SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles will play intrasquad games on Wednesday and Thursday next week, with the innings tentatively set for eight and four, respectively.
No word on whether the games are open to the public.
Manager Buck Showalter had to cancel a pop-up drill today because heavy rains soaked the outfield. However, he praised the grounds crew for getting the practice fields in good shape in a short amount of time.
Showalter wouldn’t comment on the team’s agreement with Nelson Cruz on a one-year, $8 million contract. It’s not official until the results of the physical come back clean.
“There’s some things we’re talking about and there are some bridges to cross, but like always, things are at a certain stage, some ahead of others,” he said. “Let’s see where it takes us. It will be an interesting 24 to 48 hours from here on. The last 24 have been pretty interesting.”
Reporters kept trying to lure Showalter to talk specifically about Cruz, but he deflected questions like a hockey goalie redirecting the puck, a grin often times creasing his face.
Yes, I said “creasing.” Sort of a hockey term.
Asked if he had any reservations about adding a player who served a suspension for PED use, Showalter replied, “Let’s wait until it happens. I’m putting off a day to answer that because that person hasn’t gotten here yet or signed a contract and it gives me 24 hours to think about that question.
“Obviously, there aren’t isolated cases, so it is something I’ve thought about. I think every case, you can’t throw a blanket over all of them, but we have a tendency to. I’ll have a good answer for you if that happens. It’s something that every manager and coach and potential teammate thinks about.”
Showalter harkened back to other deals made over the winter that extended beyond Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-min Yoon. He also remains sensitive to how the signings in spring training impact other players in camp.
“I get almost as excited when (Carlos) Diaz and (Jomar) Reyes, even Henry (Urrutia) and (Dariel) Alvarez last year,” he said. “Just because they don’t have a major league track record, it’s part of creating that depth. We’re talking about Jimenez and Yoon and potentially somebody else.
“I know, as a manager out there, there are some people who aren’t pulling for these things to happen. I also like the idea that we can keep our depth in fold. This isn’t a normal thing to do to your body. You’re going to have some injuries along the way, so it may feel good to us to add these guys, but I try to stay empathetic to people who don’t like it. But people are going to seek their level sooner or later.”
Showalter wasn’t caught off-guard by the deals struck in Sarasota. As he likes to say, just because something is delayed doesn’t mean it’s denied.
“It doesn’t surprise me the way it plays out,” he said. “Sometimes, there’s the ability to read where things might end up. As painful as it was to lose Jimmy (Johnson), it also allowed us to do some of the things we’re doing now. That was hopefully going to be the end game. You’re just trying to plug some holes.
“It doesn’t surprise me. I kind of try to stay focused on what my job is, but at the same time, I do play with lineups, play with needs and where we’re going to go. I’ve done batting orders and rotations and bullpens and I’ve already done ones here just over the past two, three days.”
The most obvious players impacted by Cruz’s arrival would be Delmon Young, Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce - three right-handed-hitting corner outfield/DH types
Without talking specifically about them, Showalter said, “There’s a lot that can happen between now and the end of March which would enhance their chances of making this club and they control that in what happens over here the next five weeks.”
Showalter managed Cruz for 41 game in Texas during the 2006 season.
“I know him and I’ve had him as a manager, so he’s had a lot of teammates out there,” Showalter said. “He’s not the only guy we’ve done a lot of homework on. (Minor league infield instructor) Dave Anderson coached him the last two, three years. We’ll see.”
Here are some images from Saturday’s workout: