SARASOTA, Fla. - We have another 10 a.m. team stretch today. Same schedule as yesterday.
The temperature is falling here and the forecast still includes rain. It’s actually dipping into the 50s tonight and we’ll have a low of 40 on Sunday.
I don’t expect a pity party, considering the snow that fell in the Baltimore area Wednesday, but it’s still a shock to the system. We’re in Florida, for crying out loud.
I’d like to have the ability to measure how many miles manager Buck Showalter logs on foot each day as he moves from field to field during workouts, a fungo bat always in hand or held behind his back.
He participated in a pitchers bunt-fielding drill yesterday morning, standing in the cage to simulate a batter squaring up as an imaginary ball was thrown from the mound. Later, he stood behind the backstop during one of the bullpen sessions, paying close attention to left-handers Troy Patton and Daniel Schlereth as they threw side by side. He made a gesture with his left hand as he walked away, to no one in particular, as if motioning how the relievers were getting movement on the ball.
Showalter keeps pacing during these side sessions and avoids hanging for too long when a young pitcher is on the mound. He doesn’t want the kids, including Kevin Gausman, to press with their manager staring at them.
“I kind of purposely kept my distance from it,” he said.
Showalter did stick around to watch Mark Hendrickson, and he said later that “it’s fun” watching Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Tillman.
Showalter is cooperating with Major League Baseball as it obsesses over the World Baseball Classic - as if he has a choice - but his own obsession centers on getting the Orioles ready for the 2013 season. No mananger wants his players rushing to get game-ready in spring training and leaving camp, but it’s going to happen.
Fortunately for the Orioles, bullpen coach Bill Castro will serve as the Dominican Republic’s pitching coach, which will keep him close to reliever Pedro Strop. You can be sure that Strop will be handled with care.
“I don’t worry about Pete as much with Billy there,” Showalter said. “I don’t think you’ll see Pedro overused.”
A reporter asked Showalter whether he gives players “a look” that makes clear his preference that they remain in camp, rather than leave for the WBC. The question pertained to reliever Luis Ayala, who hadn’t decided whether to represent Mexico.
“I could stand accused, but that’s a real no-no if they (MLB) hear that that’s happening,” he replied. “We present the facts, tell them what’s important, and away they go.
“Jim Johnson and Matt (Wieters) and some of the other guys they were talking about, they were very cut and dried and adamant. It wasn’t that they weren’t patriotic. It was a great honor, but physically where they are, they didn’t think it was in their best interest from a physical standpoint.”
Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland remains an interesting story in camp as he tries to make the club and the Orioles figure out how to keep him on the roster all season, as they did with infielder Ryan Flaherty last season.
“It helps that he’s left-handed and that he’s pitched very successfully in Triple-A,” Showalter said. “Obviously, it’s the American League, the American League East. You don’t carry somebody and hide them. They’re going to pitch and they’ve got to get people out. But we think that T.J.’s got a chance to be there or we wouldn’t have drafted him and spent the money.”
Showalter will be featured on MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Now: Managers” tonight at 9 p.m. He makes the list for the first time since ranking eighth in 2011.