President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail told me that Brian Roberts is experiencing some minor back pain that’s unrelated to the herniated disk, according to the report that he received.
“Right now, they don’t think it’s a big deal,” MacPhail said. “He might just slide back to baseball activities, depending on how the symptoms progress, but nobody thinks it’s a big deal at this point.”
The Orioles traveled to Port Charlotte today, but Roberts stayed back in Sarasota and hit in the cage.
“He’s going to try to play tomorrow,” said Gary Kendall, the Orioles’ extended spring training coordinator. “I think with what was going on with him, swinging and then getting in his car and loosening up again, and the wetness of the fields, he figured there was going to be some soft turf out there. I think in his mind he thought, tomorrow we’ll be home and he’ll test it out there. It’s nothing injury-related for what he’s here for.
“We play tomorrow morning and he’ll try to go out there and get it going.”
I wrote the name “Trembley” on my notepad earlier today as I prepared for the manager’s pre-game media session.
Old habits die hard.
Interim manager Juan Samuel called Dave Trembley earlier today to check on him and make sure there were no hard feelings. It’s the exact same thing Trembley did with Sam Perlozzo.
“It was kind of awkward for me,” Samuel said. “I thought about it, how should I start this conversation with Dave? I told Andy (MacPhail), ‘I have to call Dave and thank him for keeping me here.’ When he had a chance to make some changes, he kept me here, he trusted me. I wanted to let him know that I appreciate everything he did and it’s nothing against him. I did not see this coming.
“He was very thankful for everything. He said, ‘You are a class act. Thank you very much. You’ll do well.’ I said, ‘Well, we will stay in touch.’ I consider Dave a friend of mine and we’ll definitely stay in touch. But it was a little bit awkward.”
Samuel made it clear in the past that, if he decided to try his hand at managing, he didn’t want it to come at Trembley’s expense. It just worked out that way.
“This was the right time for me, just coming over on an interim basis. We’ll see how this experience goes,” Samuel said.
For Samuel, the biggest challenges will be handling the pitching staff and dealing with all the different personalities.
“You have to identify those guys that you can push, that need to be kicked around a little bit. And there are going to be some of those who are very sensitive and you need to approach those guys different,” Samuel said.
Samuel told the players earlier how much they meant to Trembley and that their former manager would be proud if the Orioles turn things around.
“Just letting these guys know, ‘Hey, it’s up to us to change this thing around,’” Samuel said. “We’ll have to prepare a little better, we’re going to have to tweak some things here and there.”
The tweaking could include the lineup, though I’m not sure how many more combinations still exist. Samuel said he played aggressively and he wants to manage aggressively, and he’ll play around with the lineup and see if he can position some guys who will allow him to do it.
Samuel also told his team that he expects it to play with more energy and to compete. “That’s the No. 1 thing for me,” he said. “If you compete, regardless of the outcome, you go home feeling good. That’s what I’m asking these guys, go out and compete for nine innings, each pitch, each at-bat. That’s what a gamer does and that’s what I want those guys to do.”
I asked Samuel if he noticed that Trembley’s situation had become a distraction in the clubhouse.
“Yes,” he replied. “The clubhouse was more quiet than normal. As you guys know, we have some loud individuals in there. It was very quiet and you just sensed the players probably realized that something’s going to happen or something has to happen.”
Samuel suggested that the regression of some young players can be traced to how the league has adjusted to them.
“As you guys know, the second year is a tough year,” he said.