This and that (and more)

In case you don't recognize it, the Orioles are experiencing what is commonly known as an "off-day."

No reason to report to the ballpark. No workout, no game, no interviews.

The rainout that proceeded the doubleheader against the Rangers doesn't count in manager Buck Showalter's book. Players still had to show up at Camden Yards. They hit in the indoor cage and watched video and dressed in front of each other. That's not an "off-day."

I'm going to have one of those, too, but not before filing a morning blog entry, checking the comments, getting in a few sets of tennis - weather permitting - and wondering what possessed me to watch "St. Elmo's Fire" last night. The batteries in the remote must have been dead.

The Orioles have played 20 straight games without truly being off, the maximum allowed before the players association starts making a terrible fuss.

"You've got to do it," Nick Johnson said. "That's part of the schedule. I'm sure the guys that are going out there every day are tired, but we'll have a good day off, rest up and go get them."

Asked to describe the team's character, Johnson replied, "Good. Never give up. Play to the last out. Always in the game. Our pitching has been great."

Wieters Gold Glove tall.jpgCatcher Matt Wieters added, "It's nice get a day off more than anything just to get the body rested. Whatever we've done before is fine, but (today) we'll step away from baseball and get ready to get back at it on Friday."

The Orioles' lead in the American League East is down to one game after Tampa Bay's victory yesterday, which immediately brings two thoughts to mind:

1. I actually typed, "The Orioles' lead in the American League East," which still feels strange.
2. I'm checking the scoreboard and the standings.

There hasn't been much of a reason around here.

I recently asked Showalter whether he peeks at the scoreboard and standings, or whether it's too early in the season. At the time, I mentioned how the Orioles held a two-game lead on the Rays after both teams lost the previous night.

"Lets put it this way, you just told me that and now I know," he said.

"I don't look at them. I'll glance at them sometimes just to see how some other teams are doing, usually in another division or somewhere else for somebody I might have some ties with.

"It's way too early for that. But when I'm looking at the scoreboard, I certainly see scores and go, that's good for us, teams in our division not winning. But I'm not pulling for anybody's ill fortunes. I'm more concerned about what we're doing."

Fair enough. I'll still take a look.

I try to avoid obsessing over the backup catcher unless it's spring training and there's a roster spot to be won, but I must point out that Luis Exposito is 1-for-17 with three walks and five strikeouts.

The Orioles preferred his defense over Ronny Paulino's, but I wonder if there's a backup catcher on the planet who can field his position, call a good game and also pose a threat at the plate.

They seem to elude this club.

I'm sure you've heard by now that Brian Roberts walked twice, scored a run, turned a double play and fielded a routine ground ball cleanly in his three innings last night at Double-A Bowie. He didn't swing the bat, but he'll get another chance tonight while again starting at second base. Designated hitter duties arrive Friday.

Down on the farm, pitcher Brandon Erbe become Single-A Frederick's all-time strikeout leader when he notched No. 264 in a relief appearance for the Keys.

Erbe's 17th win placed him third all-time on the franchise list

Erbe last pitched for Frederick in 2008 and originally made his debut as a 19-year-old in 2007. He's back with the Keys at 24 after undergoing elbow surgery in the fall of 2010.

Yes, it's a dubious achievement, like Billy Rowell being Frederick's all-time leader in games played. You don't want to wear a Carolina League uniform for that long. But hey, it's still an achievement.

Note: Single-A Delmarva is auctioning off an autographed Dylan Bundy game-used glove, with the proceeds benefitting Mountaire Thanksgiving for Thousands.

Bundy used the black Mizuno glove while tossing a scoreless inning against the Red Sox in spring training.

Money donated to the Mountaire Thanksgiving for Thousands Fund at the Delaware Community Foundation will be used to purchase staple food items to go in the thousands of Thanksgiving for Thousands meal boxes produced through the program each year. In 2011, over 7,000 boxes were prepared and distributed to churches, shelters and food pantries across the Delmarva Peninsula, which helped provide a nutritious Thanksgiving meal for more than 50,000 area residents in need.

"Beyond the gaudy numbers, Dylan has been very willing to be a part of the Shorebirds community efforts over the first two months of the season," said Shorebirds general manager Chris Bitters. "We applaud him for being so generous with his time and eager to help whenever asked."

The auction will begin on Friday, May 25 and run through Monday, June 25 at 12:00pm. The autographed glove will go to the highest bidder. The Shorebirds have set an opening bid of $500.

The auction will take place on the Shorebirds official website, www.theshorebirds.com.

For more information on Mountaire's Thanksgiving for Thousands or the Waging War on Hunger initiative, visit www.mountaire.com/wagewaronhunger/ or contact Roger Marino, Corporate Community Relations Director, Mountaire Farms, rmarino@mountaire.com, 302.934.3123.

For more information about the auction, contact the Shorebirds at 410-219-3112.

Also, there will be a Jake Arrieta bobblehead giveaway for the first 250 fans ages 13 and older at tonight's Bowie Baysox game. Gates open at 6 p.m.

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