Off to Sarasota

Did I actually make it out of Maryland this winter without shoveling snow?

Will I actually go another year without missing my flight?

I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training Saturday, which means I need to be in Sarasota today. Players start to trickle in early, and I always love playing “Who’s that guy?” There’s no way I’d arrive late and miss out on all the fun.

A new player walks into the clubhouse carrying his equipment bag. Reporters give him the ol’ head nod as he passes. Then we turn around, check which locker he approaches and quickly look at the name plate above it.

The trick is to not burn out early from all the excitement.

The game will have to be interrupted so we can rush outside and watch Zach Britton play catch. It’s sort of a big deal following yesterday’s long-toss session. We’ll ask how his shoulder feels. Then we’ll ask pitching coach Rick Adair how Britton looked. We’ll hope for more than a head nod.

I’ll try to talk Brian Matusz into arm wrestling me, just to get an idea of how much stronger he’s become over the winter. I’ll try to talk Tommy Hunter into giving me a hug, just to get an idea of how much slimmer he’s become over the winter.

Jim Johnson will be asked whether he prefers to start. He does. He’ll be asked whether he expects to close. He doesn’t know.

Manager Buck Showalter will be asked about his opening day starter. He may or may not find it amusing.

The word “competition” will be written or uttered approximately 500 times, and I’m only referring to Saturday.

We’ll also count the translators, but only if there’s enough time.

Brad Bergesen will insist again that he isn’t bitter or distracted over losing his arbitration hearing.

Alfredo Simon will be asked about missing spring training last year. Alan Mills will be asked about not missing Darryl Strawberry with a right cross.

I’m flying into Tampa and making the hour-long drive to Sarasota - don’t ask - so I’ll check the blog once I settle into my hotel.

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