SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are heading back to Bradenton tonight, where their first attempt to play the Pirates was washed away by rain. I drove there, set up in the press box, met with manager Buck Showalter in his office, watched him examine the outfield with the umpires, and drove back to my hotel.
I still tingle over the memory.
We have a night game, which means the media isn't allowed inside the Orioles' clubhouse in Sarasota before 1:30 p.m. It's almost like a day off. More tingles.
It also means that, with the crappy lights in Bradenton, we should just sit in a circle and tell ghost stories. Maybe do each other's hair.
A reminder that Wei-Yin Chen gets the start, with Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Daniel Schlereth also scheduled to pitch. Schlereth hasn't been seen in a game since Feb. 27 against the Boston Red Sox, when he allowed a run in 1 1/3 innings.
Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland was slated to pitch tonight, but he got into yesterday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays and gave up one run and two hits in 1 1/3 innings. He's allowed four runs and six hits, and walked four batters, in 3 2/3 innings.
"McFarland's last two outings, you're starting to see why he was ... he's getting a little better," Showalter said. "I told you he's had success and the last thing you want to do is have him come in and change him. After two or three outings, Rick (Adair) said, 'I'd really like to try a couple of things with him. He's a little out of whack.' And his last couple of outings have been pretty good. Really like the sink."
I passed along a bunch of quotes yesterday from Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who made his first trip to the Ed Smith Stadium complex. Here are a few leftovers:
"The Orioles' trademark for years was their execution, their fundamentals and those sorts of things," he said. "There's a great emphasis and a great competence that Buck brings to the table, and that translates into executing on the field and giving you confidence in those tight ballgames.
"I remember in a tie ballgame late in the year, we'd be there and everybody would be loose in the dugout saying, 'Let's just stay close and it will be our game. They'll walk somebody to start off the inning and we'll win the ballgame.' That sort of attitude seems to have permeated last year's club, and from a talent standpoint, you look around and they're a good club and they have every reason to believe they'll compete.
"You can't just show up and expect to win. You've still got to go out and execute and go out and play, but I don't think they're going to fall for the fact that they were good last year and all of a sudden, now, it's just a matter of showing up. They're going to go play."
Has Ripken seen a change in the culture here?
"I feel very comfortable," he said. "Buck has invited me into the clubhouse a number of times. I got a chance to talk to him every day during the playoffs last year, which I really enjoyed, being down in that environment. Certainly, it's a baseball environment, it's a baseball place. It feels good to be there."