SARASOTA, Fla. - Here’s a shocker: The Orioles are playing another night game on the road.
Even more startling, we’re headed back to Fort Myers to watch the Twins - twice, including Friday afternoon, if you’re keeping score at home.
The clubhouse opens to the media today at 1 p.m. The team bus leaves Sarasota at 2:15 p.m.
Left-hander Brian Matusz and relievers David Riske, Clay Rapada and Jim Johnson are scheduled to pitch. The Orioles will take another look at Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Derrek Lee will go if his left foot is OK and he can play first base. Vladimir Guerrero is definitely going. Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis and Luke Scott aren’t on the trip.
Since I’m cleaning out my notebook, I wanted to pass along a few items, beginning with my brief interview with Michael Gonzalez following yesterday’s 6-2 win over the Yankees.
Gonzalez wasn’t pleased with the results or the way he felt, though he stressed that he’s not injured. He was just sluggish after the off-day and his velocity was down.
Gonzalez allowed one run and one hit, with one walk and two strikeouts, to leave his ERA at 6.00. He’s surrendered four runs and eight hits in six innings, walking three and striking out 11.
“I can’t say I felt the best. It wasn’t the best I felt. But I grinded through, so it felt good overall,” he said.
“I wasn’t throwing 95, 96. You’re not always going to feel that good. I didn’t feel that good today. I felt a little sluggish and I tried to grind through it. Not a big deal. As long as it’s not an injury, I’m fine with it.”
Is it the dog days of spring training?
“That’s exactly what it is,” he said. “I’ve been working hard, I’ve been going at it hard, an everyday kind of thing. And then (Monday) we had a day off. When you’re used to throwing every day, it just messes you up a bit.
“I can’t say I’m happy with the outing. I obviously gave up a run, but more than that, I was able to get through it. We’re going to go through these, 10 or 15 a year, so I’m glad I got one of them out of the way.”
Like everyone else in the clubhouse, Gonzalez is ready to break camp and start the season. The novelty of spring training wore off a long time ago.
“These last 10 days will be the longest days before the opener,” he said. “I’m just going to - the word ‘grind’ is the only thing that comes in my head. I’ll have to grind through these next few days just to get going and get ready for the season.”
Another opening series at Tropicana Field will bring reminders of Gonzalez’s blown save in the first game of the 2010 season, and his adventure in closing out the third. He allowed a hit and walked two batters in the ninth, but he didn’t fall off the tightrope.
Gonzalez blew another save against Toronto in the home opener and went on the disabled list on April 14 with a shoulder injury.
How can another opening series in St. Petersburg not bring flashbacks?
“I came into Tropicana in the second half and showed them what I was about and what I could do,” Gonzalez said. “(The Orioles) knew I was hurt, they knew I wasn’t feeling well, they knew it wasn’t the same Mike Gonzalez. And people know who Mike Gonzalez is when he goes out there and gets it done, so I’m not even worried about anything like that. I just want to get the season going.”
Yes, I noticed that Gonzalez referred to himself as “Mike” instead of “Michael.”
Here are a few leftovers from Monday’s minor league game at Ed Smith Stadium:
I totally forgot about shortstop Blake Davis (sorry about that, Blake, if you happen to read this blog) until seeing him gather his equipment after the final out. He’s not on the 40-man roster and wasn’t invited to camp after hitting .246 at Triple-A Norfolk last year. I seem to recall writing about him a lot in Fort Lauderdale one spring.
Ryan Adams lined a single into right field in his first at-bat. The kid can hit. No question about it. He also struck out looking, didn’t like the call and dropped his helmet and bat at home plate before walking to second base. Not a huge sin, but it’s probably a good idea to flip them toward the dugout. You never know who might be watching.
Brandon Waring didn’t look comfortable at third base in one road exhibition game or in the minor league game. Small sampling, but I’m not sure his future is at the hot corner. The Orioles are trying to decide where he fits. He also plays first base and can shift to the outfield. He’s another guy who’s a hitter first.
I felt sorry for Rhyne Hughes. He keeps getting stuck in right field - not literally, but he played there Monday and in previous minor league games. Seems like years ago that he made his major league debut at first base, but it was April 24.
I got my first up-close look at reliever Jose Diaz, who’s listed at 6-foot-4, 329 pounds. I thought it was Warren Sapp. He jogged through the stands during the game and the Orioles lost $1.7 million of their renovations.