SARASOTA, Fla. - Catcher Matt Wieters arrived in camp this morning with son Maverick. Nolan Reimold played catch on the field and Hyun Soo Kim ran sprints. J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop played catch, grabbed bats and headed to the indoor cage. A few guys took grounders on one of the back fields.
Workouts don’t officially begin until Friday, but players volunteered to head outdoors and get the proverbial ball rolling.
“It’s pretty crowded,” said manager Buck Showalter, who stayed indoors to give players their space in an informal setting. “They enjoy coming here. I think they like being around each other. Great facility, weather’s good. They know it’s going to be competitive.”
The camp roster contains 58 players, the only empty locker situated next to Wieters. Two more players are expected to arrive this spring, with the Orioles determined to sign free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler.
“You always leave yourself some wiggle room,” Showalter said. “I know Dom (Chiti) and Dave (Wallace), today they were talking about, here’s the seven, eight, nine guys who are going to start in the spring, knowing that number could change. Also, keep in mind you could make some move that subtracts somebody from here, so you’ve got to be able to go either way.”
The pitchers currently set to work out as starters probably would remain in place initially after Gallardo’s arrival, “but it might push up the date when you pare that down,” Showalter said without referencing the free agent.
Showalter noticed that pitcher Chris Tillman reported in excellent shape, with more definition in his midsection. The word “abs” was used while Showalter met with the local media in the workroom.
“I haven’t seen that before,” he said.
So what’s the No. 1 point of emphasis this spring?
“I’m not telling,” Showalter said with a laugh. “We had a good meeting yesterday, a couple of hours, all the staff. It’s something that’s kind of ongoing. Actually was writing stuff down in September, things that we really want to try to be better at.
“You know what’s tough about that is you’ve got to keep in touch with the things you did well last year, too, and try to maintain them. Some things you’d like to be better at as a group, but sometimes the skill set is just not there. And you also know that they’re really good at something else.
“There’s no perfect players or managers, but we’ve got some things we’re going to try to be stronger on, and tweak a few things, whether it be a cutoff or relay or if we tweak a bunt defense or pickoff plays. I’ve been talking to some of the players the last couple weeks about some of their ideas, some things we want to do.”
Physicals are held on Friday before the first workout. Jeff Beliveau may be the only pitcher on a restricted schedule following April labrum surgery.
“That’s as thorough a physical as I’ve ever been around,” Showalter said. “You come through that, you should feel pretty good about where you are. That’s why I’m not doing it tomorrow.
“Knock on wood, we probably had the shortest medical discussion we’ve had since I’ve been here in the meeting yesterday with Richie (Bancells).”
Kim, meanwhile, has made a favorable impression on Showalter.
“I think he’s probably putting on a little bit of a stiff front right now, but he’s a funny (guy),” Showalter said. “He looks good. He’s done a little work. So far so good.
“I think he’s going to find out because of the teammates he has that they’re going to make his path a lot easier. And I think he’s going to find that baseball’s baseball. And we’re respectful of where he’s come from. We don’t have all the answers. There are some things we can learn from him. I’m going to pick his brain about some things that they do. We’re not in this world alone.
“Initially, we’re going to adjust to him instead of him being asked to adjust to us. But just from a personality standpoint, I don’t want him trying too hard to fit in. I want him to play, I want him to hit and I want him to contribute.”
Showalter also said his initial plan is to carry the standard seven relievers and four bench players.
“Depending on the personnel, it could change,” he said. “But, yeah, there’s where I’m going in so we can start projecting the spring training competition.”
And, finally, Showalter was asked for his opinion on the offseason.
“It’s always to be continued, whether it’s during the season, from our farm system. You never look at something as a finished product,” he said.
“It’s like your assembling people who play roles in a play, so to speak, that opens up in April, and that’s ongoing. I really like the things we did bringing the people back who were already here. I think they were better than about anything we could have gotten out there from somebody else.
“Just because things are delayed, they’re not denied. There’s a chance we could be in this room again doing something else. And if we don’t, that’s OK, too. It’s not a topic of conversation out there. It really isn’t. Players, coaches, it hasn’t even hardly been brought up, mostly because they know I don’t know. Ignorance is bliss.”
Update: Chris Davis reported to camp this afternoon. Another early arrival.
Jonathan Schoop is one of the early arrivals among position players.
Orioles players stretch before informal workouts at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
Dylan Bundy throws on the day pitchers and catchers report for camp.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy didn’t wait for position players to report to spring training.
Schoop surveys the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Fla.