DALLAS - Orioles manager Buck Showalter finished a lengthy session with the media a few moments ago. Here are a few topics he addressed:
Are these meetings any different with Dan Duquette?
“There are some similarities. We met as a group this morning, the travel party at 8 a.m. Dan made a lot of assignments, different clubs. We gathered some more information. Everybody has their own personality and how they choose to do things. It’s been fun.
“Sometimes we make too much of these four days. It’s a process that can start last year with conversations at the deadline. Dan was at the GM meetings. We’ve already met with four or five clubs and have a lot of stuff set up tomorrow and the next day.”
Buck is still confident in the club’s young pitchers:
“We are banking on some of the maturing process of our young pitchers. It’s a two- or three-year process for most of them, especially in our division. You have to be true to that process. We think some of those guys are primed to take that next step. Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz are having really good offseasons. More of our focus has been on adding starting pitching (over the bullpen) but that is what other clubs are looking for too. It’s a premium.”
How is the team supervising Brian Matusz’s offseason?
“He’s been monitored directly by Brady (Anderson). He’s been out there along with Joe Hogarty. We’ve gotten great reports back on his progress, he feels great. He started at a high clip very quickly after the season ended. I know Tommy Hunter is getting ready to join that group and (Chris) Tillman is out there. I’ve already gotten reports back on Jim Johnson and (Matt) Wieters showing up in Sarasota the last couple of weeks. Brian Roberts is working too, so far, so good.”
Do you think Brian Roberts will be a full-go in the spring?
“We don’t have any reason to think one way or the other. It’s an inexact thing. I can’t sit here and act like I’m an expert on concussions. We learn something every day. So far, so good. I fully think Brian will come into camp and see how he feels and how it goes. You spend time on “what if” at every position. We operated basically all year without one of the best leadoff hitters in the American League. I’m as curious to see where it takes us as anybody. It’s so hard to handicap.”
Are you comfortable with Robert Andino and the group you have for second base if Roberts can’t play?
“I think Robert really established last year that he could make a contribution to the team, whatever role you put him in. We had interest in him last year at the trade deadline. I think everyone knows that Robert has gone to the next level. In a perfect world, he’d play a different position almost every night to allow us to rest people. I feel good about what he did last year, but still like to have both of them. That would make us a better club. I like the depth we brought in with (Matt) Antonelli and (Steve) Tolleson.”
Is Chris Davis your third baseman?
“I think he or Mark (Reynolds) could play there. We have options that both those guys could play either corner. We’ll see what direction we want to go.”
What could Jim Johnson bring to the rotation if you move him there?
“I think Jimmy is a luxury that he’s capable of doing both. I think he turned the corner last year, especially how he pitched in meaningful games in our division in September and I think other people saw it too. Where Jimmy would fit as a starter has yet to be seen. We know he can do the job he did last year. Lots of people question where the health is likely to fall. I think physically, he’s ready to do either one.”
What determines Johnson’s role for 2012?
“A lot of it is what we do between now and then. What presents itself that may change that. Whether we can attack some things in the bullpen. We can go either way with him.”
Is team still backing the young starters and what did you see with their struggles last year?
“I think just about all of them do (struggle) with very few exceptions. Jake’s struggles, I think, was mostly physical. In talking to him, his arm was here with the bone spur and now he has complete freedom which will be like pitching with a different arm. There will be some adjustments there. We were happy to see how good the ligament was when they went in there.
“Some of the best development of young pitchers happens in the offseason when they are away from it and they kind of step back after two or three weeks. They’ve got it. I said last year the success of our season would be how quickly they develop. Because it was delayed doesn’t mean its denied. And, they do have options.”
Would you be comfortable with Kevin Gregg as your closer again?
“When we examine everything out there and what’s available we are fortunate to have two guys that have done it. We’ll see what the offseason presents. I’m not going to get into if he goes there and he does this. Too many things that could change to say something today that may not come to pass.”
Are there a lot of pitchers available on the trade market?
“There are a lot of pitchers available. They may not be the level that everybody hopes to attain. But if you are talking just trading for a pitcher, you can do it. You hear in these rooms, he’s a five starter, a four, maybe a three. You’d don’t hear many discussions about a two or a one, I can tell you that.”
Would it be tough to trade Jeremy Guthrie?
“It’d be tough. We are not shopping Jeremy by any stretch. Obviously you’d have to get pitching back and it’d be a leap of faith to think you could get someone back to give you 200 innings. But I’ll leave that to Dan. Nobody is shopping a guy that has thrown 600 innings in three years, but I’m sure there will some people kicking the tires on it.”
Are the O’s interested in Manny Ramirez?
“I don’t think we are in a position to completely close the door on anything. I don’t think we are far enough along with anything yet to say that’s in, that’s out.”
Have the Orioles been talking about Manny?
“Not in depth. I think everyone is aware there has been speculation about him coming back, I guess it’s more than speculation. I think everybody kicks the tires on everything this time of year and sees it anything is a fit for it.”