First day in St. Pete

It would make more sense if I drove to Tampa for a game against...wait for it...the Tampa Bay Rays, but I’d have a devil of a time finding The Trop.

The Orioles will conduct a two-hour workout beginning at 3 p.m. in preparation for tomorrow night’s opener. Media access is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

I’m switching hotels after a terrific stay at Homewood Suites Sarasota, a Hilton property that took very good care of me for almost seven weeks.

I’ll apologize in advance for the mess I’m leaving behind.

I tried to consume the last of the food that I purchased, but I’m not likely to devour two bags of frozen vegetables and a half-loaf of seven-grain bread for breakfast. I’m just not feeling it.

And for the record, I’ve become quite fond of Sarasota. I have enough room in my heart for multiple loves.

Sifting through my notebook, I noticed a few comments from reliever Jim Johnson that hadn’t been posted. We talked about his spring and whether he’s pitching up to his standards.

Johnson allowed seven runs and 15 hits in nine innings, so I’m going with “no.”.

Johnson didn’t surrender a run in five of his last six outings, but the Red Sox scored four times in one inning in his next-to-last appearance.

“I was actually feeling good, but nothing really seemed to work out at all,” Johnson said, referring back to that game. “I can’t really go by that. It seemed like I was starting to get into a pretty good groove. My curveball was starting to get back a little bit to where I want it. I just need to focus on getting it down. It’s got too much side-to-side movement, but it’s coming. There’s spring training speed and there’s game speed. I think when that happens, it’s going to be even better.

“I’m happy where I’m at. I feel good. My arm feels good. I’m pretty happy with the way things are going. Some of my numbers aren’t really that good, but I think it’s not a numbers thing for me this spring.”

When Johnson gets hit hard, the assumption is his ball isn’t sinking enough, but he talked about having poor direction on his pitches while struggling against the Red Sox.

“It’s like driving without a steering wheel,” he said. “If I tried to throw something to the outside part of the plate, it was pulled. I tried to go in and it would be either pulled or left behind. It was just in between with everything. I couldn’t find that direction.”

Speaking of directions, I need to find my next hotel. I’ll provide updates on today’s workout and quotes from manager Dave Trembley. I’ll also check out yet another Orioles-related blog that’s been unveiled today on The Sun’s Web site, since you never can have too many.

Imagine if this team actually started to win.

Also, please be sure to read Steve Melewski’s latest blog entry on It provides some much-needed perspective on life. And we can all be thankful that he’s feeling better after receiving a real scare over the weekend.

I knew the stress of working with me would get to him. He just took longer than most.

Here’s to a speedy recovery, my friend.

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