SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are preparing for their first full-squad workout today, which means players won't take the field until noon. Which means the clubhouse won't open to the media until 11 a.m. - 2 1/2 hours later than usual. Which means I could have slept longer.
Manager Buck Showalter arranged another trip to the local movie theatre here on Main St., just as he did last year. Players were treated to another inspirational video, this one including Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis (Hardly breaking news, but worth a mention this morning.) And they'll do the same thing next spring if Showalter remains in charge.
I know what you're wondering: Will the video be made available to the public? It was an in-house project last spring and it'll probably remain that way this spring. But the club most likely will play excerpts from it during games at Camden Yards.
I'll check on Jason Berken's hamstring today. And I'll keep an eye on Brian Roberts as he takes the field with his teammates for the workout. I'll also get my first look at outfielder Endy Chavez, the last position player to report to camp.
Let the bonding process begin.
Troy Patton threw a side session yesterday as he prepares for a relief role. He's not sure exactly how the Orioles will use him if he makes the club, but he knows he'll work out of the bullpen. His starting days apparently are over.
Patton is out of options, so the Orioles will have to pass him through waivers if they want to send him down. He earned Showalter's trust last season and went 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 20 appearances. He posted a 2.39 ERA in his last 18 games.
Patton was 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA in 15 appearances against the American League East that covered 25 innings. He walked five and struck out 22 in 30 innings last season. His ERA was 0.77 in eight September outings. Right-handers batted .186 against him in 2011. He didn't allow an extra-base hit to a left-handed batter in 56 plate appearances.
This guy has to earn a job this spring?
The Orioles brought in a truckload of left-handers this winter, including Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada and Dana Eveland - all candidates for the rotation - but they also removed lefty specialist Clay Rapada. Patton isn't quite sure who he's competing against, though Zach Phillips is a logical guess. Unless, of course, Showalter finds room for both of them.
"It's realistic to think about the bullpen," Patton said, "but as far as my capacity in the bullpen, it could be any number of things. I don't know what they expect from me. It's kind of the same thing as last year. If you're in the bullpen, you're in the bullpen. You pitch when you're called. It's kind of easy. I don't really have to think about it, and I don't think they really want me thinking about it, honestly."
Patton can work in long relief, be a one-inning guy or be one-batter guy.
"It's just getting loose," he said. "I'm used to it, I'm accustomed to it. I think I'm ready to fill any spot that they need me to. I can be a short guy and I can be a long guy if that's better. Whatever ends up working out between where players fall and whatever happens with the starting rotation, because that's obviously going to be a real surprise, whatever happens, because we've got nine guys competing. So, I'll wait until those chips fall where they may and see where I end up."
Left-handed hitters were 2-for-20 against Phillips last season, but Showalter probably isn't looking for a specialist. Otherwise, the Orioles would have kept Rapada. He needs relievers who can retire left-handers and right-handers, and he's got enough one-inning types.
Wada or Eveland could be moved to the bullpen if they don't make the rotation - Eveland is out of options - which could leave Patton going head-to-head with Phillips for one spot.
"Phillips is the only guy that I would compare myself to in the bullpen, really, because me and him pretty much did the same thing last year," Patton said. "Whenever he wasn't fresh, I pitched, and whenever I wasn't fresh, he pitched. We were kind of going back and forth and doing the same thing."
As for how the additions of Chen, Wada and Eveland could impact him, Patton said, "I can't assume that all three of the acquisitions are going to make the rotation, so some of them might end up being in the bullpen. That doesn't mean we can't have two lefties in the bullpen. It doesn't rule me out. And I don't blame them for going out and getting left-handed pitching after how many teams we play with lefties in the lineup. It makes sense to get guys who can switch them around and make them uncomfortable. I understand. I'll just try to make the team my way, whatever gets me there."