Putting the "fun" in fundamentals

I mentioned earlier today that Nick Markakis was bunting inside one of the netted batting cages set up between practice fields. His teammates are doing the exact same thing, because the drill has been implemented as one of the new stations in camp.

"That's one of the rotations," manager Dave Trembley said. "There's five rotations out here, and either you get it first or you get it through the five.

"You guys have been with me for a while and you see that I'm trying to add some things here that will put more emphasis on the team and allow us to be in a position to win more games. It's the little things that were obviously prominent that might not have gotten done the way we wanted to get them done last year, so let's brush up on it in spring training and also emphasize the importance of them."

The failure to do the little things last season created some big issues.

"No one is ever going to sing your praises when you're doing the fundamentals correctly. It's expected at the big league level. But when they're not done correctly, there's no place to hide and it doesn't sit real good with you because it's obvious," Trembley said. "When you do the fundamentals correctly, it helps you win games, but no one ever says anything to you. But when you do the fundamentals incorrectly and you lose games, it becomes a point of contention.

"I take it real personal because I've made my bread and butter on being a guy who's taught fundamentals and been an instructor and a teacher and has emphasized that being a big part of the game. And I think sometimes when you get to this level, it's not done the way you want it to get done.

"I told the ballclub yesterday, I've got to do things better and make it better for them, and so I'm going to ask for their cooperation."

Here's pitching coach Rick Kranitz's opinion of Chris Tillman's bullpen session:

"It went very well. Even delivery-wise, I found it was as good as I've seen. It was really good. He's not going to miss a beat now, so we're just going to go right into it. We'll give him tomorrow off and go right into bating practice."

Tillman hasn't been ruled out for Monday's intrasquad game.

"I kind of want him to pitch in that intrasquad game, maybe an inning or so, but we'll see how that works out," Kranitz said. "I have to check the schedule. And after his batting practice, if he needs an extra day's rest, we'll give it to him. But if not, I fully expect him to pitch in that game. That's how well I thought he threw."

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