Pitcher Justin Duchscherer will take his physical today. I’m still trying to find out whether his school was delayed two hours.
I promised some FanFest leftovers a few days ago and got sidetracked by Duchscherer. And if I had a nickel for every time I wrote the phrase “sidetracked by Duchscherer,” I could retire today.
New bench coach Willie Randolph was asked whether he reached out to any players over the winter.
“Guys nowadays don’t call you back too often,” he said, laughing. “It’s like, wait a second. If Billy Martin had called me when I was a kid, I would have broke my neck trying to call him back, but that’s the way it is now. They prefer the text.”
Ah, kids today ...
Randolph called most of his infielders. He hadn’t spoken to Derrek Lee, “but I know Derrek pretty well,” he said.
“I know they’re ready and champing at the bit. The way this team is set up, there’s a lot of things that can go on that can really break for us, with guys having bounce back years, like Derrek, and a guy like (Mark) Reynolds, who can hit a lot of home runs and really wants to redeem himself from last year. And J.J. (Hardy), the same way. So there are a lot of pieces that can really blossom for us this year.”
“This is the time of year when everyone’s optimistic,” Randolph added. “You’re excited, you look forward to getting after it again. Now, when you look at our club, we made some nice changes, but having said that, until you get to spring training and get a real feel for the character and the attitude of your players, it’s hard to really define what you have. You know what I mean?
“I’m always very positive. I believe in my team, I believe in my guys. We’re in a tough division, obviously, so we’re not going to be acting like you don’t understand where you are, but I like the moves that we made. And, obviously, the pitching is going to take us where we need to go. But what I think about more than anything when you go into spring training is, what’s our mentality, what do we feel about each other and how we go about our business, how are we going to compete in this division? That’s what I’m excited about when we go into spring training.
“Right now, we all feel good about the moves we made, but more than anything, we have to understand that we have to get to spring training and really tighten up as a group, and then you have a better feel about where you are and how you’re going to compete in the division.”
Here’s another leftover from the Convention Center, courtesy of center fielder Adam Jones, who was asked how much better the lineup looks now compared to past seasons.
“On paper, we’re a good offense. On paper,” Jones said. “The thing is, you never know what you’re going to get. What if D. Lee has a normal year like he had in Chicago? That’s going to make everybody else go higher. But our offense starts with No. 1 (Brian Roberts). When he’s on base, he generally scores. I know he scored 100 runs a lot in his career. We’ve just got to put him on base.”
We’ve had that discussion on this blog. Roberts is arguably the most important player in the lineup. If he goes down again ... well, why even think about it?
Jones said he has spoken to Lee since the Orioles signed the first baseman as a free agent.
“He’s a quiet guy,” Jones said. “He’s going to lead by example. The ultimate professional. And he’s good. He’s going to contribute to our team. And Reynolds last year, what did he hit, .198? He’s not going to hit that. He’s going to come here and he’s going to hit. His production is great production.
“I just want to see the first game of spring when we’re playing together, how everything looks.”
Catcher Matt Wieters was asked whether he had any lingering disappointment over his 2010 season, when he failed to meet the sky-high expectations that have been attached to him since his Georgia Tech days.
“I think in the offseason you’re able to put it away,” Wieters replied. “The numbers are not what I wanted them to be last year, but at the same time, it gives you something to work toward in the offseason. It turns some sort of disappointment at the end of the year into motivation to get you going for next year.”
Wieters also was asked about the anticipated differences in spring training with manager Buck Showalter in charge.
“I think it’s going to definitely be a lot different,” he said. “I think it’s going to be more high-energy and more ‘Do it until you get it right.’ It could take 10 minutes, it could take an hour, but the key is, how you’re going to win in this league is, you’re going to have to do fundamentals right and you’re going to have to do them over and over.”
I’ll close by again sharing one of my all-time favorite baseball anecdotes, and for no particular reason except a friend reminded me of it yesterday and I still laughed like I was hearing it for the first time.
Anyway, Ramirez walked into the Indians’ clubhouse after a June 17, 1994 game and noticed everyone huddled around the televisions watching the O.J. Simpson low-speed white Bronco chase.
Ramirez, not known as a guy who kept track of current events, began the following exchange:
Ramirez: “Hey guys, what’s going on?”
Teammate: “The cops are chasing O.J.”
Ramirez: “Oh, man, what did Chad do?”
Eddie Murray: “No, he did not just say that.”
Yes, he did. Ramirez thought the police were chasing pitcher Chad Ogea.