have a big year you come in and you kind of question, ‘Do I need to change anything? Do I do everything the same? How do I out-do myself?’ And I think a lot of times you end up working against yourself and that’s kind of what happened last year. Obviously with the injury early on I pushed a little too hard to get back and didn’t give myself enough time to heal. But with everything that’s gone on and the time I’ve had off, it just lit a fire underneath me and I definitely have a different mindset coming into this season. I almost feel more confident this year than I did last year, which is kind of ridiculous to say. It’s just a weird thing, I don’t know how to describe it. 

Just coming off the suspension, the injury, everything last year. I was confident after 2013, but it was kind of ‘where do we go from here? do i keep everything exactly the same? do i need to change it up?’ Coming into this season it almost feels like I have something to prove again. And that’s a good spot for me to be in.”

On the last time he was at Sarasota League, during instructional league

“Last time I was here I was on timeout, so to speak. Even when I came back and saw the guys, I couldn’t really participate and that’s a miserable feeling. I know a lot of that was self-inflicted and to be honest with you I deserved every bit of it. But being back here and being back in the mix and knowing these guys are going to count on me and being able to actually make an impact, it means a lot to me.”
On his batting average last season…

“I always feel like if I’m swinging the bat well, I’m going to carry a good average and the home runs are going to be there, the RBIs are going to be there. I think the thing that really killed me was early on obviously the oblique but I was carrying a decent batting average and I actually had a good number of RBIs, but my home runs were down. It was cold. There were some balls you hit that didn’t leave and you kind of start second-guessing yourself. The worst thing I could have done was go out there and try to hit home runs and I did that, and you saw the effects of that on my average. There was no doubt that was extremely disappointing. I know I’m way better than a .196 hitter and hopefully go back out there and prove it this year.”

On what he’s learned the past two years..

“I think having the game taken away from me, you learn how fragile it is and how important it is and really what a blessing it is coming here and doing what we do every day. I think I had kind of taken that for granted last year and obviously got away from the things that made me successful. It was a pretty quick reminder of how fragile it is and how privileged we are to be here every day and I won’t forget that.”

On getting a TUE for a different drug…
“Yeah, the name of the drug is Vyvanse. It’s basically a more sophisticated version of Adderall and it’s kind of the new thing the way it’s introduced to the body. I’m not really going to get into specifics because I don’t want to quote medical terms that I have no idea (about) and just show my ignorance.  I like the way it works and I think it’s something that’s helped me away from baseball and hopefully it will continue to help me.” 

On if he thinks addressing team again is necessary…
“I don’t. Obviously not being able to come to the field last year, I did certain things to voice how I felt and apologize, but I think the biggest thing for me is to move forward. I think the quicker we put this thing behind us and focus on what we need to accomplish this year, the better we’re going to be.” 

Os make Cabrera deal official

SARASOTA–The Orioles officially announced the signing of infielder Everth Cabrera to a one-year, $2.4 million deal on Wednesday, clearing a roster spot on the 40-man by designating Alex Hassan for assignment.

Cabrera is expected to meet with the media on Wednesday afternoon. Part of Cabrera’s deal includes a Minor League option, but he will be given every opportunity to make the O’s team out of camp and contribute significantly. The plan is for Baltimore to use Cabrera, who has predominantly played shortstop over his career, in the outfield some this spring to present a utility option for them. He will also get a majority of his reps at second base.

Cabrera, who lead the National League with 44 steals in 2012, has 99 stolen bases over the past three seasons and presents a different option —and perhaps a leadoff guy— for an Orioles club without Nick Markakis. Cabrera batted .232/.272/.300 with three home runs and 20 RBI in 90 games with the Padres in 2014. In 481 career games, he has hit .248/.319/.333 with 12 home runs, 128 RBI, and 136 stolen bases.

