Using all the restraint I could muster, I waited until the end of my chat with minor league infielder Mike Flacco to bring up his more famous brother.
"Have you talked to Joe much lately?"
I'm sure that never gets old for him.
Mike Flacco was kept at extended spring training while recovering from a fracture in his lower back. He was hoping to be assigned to one of the full-season affiliates after batting .272 with 14 doubles, five triples, three homers and 34 RBIs in 60 games at rookie-level Bluefield last year, but he wasn't ready physically and needed additional time to prepare.
"I have no idea where I'll play," he said. "I'm figuring maybe Aberdeen but I don't have any clue. I'm just trying to get myself the best I can be, so when they do send me somewhere I'll do good."
Flacco, who appeared in five games at low Single-A Delmarva last season after moving up from Bluefield, couldn't do much of anything until spring training started. The back wouldn't allow it.
"That's really when I started doing baseball stuff again," he said. "I was hoping to make one of the full-season teams. I don't think anyone comes down here thinking, 'Let's get stuck in extended,' but it's actually been a real good thing for me. I still feel like I can get a little bit better before I get going. I don't feel like I'm quite ready, but I'm getting there. I'm starting to feel good."
Flacco said the fracture was "just a buildup over the summer from playing." There wasn't one particular incident that led to the injury.
"I guess I had something that was going on that was causing it to put a little extra stress on my back," he said. "I had to take care of some of that with core strengthening in the offseason."
Flacco dresses in the same clubhouse as shortstop Mychal Givens, the Orioles' second-round pick in the 2009 draft. Flacco was chosen 29 rounds later.
Givens signed late and didn't play last year. Now the competition comes in extended spring training games.
"It's been a very good experience," he said. "I wasn't able to play last year, but now I'm getting used to the pro life. It's a good experience right now. I'm glad I made this decision to play for the Baltimore Orioles."
Givens conceded that extended spring training can be "a grind" because of the early reporting time and succession of day games.
"I'm ready to start playing under the lights and in real minor league games," he said.
Givens said he swung the bat exceptionally well early, began to slump and then got back in a groove.
"Like I learned from some other players, you've got your ups and downs," he said. "After I found out what I needed to do, my approach and everything has been great right now. I'm doing very well getting on base and doing whatever they ask me to do."
News from Frederick: Second baseman L.J. Hoes (strep throat) and shortstop Greg Miclat (foot) were placed on the disabled list today.
Frederick lost to Potomac today, 7-5, despite first baseman Joe Mahoney's second straight three-RBI game. Shortstop Bobby Stevens had a solo home run and RBI single.
Oliver Drake, making his first start since April 13, allowed five runs (four earned) and six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out three.