SARASOTA, Fla. - I woke up to a bunch of spam comments on the blog, most of them from senders claiming to have squirrels in their pants.
Is that really how my day is starting?
Anyway, pitchers and catchers are taking their physicals this morning and the clubhouse is closed to the media. They’ll immediately head to the back fields for workouts, so access will be delayed. I won’t be arriving at Ed Smith Stadium before 11 a.m., unless I want to sit in a room and stare at the walls.
A team spokesman says fans are invited to watch the workout between noon and 3 p.m. The stadium parking lot won’t open any earlier.
My mind was racing.
It was quite the riddle, and one that stumped my former Sun colleagues later that night at dinner. I finally had to ask another guy sitting at the front desk, who solved it for me.
It was pitcher Chris Jakubauskas, signed to a minor league deal in late January. He’s the former Pirates right-hander who was hit in the head by a Lance Berkman line drive on April 24, 2010, in the first inning of his debut with the team.
Jakubauskas won his first major league game with the Mariners on April 10, 2009. He must feel an attachment to them, since they rescued him from the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.
He’s lucky that he remembers anything from last season. It was a scary moment - and not because he was in Pittsburgh.
Jakubauskas went 6-7 with a 5.32 ERA in 35 games, including eight starts, with the Mariners in 2009. He isn’t listed among the Orioles’ spring invitees, so he might have just showed up early for minor league camp.
I didn’t see Justin Duchscherer yesterday, so I’ll have a chance to introduce myself to him this afternoon.
Let the rotation competition begin.
Catcher Caleb Joseph is entering his second spring training with the Orioles, and he’s trying not to be as wide-eyed this time. He’s also trying to put last season behind him, when he batted .235 with 11 homers, 51 RBIs and a .669 OPS at Double-A Bowie. He hit .284 with 12 homers, 60 RBIs and a .787 OPS the previous summer at Single-A Frederick.
Joseph’s spirits were lifted in the Arizona Fall League. He hit .421 with one homer, six RBIs and a 1.030 OPS in 11 games with Scottsdale.
“I’m just trying to come in and make somewhat of an impression,” he said. “I had a good fall league. I learned a lot in the fall league and I was on a great team, and I’m just trying to continue what I did. If I continue that, things will fall into place.
“I’m not worried about where I’m going or what I’m trying to get. I just want to continue what I did in the fall league. That’s the biggest thing for me right now. Trying to have fun, enjoy it and not looking beyond the spring. I did that too much last year and it got me in trouble. I’m just going to play every day without looking too much beyond it.”
Though his stay in camp was somewhat brief last spring, Joseph made a favorable impression on former manager Dave Trembley, who loved the catcher’s attitude. Joseph will have to start over with a new manager and coaching staff.
Joseph eventually will be sent over to the minor league side, which only requires a few steps to a door that leads to another set of lockers. The Orioles must decide whether to assign him to Bowie or Triple-A Norfolk.
“Either way, it’s a quick phone call away,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. I’m just happy to be here.”
Here’s WBAL’s schedule of exhibition games:
Feb. 28: at Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m. (Pirates split squad)
March 1: vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 1:05 p.m.
March 5: vs. Boston Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
March 6: at Minnesota Twins, 1:05 p.m.
March 7: vs. New York Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (O’s split squad)
March 10: at Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 p.m.
March 12: at Houston Astros, 1:05 p.m.
March 13: vs. Detroit Tigers, 1:05 p.m. (Tigers split squad)
March 16 : at New York Yankees, 7:05 p.m.
March 18 : vs. Minnesota Twins, 7:05 p.m.
March 19: vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
March 20: at Tampa Bay Rays, 1:05 p.m.
March 24: vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 p.m.
March 26: at Tampa Bay Rays, 1:05 p.m.
March 27: vs. Boston Red Sox, 1:05 p.m. (O’s split squad)
March 29: vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.