But the 28-year-old doesn’t come without some baggage. In addition to being implicated in the Biogenesis scandal, and subsequently suspended, Cabrera is facing a misdemeanor charge for resisting arrest during a Sept. 3 incident.On that day, Cabrera was arrested on the suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana and was also cited for possession. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail. Cabrera has pleaded not guilty; the trial is set for mid-April.
Still, the Orioles haven’t shied away from taking on controversial players in the past few years, adding both Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young last year, and Showalter seemed fairly confident that Cabrera would fit in with the rest of the clubhouse.
“The risk factor is very much on our side,” Showalter said Tuesday. “We wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t.”
Cabrera, who can earn up to an additional $600,000 in incentives, has also had some hamstring issues and Showalter said the team was impressed with the work he’s put in to make sure his legs are healthy and he stays on teh field. Cabrera’s arrival, which comes a week after news broke of the agreement, will make for some intrigue in camp as he competes with Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop for time in the infield.

Buck on movie night, Cabrera etc…

SARASOTA, Fla.— In advance of the Orioles first full squad workout on Wednesday the team will have their annual movie night on Tuesday, a tradition under manager Buck Showalter.

“It’s interesting to go back and look through the message you are trying to get across each year,” Showalter said of the team-created short film. “You can’t get too predictable. Got to throw a little hitch in the giddyup.”

One of the primary reasons for the night out, besides some team bonding, is to eliminate a lot of the morning meetings that typically take place at the start of Spring Training. Showalter said he tries to put himself in the players shoes and he remembers how hard it was to sit through lectures and meetings on Day 1 of camp, because all anyone wants to do is finally get back on the field.

“[Tuesday night’s activity is]  a way to eliminate all of that in a better setting, better seating, air conditioning. And a chance for me to hopefully have my last meeting of the year,” Showalter said. “We were very close to it last year. I don’t gather them too much. We do a lot of things individually in small groups. Also, you are not surprised by anything [for the first workout]. You eliminate a lot of the surprises.”

****

The deal for Everth Cabrera is not official yet, though it is expected to be on Wednesday. Cabrera spent Tuesday traveling to Sarasota and, while manager Buck Showalter never used his name, he still talked about the move to acquire the infielder.

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“The risk factor is very much on our side,” Showalter said, referring to Cabrera’s past off-the-field issues. “We wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t.”

Also important to Baltimore in the one-year deal is that Cabrera has a Minor League option, meaning he can be sent to Triple-A without being exposed to waivers.

***
Showalter caught his first look at Dariel Alvarez and Travis Snider taking some swings during informal batting practice on Tuesday. Alvarez is the organization’s  top position player prospect, while Snider is a new guy acquired in a trade from Pittsburgh. There’s always evaluating to be done, even this early.

Asked if he still gets excited for the first actual spring workout, Showalter said it’s actually gotten worse over the years.

“I don’t have anxiety about it,” he said. “I just have anticipation.”

***

The oldest pitcher in camp, Mark Hendrickson, is back with the Orioles in big-league camp after a year in independent ball and presenting himself as a left-handed relief option with a sidearm delivery.

“He’s done everything that you can do to get one more shot. And at the end of it, if it doesn’t work out, if he’s wiling we are going to get a heck of a pitching coach,” Showalter said of the 40-year-old Hendrickson. “He’s really good around our guys. He’s really made a contribution here. He’s fun to watch. He’s not going into it like this is my last swan song and getting nostalgic about it. He’s trying to make the club.”

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.

Cabrera expected in Sarasota Tuesday

The Orioles are nearly done with the deal with infielder Everth Cabrera and he’s expected be in Sarasota on Tuesday for the position player report date. The O’s should finalize the deal in the next day or two for the $2.4 million deal, which also includes another $600,000 in incentives, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Orioles EVP Dan Duquette said last week that the deal would take a little longer to get done as the club worked through some of the off the field issues with the former National League All-Star.

Besides being a player implicated — and suspended — in the Biogenesis scandal, the 28-year-old is facing a pending misdemeanor charge for resisting arrest during a Sept. 3 incident.

On that day, Cabrera was arrested on the suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana and was also cited for possession of the drug. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail. Cabrera has pleaded not guilty and the trial is set for mid-April.

Cabrera owns a career .248/.319/.333 line in six Major League seasons, and he will likely move around the diamond this spring as the Orioles try to see if he can be a fit in the utility spot. He also could be a leadoff option for the O’s, who have been looking to fill the spot since the departure of Nick Markakis.

Spring Training news and notes Day 4 (updated)

It was a quick day today as the Orioles head off to their annual charity golf tournament. Also, I’m having some trouble adding pictures and videos today so please visit my Facebook page to view them all for today: https://www.facebook.com/brittghiroli

*The Orioles are piping in noise from two of their playoff games last year to use while they work on pop-up and priority drills. Typically when they work on these things in the spring it’s quiet and obviously that’s not a good replication of during the season so manager Buck Showalter is implementing this method this year. Interesting.

*Steve Johnson did not throw his scheduled bullpen today because he jammed his right middle finger during pitchers’ fielding practice yesterday.

Johnson was waiting to get an X-Ray this afternoon, but didn’t think it was anything serious.

“It felt a lot better than it did yesterday, just got to ice it,” Johnson said.

“Hopefully it’s a day thing and [I’m back out there].”

*Here are the Orioles who did throw bullpen sessions today: Dane De La Rosa, Brian Matusz, Wesley Wright, Oliver Drake,  Chaz Roe, Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa, Jason Garcia, Chris Jones, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, Hunter Harvey, Logan Verrett.

*Caleb Joseph is back in camp today, after leaving early yesterday when his pregnant wife, Brooke, was hospitalized. Joseph said it wasn’t anything serious, just precautionary, with Brook being due on March 1.

*Rey Navarro and Jayson Nix both reported to camp today, in advance of Tuesday’s full-squad report date. Nix was a late signing and said he thought the Orioles had a good thing going. With the injury to Paul Janish, his versatility could be a factor this spring.

“What I’ve done the last few years, doing a variety of things,” Nix said of what he brings to the Orioles. “Playing all over the field, playing short, second and third mainly, but also being able to play in the outfield. Wherever they put me, I’m very versatile in that way. And whatever need arises, whatever is needed, I can fill.”

Nix has played for eight teams in seven years and has gotten a good look at the Orioles over the years.

“I remember looking back to 2012 when I was in New York and coming down the stretch that season in September, this team was really playing good and we were fighting with them down the stretch and then in the playoffs that year,” Nix said. “I could really see it turn that year. That was the first year for me playing and seeing this team win seeing and Baltimore come alive, and ever since then it’s been that way. Yeah, I’ve definitely seen it, and I know for a team to be playing like that, they’ve got to have a lot of good things going on in the clubhouse.”

*David Lough is an interesting guy to watch this spring. A lot of people didn’t notice how well he did the final four months of the season, batting .337, because of the slow start Lough had.  He suffered a concussion last spring that Lough admitted this morning lingered on and was tough to get over while on the field at the start of the year.

“It was more of a mental thing,” Lough said. “It was with me, I kind of felt it a little bit. And with baseball you got to have a clear mind a little bit. If it’s stuck in your mind, it’s just going to be worse. And that’s how it was for the first half of the season. And after that, I was like you know what? I just got to get let it go. Play baseball. And I ended up playing a lot better.”

With no Nick Markakis or Nelson Cruz, Lough will get more of an opportunity this spring. But there’s a lot of competition in camp, making the outfield situation one of the more interesting storylines this spring.

“I told Dan [Duquette] the other day, it’s the guy that they traded for,” Lough said. “And hopefully he’s here to stay.”

It was Duquette who made a bold statement at last year’s FanFest regarding Lough, telling Orioles fans that the new acquisition –who they got in a trade from the Royals– was better than the departed Nate McLouth in nearly every facet of the game. But Lough –whose concussion-like symptoms first came up during March 8’s inside-the-park homer– couldn’t shake off the spring injury, batting .159 in his first 38 games (98 plate appearances).

The early struggles didn’t help endear him to Orioles fans and Lough –despite a solid second half– had trouble climbing out of the early hole, finishing the season with a .247/.309/.385 line in 112 games.

“I was on a roll and I was doing some good things for the ball club,” Lough said of his season from June 1 on. “I felt like that was the old me, swing-wise and having my mental approach going up to the plate. It’s just trying to bring that into Spring Training [this year] and put those first 100 at-bats from last year aside and have a good spring.”

