Leading off the morning with Lough

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are hitting the road today, making their second trip to Port Charlotte to play the Rays.

David Lough led off yesterday and doubled in his first at-bat. He manufactured a run by taking third on Adam Jones’ fly ball and scoring on Chris Davis’ sacrifice fly.

Lough reached on an infield hit in the eighth to go 2-for-4 with two runs scored and leave his slash line at .321/.367/.500 in 10 games.

Davis leads the Orioles with nine runs scored in 10 games. Lough, who missed more than a week with neck stiffness and symptoms that included dizziness and eye floaters, is tied for second with seven.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “It’s all about getting your timing back. When you’ve been shut down for four or five days, it’s kind of like, all right, its baseball, but I feel good. I’m starting to get it back and just trying to do what they ask.

“I led off (yesterday), just trying to get on base, and look what happens when I get on base. I score runs. Look who’s hitting behind me. It’s an army behind me. It really is. It’s awesome. But just getting back in the swing of things and getting comfortable.”

The popular opinion is that Nick Markakis will bat leadoff to start the season, but Lough is a worthy candidate. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters yesterday that Lough could hit first, second, eighth or ninth.

“I like leading off,” Lough said. “I also like two, and eight and nine aren’t bad spots either. I feel comfortable any position he puts me in.

“Like I’ve said, my role is to come in here and provide energy. I obviously work hard and I play hard. I’m one of those guys who’s trying to mess with the other teams, make their job difficult. When I get on the bases, make them worry about me and not the hitter. And then the next thing you know, there’s one out of the park because they mess up on the pitch or something. That’s what I’m here for.”

The Orioles acquired Lough from the Royals for infielder Danny Valencia, viewing him as a potential replacement for Nate McLouth without any idea of his hidden talents.

The players put on a talent show inside the clubhouse each spring, and it’s become quite elaborate. They set up a stage this year and entertained teammates, Showalter and the coaching staff.

Lough brought down the house with a trick that he needs to describe. I can’t do it justice.

It’s visual, but you’ll get the idea.

To set it up, Lough drank out of a can without using his hands.

“I actually saw it on YouTube and it was actually a guy who was drinking a beer,” Lough said. “Basically, he put a can on top of his forehead and said that he was going to drink the beer with no hands. He kind of got down on his knees and kind of worked his way until he was on his back. And then from there ... so it’s sitting on his forehead and he’s on his back, and he brings his legs all the way up, gets the can in between his legs, flips all the way over. The can will sit on the ground.

“So now he has it on the ground. Then you just pop it with your teeth, move the cap over to the side so you can get your two front teeth on the top of it, and then your other teeth go on the bottom lip, and then you just pick it up and drink it.”

Lough is the guy with three percent body fat, a fitness nut who allows himself to eat pizza only twice a year. He had to take a healthy route to executing his trick.

“I didn’t drink a beer,” he said. “I don’t drink Coke. It was organic coconut water. I was like, ‘All right, where am I going to find something that’s like decently healthy?’ So I go to Whole Foods and I’m looking through the aisle and I come across a can of coconut water and I’m like, ‘Yes, perfect.’ It ended up working out. I didn’t mess up or anything.

“I practiced the day of because I was shut down and it involved my head, so I didn’t want to mess with it. So, I was getting kind of nervous the day of. I’m like, ‘OK, now I’ve got to practice.’ I went back in the video room for like two hours trying it and I mastered it. It ended up being good. It was a good talent.

“A lot of people did skits, and I go up there by myself and start doing that stuff. I played circus music, too.”

Yes, he did. Lough then mimicked the sound of that music, much to the amusement of the folks standing by his locker.

What’s not to like about this guy?

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