SARASOTA, Fla. - I can’t close out the day without letting manager Buck Showalter say a few words.
Showalter noted that second baseman Brian Roberts’ neck showed some improvement again today.
“Better than yesterday, and the other day was better than that,” Showalter said. “We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Showalter confirmed that no further tests are scheduled for Roberts. X-rays came back negative. He’s apparently been bothered by spasms.
“They pretty much feel like they’ve got their arms around what he’s been dealing with,” Showalter said.
Showalter watched first baseman Derrek Lee take batting practice for the first time today.
“Good start,” he said. “It’s just a matter of strengthening. He gets a little echo in there, so to speak, on the ball, like most guys do. He was pretty upbeat. We’re making sure the strength factor is there. That will come with time, but it was good to get that behind us. He definitely feels better than he did last year.”
Lee and Brandon Snyder took turns in the cage and had to contend with gusting winds.
“I was telling (Lee), ‘You know there’s a hurricane blowing in here today,’” Showalter said. “He said, ‘Oh, I don’t care where the ball goes.’ “
Lee wants to get plenty of at-bats here, and Showalter will find ways to do it. He might send Lee over to the minor league complex to take some extra swings against live pitching.
I couldn’t help but wonder if I was watching the starting infield on opening day, but it’s much too soon for such thoughts. Roberts said he could have played today in a regular-season game.
Lee and Snyder went through an interesting fielding drill after they were done hitting. They knelt down and took turns snatching sharp grounders from Willie Randolph. Lee wisely kept his right hand behind his back to protect his thumb.
Izturis looks so smooth at second base, though he told me that he’s still not comfortable. Hardy bounced a throw behind him, but Izturis reached back, fielded the ball cleanly and fired to first to complete the “double play.” It was seamless. I can’t imagine many other second basemen making that play.
Robert Andino moved over from shortstop to second base today without being instructed to do so, which seemed to impress Showalter.
Vladimir Guerrero took part in a bunting drill. He’s willing to do anything. No special treatment for the future Hall of Famer.
He’s actually been pretty good chasing fly balls, too. He’s more mobile than I anticipated, though he’s still not getting the green light to steal bases.
The Orioles had a few extra hitting stations. Jim Presley stood in one of the cages and offered instruction on situational hitting. Once his lecture was done, Showalter walked over and asked if he could interject.
Showalter is very hands-on here. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Showalter talked again about the importance of having some former Orioles in camp and reaching back to the franchise’s glorious past.
“Believe me, I sat there and was a big fan of the way they played the game,” he said. “I told you the first half-field I ever saw was with Earl (Weaver) and I love the things they held as being important to win. They were consistent with it.
“Frank (Robinson), you can see the pride he has in the Orioles. He could have gone to a lot of camps and done that. I was talking to him about that. Why here? He goes, ‘I worn a lot of uniforms, but I was an Oriole.’ He’s just got a presence about him. And the more he’s around, the more you realize things don’t happen by accident. They happen for a reason, and he’s one of the reasons a lot of that was established.
“It was fun talking to him about Memorial Stadium. Plus, you can tell he’s been in front of players before. He’s not uncomfortable. You can tell when he raises his voice a little bit, he’s pretty sure about a point he’s making.”
Showalter’s roll call also included Brady Anderson, B.J. Surhoff, Mike Bordick and Terry Crowley.
“All of those guys, this is their home and they’ve got a lot to bring,” he said. “Part of having them here, too, is understanding how everything goes on and making sure you understand the framework of how it’s got to be delivered to the players so we’re not confusing them. And that, as much as anything, was the Oriole Way. It was a generation-to-generation thing. Talking to different guys, it was the sharing of information with each other all the way through the system. It was like an inheritance that you passed down.”
Word out of Red Sox camp is former Orioles left-hander Rich Hill could make the club as a specialist. He’s developed a sidearm delivery that has increased his effectiveness. Meanwhile, Matt Albers is a long shot to make the team.