SARASOTA, Fla. - The threat of rain hangs in the air, along with the dark clouds that remind us of it.
Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel and Chris Tillman will throw in Group 1 today; Miguel Gonzalez, Pedro Strop and Mark Hendrickson in Group 2; Daniel McCutchen, Troy Patton and Daniel Schlereth in Group 3; Mike Belfiore, Kevin Gausman and Eduardo Rodriguez in Group 4.
Rodriguez, 19, is regarded as the third-best pitching prospect in the organization behind Dylan Bundy and Gausman. The left-hander from Venezuela went 5-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 22 starts at Single-A Delmarva last season.
Still no sign of Yamaico Navarro in camp, but the Orioles haven’t left a candle burning in the window. He’s not required to report until Friday.
Outfielder Chris Dickerson, 30, continues to work out despite battling a nasty cold.
The Orioles signed Dickerson on Jan. 29 after the New York Yankees released him 18 days earlier.
“It was just an opportunity,” he said. “There wasn’t really much more. It was just a good opportunity for me, from what I understand.”
Dickerson’s most vivid memory of playing at Camden Yards, ironically, involves being hit in the head two years ago by a Michael Gonzalez fastball. It happened in the 15th inning of a May 18 game. Gonzalez was ejected by plate umpire Dan Bellino, and Dickerson was taken to University of Maryland Hospital.
“No way, shape or form was I trying to hit Dickerson or anything like that,” Gonzalez said after the game. “In fact, I was trying to throw a fastball down and away. It got away from me and I’m sorry it hit him. I hit him and obviously I get thrown out, and I was more worried about how he was doing down there. You see a player go down like that and obviously in his head area, I really wasn’t sure that he threw me out or not. First of all, I didn’t understand why and second of all, Dickerson is down there on the ground and that’s the last thing you want to see.”
Dickerson had a big game against the Orioles last September at Yankee Stadium, hitting a home run in his first major league at-bat of 2012 and making a sensational catch to rob Adam Jones of one.
Now he’s an Oriole. Small world.
“I’ve known these guys for years,” he said. “A small cluster of guys played in the Arizona Fall League together, so I’m very familiar with these guys. I’ve known Conor (Jackson) for years. Just being around these guys and playing against them the last few years, I’ve become pretty familiar with them.”
The Orioles bring an added appeal to Dickerson because of their playoff run last year following 14 straight losing seasons.
“It’s very similar to Milwaukee a couple years ago,” he said. “It’s a team on the rise - young, great cohesiveness in the locker room. It’s an exciting team to watch.”
In case you missed it, former Orioles catcher Craig Tatum informed the Miami Marlins that he’s retiring. Tatum beat out Chad Moeller for the backup job in 2010.