Mark Connor has spent his winter getting acclimated to his new pitching staff. He's been watching videos that the Orioles supplied for him.
No sense waiting until spring training.
"I had the video coordinator (Michael Silverman) make up some DVDs of all these guys, as much as you can get - good outings, bad outings - just to kind of wrap my arms around these guys and see what they're all about from a physical standpoint," said Connor, who replaces Rick Kranitz as pitching coach. "You can't really tell a whole lot about them mentally or emotionally or anything else. Emotion a little bit, just by watching their mound presence and the way they go about things on the mound."
Connor has called each pitcher over the winter and met with a bunch of them at last night's function. They talked about everything, including their excitement over the upcoming season.
"It was just a good situation," he said.
Told that the Orioles' ERA was 5.18 under the first two managers and 3.54 after Buck Showalter was hired, Connor replied, "I didn't realize Bucky was that good of a pitching coach. He must be. I might just let him stay after it until they fail a little bit.
"I see how it works both ways when there's a managerial change. I've been around that sometimes in my career. These kids reacted. They took it upon themselves to kick themselves a little bit. And knowing how Buck operates, he doesn't put up with a whole lot of shenanigans. You play the game right or you're not going to play here. The guys like it here and they wanted to stay here and they've got it going."
"In fairness to the people who were here before, they got healthy. They got some pieces back that weren't here at the beginning of the season, and that helps. If you don't have quality major league depth, which a lot of teams don't, to go get when guys get hurt, you're going to struggle.
"I like our pitching staff. It's what's going to happen if guys go down. Where are you going to get these guys? Where are you going to replace them from? It's most likely going to be a young player from your farm system.
"Young players are exciting. I love working with young players. I've had staffs where I've had either five guys who were older than me or five guys who were 20. And it's two different dynamics. It's fun to watch the kids grow, it's fun to be around kids that want to learn and don't think they know it all, because none of us do. The key is going to be keeping these guys healthy."
On another note, today's FanFest has attracted more than 10,000 fans.