Lough is eager to show the fans a “bit more this year” in terms of what he can do on the field. Now he just has to prove he deserves that chance this spring.

“I hope so, that Buck looks at the whole playing field here and sees what we got and feels that I’m capable of doing a lot of things to help this ball club,” Lough said. “Whether it’s leading off for the team or doing something in a starting role.”

*Travis Snider, who is a huge Seahawks fan, is also fitting in quite well at his new camp. After his club lost the Super Bowl, Snider is now indebted to Patriots fan Ryan Flaherty, who will get a steak dinner of his choosing during the season.

*MLB.com’s columnist Richard Justice took a good look at the Orioles from yesterday’s camp and you can read that here.

Spring Training news & notes Day 3 (updated)

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*Alejandro De Aza reported to camp today (early) and said there’s no hard feelings about losing in arbitration.

“Win or lose, life goes on,” he said.  “Everything is going to be the same.”

Still, those hearings can be quite contentious as the Orioles point out why he’s not worth that much and his side argues the reverse. De Aza, who was arbitration eligible for the first time this winter, said it wasn’t as bad as he had heard from other players.

“I thought it was going to be worse,” he said.

As for baseball, De Aza is excited to get  fresh start with Baltimore at the beginning of the year and he will have a more prominent role without Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz.

*Caleb Joseph left Sunday’s workout early as his wife, Brooke, was taken to a local hospital. She’s due with the couple’s first child on March 1 and manager  Buck Showalter said the hospital visit isn’t anything serious.

*Dylan Bundy is slated to start the season in Double-A, manager Buck Showalter said. Bundy threw his second bullpen session today and has no physical restrictions this spring.

*Dane De La Rosa is coming off right meniscus surgery in September, but Showalter said he thinks he will be fine. They’ll probably just be a little cautious with him early.

*New Oriole Jayson Nix is expected to report to camp Monday or Tuesday.

*Brad Brach, who is out of options, could have a “more significant role” this year. Showalter said Brach -coming off a breakout year- has a different vibe about him in camp. He’s expected to make the team’s bullpen.

*Ryan Webb has lost weight and Showalter noted that it’s good weight as Webb appears to be in better shape. It’s a big year for the right-hander, who is trying to make the team. He’ll have to be quicker to the plate than he was last year to help his chances.

*The bullpen session list today was Ubaldo Jimenez, Darren O’Day, Bud Norris, Tommy Hunter, Chris Tillman, Ryan Webb, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, T.J. McFarland, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Mark Hendrickson.

*I wrote a little bit about Hunter Harvey yesterday, (and you can see video of his first bullpen session yesterday here).

Showalter does everything for a reason. So, it’s highly unlikely it’s a coincidence that veteran pitchers Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter have been in pitching prospect Harvey’s group during Spring Training’s early workouts.

“In the PFP [pitchers fielding practice] groups, having O’Day and Hunter, if they see something I don’t do right they help me,” said Harvey, 20, who is the youngest pitcher in camp. “They’ve helped me a lot just about everything.”

Harvey threw his first bullpen session on Saturday, to quite the large crowd, and drew raves later from Showalter for keeping calm. His secret? Pretending he was having at home throwing to his regular offseason catcher, his brother Chris.

While Harvey admitted being in his first big league camp is still “pretty nerve-wracking— he has been gotten a warm welcome since arriving. He walked off the field Saturday to hand shakes from Chris Tillman and Zach Britton and Bud Norris, another member of the rotation, made it a point Sunday morning to ask about how things went.

“I look up to just about all of those guys,” Harvey said. “So, [seeing them there] was a really good feeling.”

Coming off his first full pro season, which was shortened by a right flexor mass strain, Harvey has been fully cleared since mid-December and attended the Orioles mini-camp in January.

Asked what he’s learned from his limited time as a pro, Harvey said it’s to control himself.

“In high school it’s full-go every pitch. I probably got nine or 10 starts,” said Harvey, who pitched to a 3.18 ERA in 17 starts for Class-A Delmarva last season. “In this I’m getting around 30. So, really just taking care of myself and making sure I can make it through the full season.”

