SARASOTA, Fla. - It’s been raining hard for most of the morning at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. Players are taking their swings in the indoor batting cage. Pitchers will have to throw under cover.
The sun is starting to peek through the clouds. It could be sunny and humid within a matter of minutes. The weather changes in the blink of an eye down here.
Jack Cust arrived this morning, greeted a couple of reporters at his locker and headed to the cage. He’s trying to land a minor league deal and a spring training invite.
Other players who occupied the clubhouse this morning included Dylan Bundy, T.J. McFarland, Kevin Gausman, Steve Johnson, Tommy Hunter, Ryan Webb, Josh Stinson, Brad Brach, Parker Bridwell, Tim Berry, Eduardo Rodriguez, Mike Wright, Hunter Harvey, Liam Hendricks, Michael Ohlman and Steel Russell. Nolan Reimold has a locker set up and should be here shortly.
Delmon Young, who signed a minor league deal last night, will show up at the complex on Wednesday.
Hunter is one of the veteran guys who’s currently here. He got married on Jan. 4 in Ohio, and while he’s been able to work out, he still needs to get into a routine as spring training approaches.
“I was going to be here anyway,” he said. “With the wedding and the offseason, this is going to be my month, month-and-a-half to get ready. I’ve got to get ready, so that’s why I’m here. It kind of fell into a perfect spot for me to be here. It just came together. (Buck Showalter) called me and said they were putting this on and I was like, ‘That’s a perfect time to come go,’ because I’ve got to get ready. I’m ready to get in a routine and this is going to jump-start it.
“I’ve been working out. We’ve been doing some stuff, but this is the time. Get on a routine being here every single day.”
Hunter said 12 inches of snow fell the day before his wedding, and the temperature dipped to minus-13 degrees the day after the ceremony. However, it was 35 degrees and sunny for the wedding.
“We were like the eye of the storm,” he said.
The heat may be turned up on Hunter, who is expected to close for the Orioles this season unless they make a late acquisition.
“Of course you hear it. There’s a lot of people who talk to you about it, kind of want to have the ins and outs,” he said. “I don’t know, man. I have no idea. I could give you the whole cliched answer about just show up and play ball and let things take care of itself.”
On the other end of the spectrum - but on the same side of the clubhouse - is young right-hander Hunter Harvey, 19, the Orioles’ first pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Harvey posted a 1.78 ERA in eight starts with the Gulf Coast League Orioles and short-season Single-A Aberdeen, walking six and striking out 33 in 25 1/3 innings. He’s at mini-camp to “hopefully just learn some stuff about pitching,” he said.
“The big league manager is here, Buck, and the big league pitching coach (Dave Wallace), so it was nice to meet them and it was nice to meet some of these big league guys and talk to them a little bit. I’m here to get some knowledge from it.
“I’d say this is a pretty big opportunity. It’s my first year in spring training, and coming here and being able to do this is a pretty big honor.”
Harvey was mostly pleased with his first professional season, being fresh out of high school.
“It was a big jump,” he said, “but I think it went OK.”
Harvey said he needs to work on commanding his pitches and “learning how to pitch the game the right way.”
“I’m just trying to get balance and work on my mechanics, he said.
Harvey gets plenty of help at home from his father, former major league closer Bryan Harvey. His brother, Kris, played minor league ball in the Marlins and Pirates systems.
“They both went through it, so they can give me knowledge on what they did and I can follow the adjustments they did,” Harvey said. “Just try to help me out that way as much as they can.”