SARASOTA, Fla. - Jason Hammel didn’t complete the third inning today, leaving after 2 1/3 with the score tied 1-1. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out four.
Mark Hendrickson replaced Hammel with two runners on base, issued a two-out walk and escaped the jam.
The Orioles scored five runs in the bottom of the third to take a 6-1 lead. Toronto committed two errors that accounted for four of those runs. Steve Pearce contributed a run-scoring double that raised his spring RBI total to 10. He has seven hits in 13 at-bats.
Chris Davis has a single and double today. Nolan Reimold has homered, walked and reached on an error.
Cal Ripken Jr. made his first visit to the Ed Smith Stadium complex today to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and sign copies of his new children’s book, “Wild Pitch” - the third in a series of six books that will be distributed.
Ripken brought 400 copies of the book today and sold them all. The Iron Man could be sidelined with writer’s cramp.
Ripken took a tour of the complex and called it “a true big league set-up.”
Asked for his early impressions of the team, Ripken said the following:
“To me, what I like is they have a lot of depth in their starting staff, a lot of choices. And choices are sometimes hard to make, but last year, the starting staff of the Orioles looked one way in the first half, and in the second half, it looked a little different. (Chris) Tillman threw well and (Miguel) Gonzalez there well. Coming into this year, you have more choices and more opportunities, and that makes me feel good because you never know what’s going to happen. You can’t have too much depth in your starting staff. And they look like a confident ballclub. They proved that they could execute and play well.
“The bullpen was the best in all of baseball last year. You’d be a little bit foolish to think you could duplicate all the one-run success that they had, but I would imagine they’re still going to be a good one-run team, and that makes a difference in making the playoffs or not. I’m extremely excited.”
Manager Buck Showalter took advantage of the opportunity to pick Ripken’s brain on a few baseball matters.
“He pulled me in there and asked me about a couple bunt plays they were thinking of doing,” Ripken said. “He has this passion for the game. He’s a true thinker. Old school and a little new school all at the same time. I always thought he was a fantastic baseball guy, had success wherever he went. He seems to be evolving and becoming a better leader overall. It almost seems like the team looks at him a little bit more in a fatherly sort of way, which is cool.”
Ripken stated in the past that he would consider a return to baseball once daughter Rachel and son Ryan were in college. Well...?
“It’s always flattering to be thought of in the way that I’ve been thought of. I’ll put it that way. And there’s a side of me that wants to be challenged in a big league way. What that is, I’m not sure,” he said.
“I did make a choice when I got away from baseball to be there to get my kids off to college. That was my mindset. And now that they’re off to college could be a time in life where you think about those things coming up. Don’t know yet.”
What about donning the uniform again?
“I’d have to get a little bit bigger uniform these days,” Ripken joked. “I don’t know. That’s a weird feeling. There’s something special about putting that on and going out there and doing what you did for all those years.”
Ripken said he would keep himself “open-minded” to being a spring instructor, as former Orioles B.J. Surhoff, Chris Hoiles, Al Bumbry and Scott McGregor, among others, have done.
Ripken remains close friends with Brady Anderson, recently promoted to vice president of baseball operations.
“Talking to Brady and seeing how engaged he is, Brady was always one of the smarter guys around and he is very passionate about all aspects of the game,” Ripken said. “To see him talking and being on the inside, I’m a little jealous at times. But I have kept myself pretty busy and I’m not quite ready to give up what I’ve been doing or my availability. But certainly, my conversations with Brady time to time, feels like you’re on the inside and in the know a little bit more than you have been in the past.”
Asked if Anderson is trying to talk him into a return to baseball, Ripken laughed and replied, “Is he recruiting me? No, I don’t think so. At least he hasn’t shown his hand yet if he was.”