Spring Training news & notes Day 2 (updated)

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*Lots of bullpen action today, but that’s also infielders Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop doing some running work pictured above. (There’s a video on my Instagram/Twitter accounts from earlier). Yes, Manny’s knee looks fine. Also, Schoop has really slimmed down and that should help his speed on the basepaths.

The Orioles had the following guys throw today: Dane De La Rosa, Brian Matusz,  Wesley Wright, Oliver Drake, Steve Johnson, Chaz Roe, Chris Jones, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa, Jason Garcia, Hunter Harvey and Logan Verrett.

Garcia, one of the two Rule 5 Draft picks, throws hard. You can hear the glove pop pretty frequently. It was also interesting to watch Harvey, one of the Orioles best young pitching prospects, throw to quite the audience. Not only were the prominent members of the organization on hand, but several players also stayed to watch. Chris Tillman and Zach Britton waited until Harvey finished to shake his hand, with Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, Kevin Gausman and Miguel Gonzalez among those who watched Hunter’s first ‘pen.

“They are engaged in the group. These guys don’t separate themselves,” Showalter said of the veterans who weren’t pitching still wanting to watch. “They are looking for an ally, they are looking for help. They want to be good.”

*Speaking of O’Day, he will be slow played this spring. As a veteran reliever he doesn’t need as much time to get ready. Lefty Brian Matusz will be stretched out again this spring, a move which helps him get a feel for his changeup.

*The Orioles won their arbitration hearing on Friday against outfielder Alejandro De Aza, which means he will make $5 million in 2015. De Aza’s side had requested $5.65 million, but he still gets a good raise from the $4.25 million he made last year.

De Aza was the Orioles only arbitration case that went to a hearing and continues the organization’s recent success in those trials with general counsel H. Russell Smouse 8-0. Acquired in an August trade from the White Sox, De Aza flourished with Baltimore and is expected to get fairly consistent playing time in the corner outfield spots this winter.

*Ubaldo Jimenez was among those who threw bullpens yesterday and the right-hander is sticking with the simplified delivery he  incorporated last year. (You can watch the video of him throwing on my Twitter and Facebook feeds.)

“My mechanics got so messed up, I was going way too far and I was losing sight of home plate,” Jimenez said of last year. “I mean, you are supposed to do that [overhead motion] and stay over. I was going way over and I  didn’t know it. I didn’t know it until they showed me.”

Jimenez’s hands are now lowered and stay there, a delivery that looks more like what Chris Tillman does. It’s not a new delivery for Jimenez, as it was something he did in the Minor Leagues. He only added the motion to go over his head as a way to stay back on the rubber in his younger days.

The new delivery worked well for the final two months of the season although it still wasn’t enough for Jimenez to be on the team’s American League Championship Series roster. Jimenez left the team during that time, which drew a lot of negative attention, though he said that it wasn’t sour grapes.

“I had some business I had to take care of personally back in my country,” said Jimenez, who returned to the Dominican Republic.  “Everything is OK. It wasn’t at that time.”

“As a player you are not going to be happy to not be on the roster, but as a player I didn’t take it that way,” Jimenez said. “I didn’t start anything and I said ‘OK, I wish them the best’. And I saw all the games. I made sure I kept myself ready in case they needed me after that.”

So does Jimenez, who went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA last year, think the O’s and their fans have seen what he can do?

“Not even a little bit. They haven’t” Jimenez said. “I cant wait [to show them].”

“As a player you are trying to do the best. The season wasn’t the one you wanted it to be, of course you aren’t going to be happy. You know you have something that you have to prove.”

Wieters on his rehab

SARASOTA, Fla.— Matt Wieters joked Friday morning that he’s going to limit the number of interviews he gives out this spring. It may not be such a bad idea as the All-Star catcher, who is coming off season-ending Tommy John surgery on June 17, will have every step chronicled in camp as he tries to be ready for the start of the season.

“There’s still a lot of ifs,” Wieters, who won’t be cleared to throw full-throttle to the bases until March 17, said of being ready come Opening Day. “God-willing, everything will keep going how it’s going and keep progressing. We’ll be two weeks for being behind the plate, especially if I’ve been able to hit and been able to really catch other than throw. It should be plenty of time if we can get those two weeks in before Opening Day. This whole year is going to be a matter of how the body feels. It’s a surgery I’ve never gone through and not many catchers have, so it’s going to be seeing how the body feels and go from there.”

