It's time once again to tackle the questions that keep popping back up after I've launched myself into them and been flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
You know the routine. I answer them, you ask me again, I answer them, you ask me again. It's the School of Roch dance. Dim the lights and let me lead.
â€¢ Do you think the Orioles have any interest in Ben Sheets?
Nope. That's mostly because he doesn't have any interest in them. It's like telling everyone you dumped a girl after she stopped taking your calls and got a restraining order against you. I mean...that's how I've been told that it works. Anyway, the Orioles didn't attend his throwing session in Louisiana earlier this week. If they were considering him for the rotation, they would have sent a team official or a scout or an office intern with a notepad and meal money. You can...(wait for it)...pull the Sheets over him. The Orioles...(again, wait for it)...will be short-Sheeted when they compile their pitching staff.
â€¢ Where do you think Adam Jones will bat?
In the lineup.
â€¢ Could you try again, please?
It's really too early to be fielding lineup questions. Brian Roberts will bat first. That's pretty much the only certainty. I expect Nick Markakis to bat third again. Jones won't hit lower than seventh, so we're looking at second, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh. We need to wait until the Orioles complete their winter business and see how these guys are swinging the lumber in exhibition games.
â€¢ Is Kevin Millwood unhappy to be with the Orioles? He sounds miserable.
I wondered the same thing after his conference call in Indianapolis. I've heard happier people at a wake. But after listening to a few more of his interviews, I've come to realize that he's just got a low-key personality. Even when he revealed a humorous side, he sounded more like Steven Wright. I don't think he'll be putting whoopee cushions on the clubhouse sofas or running around with a fake arrow through his head, but he's not going to jump off the Warehouse roof, either. He's fine.
â€¢ How many spring training games will air on MASN?
They haven't released that information, but I expect to find out soon. I'll pass it along.
â€¢ Who's replacing Buck Martinez in the MASN broadcast booth?
I never imagined that MASN would need a backup catcher for Martinez. The network is still deciding how to fill his seat. One possibility, as I've written, is to rotate a group of former players, depending where the games are played. Mike Flanagan could factor into the mix. Brady Anderson flew into Baltimore late last week, and I don't think the topic was sit-ups. He could work some games when the Orioles are on the West Coast. I'd personally like to hear Scott Erickson grunt through nine innings.
Gary Thorne: "So what did you usually tell your manager when he tried to remove you from a game?"
Erickson: "Me want ball."
â€¢ Is it true that the founder of Taco Bell died this week?
Yes. It was a drive-thru shooting.
â€¢ Sorry I asked.
Actually, his doctor wanted to give him a prostate exam, but he would only think outside the bun.
â€¢ Is that all you've got?
So far. I'm still working on a "hard or soft shell" joke.
â€¢ Why don't we hear more about Scott Moore?
He's one of the in-house candidates, along with Ty Wigginton, if the Orioles don't sign a third baseman. Moore seemed to fade from memory because he's been hurt the past two seasons and underwent surgery on this thumb last summer after playing in only 32 games at Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles re-signed him as a minor league free agent, and he'll probably impress again in spring training. He usually does.
â€¢ Who will the Orioles sign next?
Somebody pass the crystal ball. I've given up the Mark Hendrickson Watch. Having my car parked in front of his house was beginning to raise suspicions. We could have a new corner infielder in town by the weekend or next week. It's the same group of candidates, including Joe Crede, who still looks like the Orioles' first choice at third base. I can't imagine that a name will be announced that we haven't debated here endlessly, unless Fritz Connally is making a comeback.
â€¢ Would Xavier Nady be a possibility for first base?
I haven't heard his name mentioned once, so I'm going out on a limb to say "no." It could be because of health concerns; it could be because he's viewed as an outfielder; it could be because the front office is getting him confused with former Indians pitcher Charles Nagy. Whatever.
â€¢ Are the intrasquad games at spring training open to the public?
I won't know until I get down there, but I'm pretty sure they were closed at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. I remember charting pitches from the mostly empty stands last year and debating whether I was a total loser or just a partial one.
â€¢ What did you decide?
I think the answer was pretty obvious after I tried to calculate Andy Mitchell's ball-strike ratio.