SARASOTA, Fla. - Clubhouse manager Fred Tyler spent part of his morning sorting through batting helmets, trying to find one that fit Vladimir Guerrero’s head.
Cesar Izturis, Felix Pie, Nick Green and Randy Winn reported to camp this morning, and Nick Markakis is expected to arrive later today. They’ll also need helmets, but it won’t be as interesting to watch.
Everything that Guerrero does draws the attention of teammates and reporters. Imagine what will happen once he picks up a bat and steps into the cage.
Izturis has showed up the last two springs knowing that he’d be the starting shortstop, but that’s no longer the case. He’ll back up at the middle infield positions after signing a one-year deal for $1.5 million.
Izturis said that lots of teams were interested in him, “but not to play every day.”
“Why go someplace else?” he said.
“The organization has been great to me the two years that I’ve played here,” he said. “Andy (MacPhail) and (Buck) Showalter talked to me the whole time and said they needed me here. I like the club, I like the people. My family, they are happy in Baltimore. You have to consider that with them, too. They were excited. My family and me decided to come back. My teammates are great. We’re going in the right direction.”
Izturis is viewed primarily as a backup middle infielder, but he’ll also get some work at third.
“I think it’s going to be different, but I’ll make an adjustment,” he said. “I’ve been taking ground balls (at second) and working out, even at third. Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do it.”
J.J. Hardy unseated Izturis as the starting shortstop once the Orioles traded for him at the Winter Meetings.
“I’ve played against him,” Izturis said. “I think he’s a great guy, a quiet guy. It’s going to be good for the team playing with him and him being around. It’s going to be fun.”
Izturis is one of the more popular players in the clubhouse, which he discovered after re-signing with the Orioles.
“It means a lot, especially when you have a lot of years in the big leagues,” he said. “It makes me feel great. When I signed, I got like 25 calls from the players. I told my wife, ‘Look at my phone.’ It was exciting. It really felt good.
“I’m here and I’m happy. It’s going to be great.”