Wieters threw back-to-back days, reaching up to 120 feet plus, and will take Friday off as a result. He said his arm feels great and he wants to do everything possible to make sure his body is ready for the grind of a 162-game season.

“I think I‘ve been looking forward to this spring more than any other spring,” Wieters said. “Just being able to go out there and play.”

Wieters, who was on pace for a career offensive year, underwent surgery on June 17. Exactly nine months later, he will be cleared to throw out baserunners by the performing surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

“Nine months was our best case scenario when we first did it,” Wieters said. “So far, everything has fortunately gone well enough to wear nine months is still our goal.”

Spring Training news & notes Day 1

IMG_5536IMG_5518IMG_5534IMG_5531IMG_5521IMG_5518IMG_5529IMG_5524IMG_5523   Was technically yesterday Day 1 of camp? You can make the argument. But, I’m going with today –the first official workout for pitchers and catchers– as the start of the daily blog recapping all the events. This main entry will be updated a few times a day, recapping workouts, providing pregame notes (when they start with games), pictures and other tidbits.

Some of the more newsy updates will be broken out into story form on Orioles.com, where you can always find daily video from Spring Training as well as longer features. For instant updates, follow along on Twitter. I’ll also be posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook to make getting the Orioles spring news an easy part of your daily lives.

Welcome to Spring Training 2015, everyone. And thanks, as always, for following along.

*Matt Wieters held court at his locker for a little while this morning, after throwing back-to-back days, and he will take a rest day today. Wieters is still on track to be ready Opening Day and, as I wrote yesterday, isn’t cleared to throw full-throttle to the bases until March 17.

“There’s still a lot of ifs,” Wieters said. “God-willing, everything will keep going how it’s going and keep progressing. We’ll be two weeks for being behind the plate, especially if I’ve been able to hit and been able to really catch other than throw. It should be plenty of time if we can get those two weeks in before Opening Day. This whole year is going to be a matter of how the body feels. It’s a surgery I’ve never gone through and not many catchers have, so it’s going to be seeing how the body feels and go from there.”

*Steve Johnson re-signed with the Orioles organization this winter and is pretty much good to go physically after having a spur shaved down behind his right shoulder.

“I calmed it down a little bit. I usually throw a little bit more,” Johnson said of his offseason regimen. “Mainly I’m trying to be ready for opening day and make sure that happens, but if everything goes well I don’t see myself holding back at all. I might not have thrown as much before I got here, but I may not have needed all that. I might just be fine the way I am right now.”

Johnson said comfort was a big factor in deciding to return to Baltimore as they’ve seen him pitch, as both a starter and a reliever, firsthand. He doesn’t have a preference as to his role this season and didn’t indicate that his shoulder would be better served in one capacity over the other.

*Lots of talk this morning among the pitchers regarding the new rules about pace of place (which you can read here.) One of the main concerns was how strictly the rule about batters keeping a foot in the box will be enforced, particularly among superstar hitters.

*Count Chris Davis among the early position players to arrive as the first baseman was seen in the clubhouse this morning, adding to an already-big group of early guys.

*Also, in the Maryland area….Zion Lutheran Church will hold its fifth annual baseball talk at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 23 in the church’s sanctuary, 2215 Brandywine Lane, York. This year’s event features: Fred Manfra, radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles; Mel Antonen, baseball writer for MASN and Sirius/XM talk show host; and Dan Connolly, Orioles/national baseball writer for The Baltimore Sun. The panelists will discuss the upcoming baseball season – including their thoughts on the Orioles and Phillies — and will answer questions from the audience. There is no admission fee, but a freewill offering will be taken to benefit the church’s youth attending the National Youth Gathering this July in Detroit. In addition, signed copies of Connolly’s soon-to-be-released book, “100 Things Orioles Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die,” will be available for purchase for $15 following the event. For more information, contact the church at 717-767-4673.

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