SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter spent about 25 minutes with the media earlier today after conducting a meeting with coaches, instructors and the athletic training staff. He was in a good mood, joking with reporters and telling stories in between nuggets of information.
Here’s a sampling:
“We spent the first 45 minutes, 50 minutes of the meeting updating everybody in camp physically. Working with a whole different timeframe here with the WBC. It’s changed at least how we’re going to do it, the dynamics of spring training. The challenge is, all players have a clock, almost a biological baseball clock that’s different this year, especially with the pitchers.
“Jonesy (Adam Jones) is going to try to get completely ready here. He’s already here and he’s got to be at full-throttle shortly. Same way with Pedro (Strop) and some of the other pitchers who are going. (Luis) Ayala, who’s just coming out of it. So there are some guys who are healthy that we still wanted to talk about how we’re going to handle them.
“We talked about (Dylan) Bundy and (Kevin) Gausman’s workload this year, and everything that could possibly come up that might affect somebody’s health and their availabilty to us for the season. So far, so good. We’ve got some guys who probably won’t particate off the get-go. We’ll know a lot more after the physicals get done tomorrow morning.”
Ayala just finished pitching for Mexico in the Caribbean Series. The Orioles had to stop him from throwing this morning, preferring that he rest.
“Rick (Adair) asked Ayala, ‘Where are you going?’ He said, ‘I’m going out to throw some.’ Rick goes, ‘I don’t think you need to throw anymore.’ We’ll make some adjustments when he gets back,” Showalter said.
“We’re fortunate that Billy (Castro) is the pitching coach for the Dominican team, so we feel good about (Strop) being taken care of. And of course, Jonathan Schoop and our guys all going. There’s six of them, I believe. Well, seven counting Billy Castro. We’re going to have to replace Billy, the things he’s done down there.”
Nolan Reimold took batting practice today for the first time since his surgery. He hit against camp instructor Scott McGregor.
“We’re just going to keep an eye out for any fatigue,” Showalter said. “He’s just about all the way there. The medical thing with Richie (Bancells) today, he stood right here and gave it to us today. He’s a full-go.
“We’re going to go off of Nolan. He’s hitting today off live arms for the first time, I think as we speak. I think it’s just him and coaches. It’s a big step for him mentally more than physically. He’s not nervous, but he’s got some anxiety. He’s afraid he’s going to go out there and swing and miss about 10 times.”
Could Reimold and Nate McLouth platoon in left field?
“I’m not going to use that P-word right now,” Showalter replied. “I kind of like the edge that Nolan’s got right now. He’s seen some things we’ve done. The whatevers and what-ifs. I do have a long memory of what Nolan was getting ready to do for us last year, and how he got hurt, so he’s going to get a very patient approach. He can be a big player for us this year, something that a lot of people have forgotten about. We haven’t, but also I’m not going to be constantly telling Nolan that, because he thinks that all of us have forgotten about Nolan.
“He could be a positive kick in the pants for us if he comes back and is healthy and ready to go. This guy has got two holes in his neck. He’s had a lot of stuff going on. He got married, had a baby on the way and the next thing you know is he thinks he may never play again. I think a lot of people forget this guy got hit in the face last week of camp last year, got back into the batter’s box two days later. He’s a tough guy. A lot of people might have threw their hands up in the air and said, ‘That’s enough. It’s just not meant to be.’
“You can see that look in his eye. He’s friendly to me, but he’s got that ... Brady (Anderson) made a good point. He said, ‘I’m not sure you want to take that away from him,’ and I agree.”
Showalter knows there’s a lot of curiosity regarding how the club will handle Bundy and Gausman. Both pitchers are expected to make starts down here. Both will be available to the Orioles in September and October, though they’re likely to begin the season at Double-A Bowie.
“Some people were making light of the way we were doing Bundy (last year),” Showalter said. “We did it from the first day of spring training. He pitched on six days’ rest instead of five. He pitched two and three innings at a time instead of four, five, six or seven so that, one, we could monitor his innings. We thought it was very important for him, like we will do with Gausman, to pitch the entire year. That’s part of maturing and developing, understanding the difference between a season at some Oklahoma high school or LSU and a minor league season where you’re playing 144 games. That’s part of it. They’ve got to get used to that.
“One of the topics of the session here was ‘OK, what’s the inning count on Bundy?’ We know exactly what we’re looking at, give or take a couple innings. Same way with Gausman. We know what they did last year and we’ll do the same thing this year, where both those guys are available to us to pitch into October.”
Showalter won’t declare at this early stage of camp that Bundy and Gausman have no shot at being part of the 25-man roster on opening day.
“I hope we have that issue,” he said. “That means that he had an unbelievable spring. It also probably means somebody got hurt or traded. I think I know where we’re going here. Dylan Bundy and Gausman will be available to pitch for us in September and October. That’s how I’ll answer it. How we get there, we’ll see. I know that on the front end of it, we’re going to get ahead of it. Does that mean I’m not pulling for (Bundy) to make the club? I’m not saying it’s a long shot. We’ve got a lot of innings here for pitchers, so everybody is going to get a long look, including him.”
Showalter said everyone has reported to camp with the exception of maybe three or four players. You can add J.J. Hardy and Xavier Avery to the list I provided in my last blog entry.
Is Showalter concerned about guys being too amped up, since many of them already have been working out here since January and it’s a long spring training?
“Yeah, it’s one of the things I concern myself with, but I’d rather pull a guy back than push him forward,” Showalter said. “You don’t want to say, ‘Hey nobody come out and work out in January.’ I mean it’s not that much over the years, but I’m telling you, players are creatures of habit. And they have biological baseball clocks and when you change that it’s a challenge for every manager down here. And hey, it’s probably selfish, but we’re down here to get our clubs ready to play. Powers to be think it’s a great thing, and rightfully so, and fans seem to love it, but I’m more concerned about the Orioles.
“If we play our first game and we’re sloppy and we look bad, don’t hold me to it, but we might pick up the pace a little bit.”
Outfielder Trayvon Robinson is here, but he’s not officially part of the camp roster until the Orioles find out whether he cleared waivers.
“We asked Trayvon to kind of sit and see what happens with his claim or no claim,” Showalter said. “Think we should know that in the next couple of days.”
Tsuyoshi Wada, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, is long-tossing in camp.
“From what I’ve heard, May is about the earliest you’d see him,” Showalter said. “I like to say he’s on schedule and all along this is where we’d hope so far, but I haven’t forgotten what he could potentially bring to us. It’s pretty good. We’ve got nothing but positive reports back. The full physicals are tomorrow. He’s seen all the people. You see the look in his eye that he feels good about himself.”