President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said he doesn't particularly care for the process of renewing players' contracts, but it's part of the system that's been around for a while.
"I think we counted over 200 guys who have been renewed in this last CBA," he said. "If I could create my ideal system, this wouldn't be it, but this is just the way we operate. It's the same system that's been in place here since the CBA. And I think, to some degree, it's a byproduct of having young players who are achieving more."
MacPhail doesn't believe there will be hard feelings among the four players who were renewed: Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Matt Wieters and Jason Berken.
"It is what it is," he said. "The last guy we did this with was (Nick) Markakis and we negotiated a multi-year deal. Players and the agents are awfully sophisticated. They understand what the system is and where the leverage is at different points of their career. It's just one of those things. I would expect that the players would exercise the leverage when they have it. I think that's what they should do, and the club's got to do the same."
The Orioles are expected to negotiate a long-term deal with Jones in the same manner as Markakis.
"Philosophically, just like with Nick, that conversation didn't come up in the negotiations. But to me, when that player hits the third year of service, that's when we got serious with Nick," MacPhail said. "I think that gives you the best barometer that you're going to have in terms of what that player is. With Adam, the issue is going to be durability, staying on the field and seeing what kind of year he has putting it together. By virtue of being an All-Star and a Gold Glover, he's certainly shown parts of it to us."
MacPhail spoke again to head athletic trainer Richie Bancells regarding the health of second baseman Brian Roberts. MacPhail admitted that he's beginning to worry.
"He still thinks Brian is going to be ready for Opening Day, but you have to be concerned now," MacPhail said. "To me, you get 10 days into spring training before you really start paying attention, but the clock is starting to be an issue. It's beginning to be something that's on my radar screen, even though at the present time, our athletic staff really feels like he's going to be ready by Opening Day.
"By now, we have to start thinking about, 'What if he isn't ready?'"
Maybe the Orioles go outside the organization.
"We'll see what's out there," he said. "We have weekly calls with our pro scouts and we have to let them know what's going on in our camp. We might have to shift our focus a little bit from what the initial menu was. And obviously we're going to have to start exploring more internal options as well."
The records don't count in the Grapefruit League, but MacPhail is bothered somewhat by the six-game skid.
"I don't like to lose games in spring training," he said. "More importantly than that, we have to tighten up the defense. You can't play defense like that. That probably concerns me more than the won-loss record. Poor Alberto Castillo had to get eight outs that inning. That's got to tighten up."