New bench coach Willie Randolph knows winning. It’s on his resume. So how can a team like the Orioles change a losing culture?
Let’s ask him.
“It takes individuals, it takes guys who are willing to commit to changing that as a group, as a team,” Randolph said during a break at FanFest. “Changing a culture is not all that tough if you want to get on board and get back to where you were as an organization and as a team. So it’s really not that difficult, but that’s why it’s so important when you bring in talent to bring in character guys, guys who understand what it takes to be part of a resurrection and really believe it. That’s not difficult.
“When you put together a team, you want guys who are ready to buy into that, ready to take that next step. Sacrifice, just be unselfish, and hope your teammates understand we’re in this thing together. And if we’re going to be the team we expect to be, everybody’s got to be on board.”
Not much gets past manager Buck Showalter, so he’s likely to notice if anyone isn’t on board. Remember how he’d scan the dugout during games last season to see which players were paying attention, which ones had their eyes fixed on the field?
“That’s why spring training is good,” Randolph said. “You get a good feel for what you have, and it also helps to change that mentality, too, by talking to your players. A guy who maybe has been down a few years because he hasn’t won might come to spring training and say, ‘Wow, we made some nice moves here, we got some guys to help us all out here.’ And hopefully the coaching staff can lend some of that, too.
“That’s why it’s so exciting to get to spring training and see what you’ve got. And once you get into it and see the work ethic, see how guys get after it, see the communication, you can say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a chance here.’ “
So what can we expect from Showalter’s first spring training?
“A tough, hard spring with a lot of fundamentals,” Randolph said. “Buck’s a detail guy. He knows what he wants and I think the players are going to have to really understand that we’re going to be here to work and get ourselves in the best shape we can be mentally and physically to play a long, hard season in one of the toughest divisions in baseball.”