Anyone surprised that FanFest drew more than 15,000 people yesterday at the Baltimore Convention Center?
Yes, the attendance fell short of the 18,000 in 2013, but judging by a few comments here, I assumed that yesterday's crowd would rival a Tuesday night at Applebee's.
Not much news came out of the event. Manny Machado poured a little cold water on the optimism that he'd be ready on opening day. Just being cautious, I suppose, but fans would have preferred a Joe Namath-type guarantee that he'd be in the lineup against the Red Sox.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed that he discussed an extension for first baseman Chris Davis, but couldn't get a deal done. Davis acted as though he had no idea that talks took place this winter.
Manager Buck Showalter repeated what he alluded to at the mini-camp regarding spring training innings for left-hander Troy Patton, who will serve a 25-game suspension to begin the season. There won't be many of them.
"Why would I give him innings when he can't pitch until April-something when I can use that to evaluate somebody else?" Showalter asked. "I'm not going to have him pitch in an intrasquad game and then there are two months before he pitches (in the majors). He may not pitch a whole lot before we break camp."
Patton told reporters that he has an issue with attention deficit disorder and took Adderall toward the end of the season in an attempt to boost his energy.
"It was a stupid mistake, especially having failed one prior test. I have to deal with it and hopefully come back the 26th game," he said.
"I'm not going to keep Adderall within a mile of me. It's a much more serious suspension next time - 80 games - so my assurance to people is that I can't afford to miss half the season. It's no longer in my repertoire at all. It's over with.
"I wanted to make a point that it was Adderall, not a PED. I don't want fans to associate the Adderall with any sort of steroids or anything of that nature. People take Adderall every day for normal usage. Four times the normal percentage of people in baseball take it than in the real world. It wasn't something I was doing to get bigger, faster, stronger. It was something I was trying to do to have some energy and alertness."
The plan backfired, and it will be interesting to see how Patton is used in camp.
I wonder if a day passes without Showalter being asked whether the club will sign a veteran starter, whether it needs a veteran starter.
"I don't think it has to happen," he said. "If it does, it does. It depends on who that is. Just because a guy has played X number of years doesn't make him a good presence to have around your people. It's more than that. The biggest prerequisite for this guy is being able to pitch well. The rest of it takes care of itself.
"I don't think it's something we can't survive without and compete. If it's the right guy, it would make it easier, but I haven't dwelled on it much. I know what's out there just like you do."
As always, Showalter will proceed as though he's going to manage the guys currently in the organization.
"I'm not going to sit here and talk about other people's players," he said. "I like our guys. You think Zach Britton or Kevin Gausman or T.J. McFarland - I could go on and on - want us to sign another pitcher? You think their parents do? Think their wives do? Don't overlook orchids while searching for roses.
"There's going to be seven or eight people that are signed this offseason that they're going to go, 'Gosh, why did we do that?' I don't spend much time dwelling on them. I really don't.
"I feel good about the upside of some guys. They're in a good spot in their lives and their careers. I'm not going to get into naming names, but when I go down my board in the offseason, I can think of a lot of guys that have got a lot of things behind them. I like the fact that Kevin Gausman got his nose bloodied last year. I like the way he responded. I like what Zach's done this offseason. I look at some of the out-of-options guys. I look at what Chris (Tillman) has done this offseason and the potential for him to make another step. (Wei-Yin) Chen is healthy, Miguel (Gonzalez) is healthy, and they know what their health means to us.
"I always feel good about our chances. The other four teams in our division will let us know how we're doing."
Nonetheless, the Orioles are trying to sign another veteran starter. There's no disputing that fact. And a few players have noted how the club would benefit from bringing one into the mix.
"We have two or three guys who respond when you say, 'Are you worried about pitching?' And they go, 'Yeah, we'd like to have one more.' But they're not going to say, 'Because we don't want Kevin Gausman on the team,' " Showalter said. "We get to the point where we're sending some guys down that we'd really like to keep, that's what I'm hoping happens."
Adam Jones was asked if the team needs a veteran starter.
"You know me, I love in-house guys. I think we have guys in-house who can do it," he said. "But obviously, adding somebody that can teach these guys, give them more knowledge on the game, teach them a better work ethic ... you always want to add somebody that can better your clubhouse. We really don't have a veteran guy. It could help, but what guy's the perfect guy? What guy's the perfect fit? And how much money? That's the name of the game nowadays. How much money?
"I don't look at the books. All I can do is ask Dan and ask Showalter what their ideas are. But at the end of the day, I'm playing center field. I really don't have control over that."
While the focus remains on the rotation, the Orioles continue to check the market for relievers.
"Believe me, I know a lot more than I'm saying here," Showalter said. "We've got a lot of irons in the fire, we've got things going on. Some will work out, some won't, but I try not to think the sky is falling or it's going to be sunny forever after something good or bad happens. I try not to live in that world. If something comes along, yeah.
"Everybody wants to have a bird in the hand track record thing. Sometimes, track records aren't followed. It depends on what year it is. I'd rather dwell on helping these guys develop a track record."
Showalter appreciated the turnout at FanFest, which provided another reminder that spring training is right around the corner.
"My wife and I were talking about it coming in today," he said. "You can see the snow on the ground starting to melt. It's kind of like a rite of spring. She's already told me I need to go on down to Sarasota. I'm getting that faraway look in my eyes and I'm not listening to her anymore. Why don't you go to Sarasota? But you see what opening day and the thought of another Orioles baseball season means to everybody."
My apologies to the fan at the media forum who asked me to flex. My sweater ruined any chance of a gun show. And it's not like anyone purchased vouchers for one.
Rumor of the day: Hitting coach Jim Presley left FanFest early to watch someone work out at Camden Yards. Duquette skipped his scheduled appearance at a third fan forum, for player development, presumably to join Presley.
From what I've gathered, there wasn't anything to it. However, there's a chance that a pitcher could sign a minor league deal, which isn't related to the rumor and isn't going to rock your world. Has nothing to do with the club's pursuit of A.J. Burnett or another starter on the free agent market.
Seahawks 27, Broncos 20.