Cruising into another press conference

SARASOTA, Fla. - Another day, another press conference.

We're not in Baltimore anymore.

The Orioles will introduce outfielder Nelson Cruz to the media at 9:30 a.m., with the press conference airing live on MASN HD. Cruz will head to the back fields afterward for his first official workout.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette inadvertently stirred up another rumor, and a portion of the fanbase, by stating yesterday on 105.7 that the Orioles would sign another hitter in the next day or two.

Folks, he was referring to Cruz.

The Orioles have dodged serious injuries in the first two weeks in camp, but they've got a handful of nagging ones.

Brian Matusz will have another wart removed from his left index finger on Monday. The Orioles were told it could grow back after he underwent a laser procedure three springs ago.

To answer a popular question yesterday, there are doctors in Sarasota who are skilled in wart removal, but the Orioles want the same Philadelphia specialist to take care of it. It's not like he's flying across the U.S. or leaving the country. He will be back in camp by Monday night.

Outfielder Quintin Berry had an MRI on his back last night to make sure he wasn't dealing with anything more serious than spasms. It was done as a precaution "just because of how much pain I was in when it first happened," he said.

First baseman Chris Marrero still can't practice because of an oblique injury, and he won't play in the two intrasquad games this week. He remains shut down through Thursday.

Miguel Gonzalez's back is fine and he's supposed to start Saturday's home exhibition opener against the Jays. Reliever Kelvin De La Cruz seems to be over his hamstring injury.

(Confession: I thought De La Cruz was a strong candidate to be designated for assignment yesterday to create roster space for Cruz.)

No more stomach issues for outfielder Henry Urrutia.

Showalter didn't have any updates on pitcher Alfredo Aceves, who left camp four days ago to obtain his work visa in Mexico.

Major League Baseball is implementing new rules to protect catchers from violent collisions at the plate. The subject hits close to home for Showalter - see what I did there? - because of his concerns for Matt Wieters.

"The big thing we're trying to eliminate, and I wholeheartedly support it, is the cheap shot collision where the guy is completely exposed, doesn't have the ball and some guy hunts him," Showalter said. "We've had it happen with Matt a couple times and if you remember, we were real unhappy about it.

"I can still remember the player that did it, players, with no intent to score. Had the plate given to him, could have slid and just hit him very maliciously. We're going to get that out of the game.

"We're not taking blocking the plate out. If a guy has the baseball, he can still take the plate. We're not going to take that play away, the way I understand it. It's just blocking the plate without the ball and a guy coming after a catcher when he's defenseless. Those two things are not going to be tolerated.

"I have a lot of confidence Matt knows when and what is right and what puts him in harm's way. He knows what he means to us."

Here's more on Rule 7.13 covering collisions at the plate, as explained in an MLB press release:

(1) A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the Umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the Umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball). In such circumstances, the Umpire shall call the ball dead, and all other base runners shall return to the last base touched at the time of the collision.

Rule 7.13 Comment: The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner's lowering of the shoulder, or the runner's pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 7.13. If the runner slides into the plate in an appropriate manner, he shall not be adjudged to have violated Rule 7.13. A slide shall be deemed appropriate, in the case of a feet first slide, if the runner's buttocks and legs should hit the ground before contact with the catcher. In the case of a head first slide, a runner shall be deemed to have slid appropriately if his body should hit the ground before contact with the catcher.

(2) Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. Notwithstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 7.13 if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner and that contact with the runner was unavoidable.

Somewhere, Ray Fosse is saying, "Oh sure, now!"

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