Homeward bound

TAMPA, Fla. - I made it to my Airtran gate at the Tampa airport after having my hands “tested” by security because my photo ID was in my back pocket.

I’ve had them slapped before, but never tested.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that my hands passed the test and I’m allowed to fly home, where the forecast apparently calls for temperatures in the 70s (good news) and rain (bad news.)

I’m up to exactly 6,600 Twitter followers (@MASNroch) after arriving at spring training below 6,000, so thanks for the support. And I’m grateful that the readers of this blog stuck with me through the seven weeks that I was down here.

Now the real work begins.

Don’t forget that MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski will cover today’s game at Triple-A Norfolk as part of his four-cities-in-four-days tour. We’re having concert T-shirts printed.

The 25-man roster must be set by 5 p.m. today. The expectation among reporters covering the team is that the Orioles will keep left-handers Troy Patton and Zach Phillips, and option Darren O’Day to Norfolk, but that’s mostly an educated guess mixed in with a strong hunch.

Manager Buck Showalter might actually lay out the entire rotation beyond opening day starter Jake Arrieta and No. 3 starter Jason Hammel. Brian Matusz is expected to be No. 5, which leaves Wei-Yin Chen and Tommy Hunter vying for 2 and 4.

Does Showalter break up the lefties or allow Chen to make his debut against the Yankees?

Also, Nick Johnson and Ronny Paulino need to officially be added to the 40-man roster. Johnson made it through camp in one piece. Paulino finally made it to camp.

Paulino might be the biggest surprise of the spring. Taylor Teagarden was supposed to be the backup catcher on opening day, while Paulino handled the young pitchers in Norfolk. Once Paulino was delayed by visa issues, I wondered if we’d ever seen him. Out of sight, out of the team’s plans.

Well, look who’s backing up Matt Wieters.

I’ll check the blog after retrieving my car and driving home. I’ll report tomorrow from the team’s workout at Camden Yards. Then it’s opening day and the 162-game grind.

Seems like only yesterday that I was checking into my hotel in Sarasota and watching pitchers fielding practice on the back fields.

Did I really stalk executive vice president Dan Duquette one day while trying to confirm whether the Orioles signed Josh Banks?

Banks has been released.

I’m being set free from Florida.

See you back home.

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