SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles take the field to stretch at 9:30 a.m. today and the clubhouse is closed to the media until players return to it two hours later. No morning access due to a meeting.
Miguel Gonzalez will make his first start since taking a comebacker off his left shin, spinning and landing behind the mound. The Red Sox are starting right-hander Allen Webster.
The Orioles have scored 36 runs in their last four games over three days. Is that a lot?
Outfielder Quintin Berry is 29-for-29 in stolen base attempts over parts of two major league seasons, including the playoffs. He was thrown out at second yesterday, though he appeared to be safe from way up in the McKechnie Field press box.
Berry could bring a unique element to the Orioles - a basestealing threat. Nate McLouth is gone, and he pretty much stopped running in the second half.
"We did have that dynamic," said manager Buck Showalter. "You look at Chris Dickerson's statistics last year, and (Alexi) Casilla. They brought that element if we wanted to use it. But Quintin, you look at the people that have wanted him on their clubs and the teams that he's played on. He has a skill that tilts the field now and then and makes people hurry up. Plus, he's a plus-defender and a left-handed bat and a guy that's experienced at a lot of high levels of baseball, including the playoffs. And he's also close friends with Adam (Jones) - in that order.
"You've got to ask yourself, 'How much do you need that?' He brings more than a guy who can just steal a base. If he couldn't defend and he couldn't hit at all, then you're really looking at a one-dimensional (player). He does some other things. So do some other guys, like (Jemile) Weeks. He can steal a base. There's a different dynamic there."
Zach Britton is out of options, but not advice. The left-hander has turned mentor to some of the younger pitchers in camp, including Kevin Gausman.
Britton, 26, is ignoring all the rumors about the Orioles' offer to free agent Ervin Santana and how it could impact him. And it ties into his talks with Gausman.
"The best thing there is about being out of options is I can just focus on myself," he said. "When you're a younger guy, and these are things that I've talked to Gausman about, being in the same situation as him, you go out there and you control what you can control. It's easier said than done, because I've been in that young guy's shoes when you have options. But when you're out of options, it's a clear mind. You go out there and you perform.
"I feel like being able to have the focus away from transactions or what's going on with the team and just going out there and focusing on what I have to do to be successful really helps in getting my spring where it is right now. And hopefully, continue to improve.
"I never had the stuff like Kevin and I don't think too many guys in the clubhouse do, but I think the experiences that we have, being a young guy in big league camp and trying to win a spot on the team, I definitely have that experience. So I just tell him, 'Hey, it's out of your control. Go out there and do what you're capable of doing and things are going to work out,' especially for a guy with his stuff."
The Braves suddenly have issues with their rotation and Santana remains on the market. Yeah, I'm guessing that it's no longer a tug of war between the Orioles and Blue Jays.
How do you interpret the following quote from Showalter when asked about Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar's productive stretch at the plate:
"He can hit a fastball."
Does this mean that Almanzar is challenged by breaking balls and off-speed stuff?
Also, Showalter pointed out how Almanzar is getting many of his late-inning at-bats against Double-A pitching. But Showalter also seems intrigued by Almanzar's offensive potential.
I'm just not sure how there's room for him on the roster, especially if Manny Machado avoids the disabled list.
Showalter praised Steve Pearce yesterday, something he's done in the past, but I also wonder how Pearce could make the club if the Orioles hold onto Delmon Young and Nolan Reimold. And certainly if Almanzar sticks. It's not like Nelson Cruz is going anywhere.
No wonder scouts are flocking to Ed Smith Stadium. Between the starting pitchers and the right-handed bats, the Orioles could be appealing trade partners.
Reimold singled, walked and scored two runs yesterday. He's starting to look more comfortable at the plate.
I still get the sense that Steve Clevenger has the edge over Johnny Monell for the backup catching job, but it's an interesting competition. The loser will go down swinging, judging by their early stats.
I keep pushing for the backup to be able to pose a threat at the plate - enough of guys who can't hit their weight - and Showalter keeps stressing defense over offense. I checked into it, and his vote counts more than mine.
Clevenger also can play every infield position. Monell has played first base in the minors, and one game at third.
Here's the Orioles' promotional schedule:
3/31 BOS 2014 Schedule & Car Magnet All Fans
04/25 KC Fireworks (post-game) All Fans
04/27 KC Little League Day #1 Pre-registered little leaguers
04/30 PIT Orioles T-Shirt All Fans
05/11 HOU Mother's Day Cap 1st 20,000 Women 18 & Over
Little League Day #2 Pre-registered little leaguers
05/13 DET Orioles T-Shirt All Fans
05/14 DET Field Trip Day Pre-registered school groups
05/23 CLE Fireworks (post-game) All Fans
05/25 CLE Orioles Ripcord Bracelet 1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over
06/06 OAK Orioles Sunglasses 1st 15,000 Fans 15 & Over
06/07 OAK Manny Machado Bobblehead 1st 25,000 Fans 15 & Over
06/08 OAK Little League Day #3 Pre-registered little leaguers
06/11 BOS Orioles T-Shirt All Fans
06/13 TOR Fireworks (post-game) All Fans
06/14 TOR Oriole Bird Plush Pillow 1st 10,000 Fans 14 & Under
06/15 TOR Father's Day Fedora Hat 1st 20,000 Men 18 & Over
06/27 TB Orioles Floppy Hat 1st 20,000 Fans 21 & Over
06/28 TB Chris Davis Performance Shirt 1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over
06/29 TB 1954 Orioles Cap 1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over
Kids Run the Bases (post-game) All Kids 14 & Under
07/03 TEX Fireworks (post-game) All Fans
07/09 WAS Orioles T-Shirt All Fans
07/30 LAA Orioles Tote Bag 1st 10,000 Fans 15 & Over
08/01 SEA 60th Anniversary 3/4 Sleeve T-Shirt 1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over
08/02 SEA Chris Davis Action Figure 1st 10,000 Fans 14 & Under
08/08 STL 60th Anniversary Fireworks & Laser Show (post-game) All Fans
08/09 STL Wild Bill Cowboy Hat 1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over
08/27 TB Orioles T-Shirt All Fans
08/31 MIN Kids Orioles Jersey All Kids 14 & Under
Kids Run the Bases (post-game) All Kids 14 & Under
09/01 MIN Adam Jones Bobblehead 1st 25,000 Fans 15 & Over
09/17 TOR Orioles T-Shirt All Fans
09/19-21 BOS Fan Appreciation Weekend
09/19 BOS Fireworks (post-game) All Fans
09/20 BOS Orioles Knit Cap 1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over
09/21 BOS Fans' Choice Bobblehead 1st 25,000 Fans 15 & Over