SARASOTA, Fla. - You probably figured out a long time ago that manager Buck Showalter is on top of everything. Nothing gets past him, including the little things that mean more in the big picture.
A few days ago, Showalter noticed how the first row of seats for a team meeting was occupied by guys like Matt Wieters, Jason Hammel, Darren O’Day, Jim Johnson and Pedro Strop. That’s leadership.
Here’s another example:
Kevin Gausman, taking part in his first major league camp after being the fourth-overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, stepped off the mound during a drill last week on one of the back fields at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. Apparently, that’s the way Gausman did it at LSU. Apparently, that’s not how the Orioles do it, and Johnson immediately pointed out the mistake to him.
“J.J. said, ‘No, get back up there. We don’t do that. You’ve got to do it this way.’ Matter of factly, nothing mean,” Showalter recalled.
“Believe me, Gausman doesn’t need much adjustment. But it’s good-natured. It’s not hazing. It’s ‘Hey, you’re wearing our uniform. Let’s go.’
“This isn’t the kind of team that sits in the back row much. When you say, ‘Does anybody have any ideas or any questions,’ they’re going to put a hand up, and I appreciate that environment, that they feel comfortable talking. I invite ‘Why?’
“I’d like to have a good reason why I do things a certain way, and if you’ve got a better way, we tweak it. Most of it comes from players’ suggestions, because they’re the ones who have to play the game.”
Adam Jones has emerged as the most vocal leader in the clubhouse, and if you read his tweets, you pretty much find daily examples. But there are quite a few guys who are taking on that responsibility, much to the delight of their skipper.
Asked whether there’s a different vibe in camp this spring, Showalter replied, “It would be easy to say, ‘Yeah,’ but I told some of our people before that I had a good feeling with our guys last year at this time. I don’t see anything to make me feel any different.
“I don’t think anybody is that good to sit here in February to say this is happening, so that’s going to happen for seven months. They’re human beings, it’s human nature. You just assume the position, see where it takes you.
“I trust them. It’s a group that’s very easy to trust.”
That’s becoming more evident each day of camp.
As for today’s workout, players take the field to stretch at 10 a.m. Reporters and fans will have to bundle up. It’s cold here, especially by Florida standards.
Note: Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Todd Redmond, Dylan Bundy, Zach Clark, Mike Wright, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Jair Jurrjens, Adam Russell, Steve Johnson and T.J. McFarland will throw today. Hitters will “track” their pitches. In other words, the bat is supposed to stay on the shoulder.