It would be highly surprising if the Orioles didn’t announce manager Buck Showalter’s contract extension this week, leading up to Saturday’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Showalter keeps downplaying the importance of the extension. He almost seems embarrassed by the money he’s already made in this game.
“Honestly, the way I judge whether or not I’ve got enough money is, if I can walk into Target and buy anything I want, I’m in good shape,” Showalter said Saturday on “Wall to Wall Baseball” on MASN. “I have a contract for this year, and I’ve said it all along, there are people in our country, seriously, who have it tough, so to sit here and talk about it always drives me crazy. When players have another year or two on their contract and they want something ...
“How about these things you hear now about, ‘I’m de-committing to a school.’ How do you de-commit? I can imagine going to my dad and saying, ‘Dad, I’m de-committing.’ You gave your word. But contractually, we’ve talked. Mr. Angelos has been very forthright and upfront about what we’d like to do and those things get worked out. A handshake and a look in the eye. It doesn’t have to be on paper and stuff. I get what’s going on and I’m happy with it. I’m glad we got our coaches under contract.”
I’ve heard Showalter make the Target reference in the past, and it always cracks me up. He’s certainly not a materialistic guy.
“Getting an Icee and a popcorn and walking around, it’s special,” he said.
Target really needs to use Showalter in its next advertising campaign.
“No,” he said, “you haven’t see me in any commercials.”
I’ve seen him on “Seinfeld.”
“You were staying up too late,” he said.
Showalter once owned a boat, but he didn’t get much use out of it.
“It was a great day when I sold it,” he said. “I was in it like once or twice. Water sports? I don’t think so.”
Here are a few other topics that Showalter addressed on the show, many of them coming via tweets from viewers:
His thoughts on Chris Davis defensively at first base:
“I’ve had enough people that I really respect from the Rangers and around baseball that have seen Chris for a lot longer than I have tell me he is an outstanding first baseman and they were shocked last year when he got off to a bad start. What happens a lot of times is things snowball. Chris, he’s such a good athlete and he couldn’t believe some of the plays he wasn’t making last year. It was a shock to him and it surprised me. So we’re going to clean the slate and start over. It’s more about the mental state of mind. Physically, he’s fine. He can play first base. He’s probably got one of, if not the best arms on our club. Our MO is, if you can’t defend, you’re not going to play for us unless you carry some really big offensive numbers. That’s something we want to be known for.”
On whether he has any concerns about the right side of the infield:
“I think Chris is going to do the job at first base and we’ve got some people who are capable if he doesn’t. You’re always going to say, ‘What if?’ And I told you I have a good feeling about Brian Roberts. I know what’s going on with him physically and in his life, where he is mentally, emotionally. And we’ve got some what ifs if that doesn’t work out. We like Chris, we like Brian, we like J.J. (Hardy), we like Manny (Machado), but at some point it’s about the Orioles. If something’s not working, we’ll try to fix it. Same way with the managers and coaches. Everything’s fixable.”
On losing players in spring training to the WBC:
“It’s one of those things where we’re supposed to put together the major league team in spring training for the Baltimore Orioles, so I don’t apologize for that being my priority. And anything that takes away from that is a challenge, but I do know that people smarter than us think this is great for the game and we’ll support it.”
On the character of his players:
“This is all you need to know: Our shares in the postseason playoff pool, I think they gave out more shares than anybody, I heard, in the history of the game, which tells you something about our players and our people. When you give them to a Triple-A manager and pitching coach, that’s pretty cool. Our guys have a grip on what all it takes to get this done and who contributes.”
On having fans greet the team at Camden Yards after the Game 5 loss in the American League Division Series:
“So many things impact players. People think they don’t get it. We got off the bus coming back from New York. Everybody, trust me, was heartbroken. To get off the bus and have that many people waiting on us, it means something. It was a real quiet clubhouse. I guess it was 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. I stepped out of my office and looked around as guys were packing and doing some things, and you could tell that had an impact on them.”
On his interaction with fans:
“I’ve got to tell you, I feel a little extra pressure on a Sunday - beautiful weather, great crowd, going, ‘Gosh, I hope we play well and everybody enjoys themselves and they get a good parking place and they don’t have any problems coming in and the food’s good and we play well.’ Driving home after a game and driving down Pratt, I see all the orange shirts and I’ve got to tell you, when I first got here, it was almost like they were afraid to wear them. It makes you want to get right back to the ballpark and work on the next day.”
On what it signifies that autograph vouchers for FanFest sold out in 40 minutes:
“Well, we didn’t have to sign a bunch of free agents. I’m just kidding. Our guys are excited about it. They’re excited about that energy. To walk in and be proud about what happened ... We’re not going to just talk about it. We want to show our fans. There’s been so much talk about what somebody’s going to do or try to do. We’ll show them. We feel like it’s in a ‘to be continued’ mode. It’s like a movie that takes an intermission, I hope. It’s up to us to go down there and carry it on. And our players have a very long memory.”
On whether Michael Bourn could land in the Orioles’ laps:
“I thought about it. It’ll be in the middle of the night sometimes and I’ll get up and text Dan (Duquette), ‘What do you think about Bourn? Is that good enough for our 24th pick? How does it fit?’ It’s one thing to get somebody, but how does it fit? Who does it affect? Who does it take away from? What does it allow you to do? I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got a good feeling about Nolan Reimold, I’ve got a good feeling about Brian Roberts. I’m not going to sit around, woe is me. Nolan was getting ready to have a big year. He really was. I’ve been talking and texting with him back and forth. He’s so excited. He keeps saying, ‘Boy, people are forgetting about me and selling me short.’ He’s got a little edge on and it’s a good mentality. Manny’s got some things to prove. He doesn’t know it yet, but he hasn’t made our club yet.”
Showalter grinned. It would be a huge upset if Machado didn’t break camp with the Orioles, but hey, why tell the kid?