It’s taking every ounce of discipline for me to avoid starting each blog entry with a Florida dateline.
I’m back in Baltimore, right?
Here are some comments from manager Buck Showalter:
On how much he’s thought about this day:
“Certainly you give it some thought. We were so busy on the plane preparing for Detroit. I think this time of year it’s such a whirlwind, it’s tough to slow down a little bit and take in a moment. But I’m pretty good at that, so I will. The rest of them are just trying to get through the competitive part of it and stay focused on that. It’ll be a good little vision for our players about the passion that so many people have grown up with the Orioles and opening day and what it means for everybody. The tough part is the Tigers have been through it, and usually the visiting teams have a little advantage. They get in here at a good hour and they’ve already gone through opening day and they’ve already got three games under their belt. And they’re coming off really good games, so it’ll be a challenge for us today.”
On whether expectations from a 3-0 start are good or bad thing:
“I think it’s a thing for us - good thing, bad thing. It is what it is. There are just too many games. That’s what I keep challenging the players with about staying together because they’re really the only ones, and that staff, that understand the reality of what we’re trying to do here, and the day-to-day grind it is. And you’ve got to stay focused on what reality is, instead of the ebb and flow of emotions that surround a team that’s doing something that’s very important to its fans. You’ve got to stay focused on the in-game. Good thing, bad thing. It’s certainly not a bad thing. I don’t think anybody will have higher expectations than hopefully our players have of themselves and of them as a group.”
On whether 3-0 start is more important to a young team:
“It is on the surface. It certainly looks that way that you’d like to have young players get a return for all the work they’ve put in this spring, but there are 29 other clubs putting in that same work and grinding it out with good baseball players and good baseball people. It can’t hurt. I think a lot people lose sight of (Mark) Reynolds at 27 at third, and J.J. (Hardy) is 28 and Jonesy (Adam Jones) is 24 or 25, and (Matt) Wieters is 24 and Nicky (Markakis) is 27, I believe. And the pitching staff. And (Felix) Pie’s only 26. That’s good when you’ve got that number of players who don’t have a deep track record.”
On the importance of Wieters to the starting staff:
“One of the things that really caught my eye was how mature Matt was about the importance of catching. I see him in here at 1 or 2 o’clock going over hitters and asking for every little tidbit, and it creates such a confidence in our pitchers. You see the tempo in the game when they’re on the same page, and they just have so much confidence. You know how sharp Jeremy (Guthrie) is when you see he and Matt be so together. We had a situation yesterday where (Jason) Berken came in and his first seven warmup pitches were all well above the belt. Mark (Connor) said to me, ‘If the catcher’s really thinking here, he’ll start him off with a breaking ball because the guy’s going to be first-pitch jumping the fastball,” just to get Berken’s sites back down and make him throw a breaking ball because you’ve got to finish it down. And sure enough, the first pitch Berken threw in the 2011 season was a slider. He kind of looked at me and said, ‘Wow.’ Mark’s got as good a dossier on hitters. He’s very guarded with it. Rick (Adair) is, too. To be on the same page with a 24-year-old catcher bodes well.”