Today’s game and Arencibia’s offseason training

SARASOTA, Fla. - Bud Norris makes his spring debut today, as the Orioles return home for a 1:05 p.m. game against the Red Sox.

The Orioles will face their second knuckleballer in two days, going from Toronto’s R.A. Dickey to Boston’s Steven Wright.

No, not that Steven Wright.

“I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn’t park anywhere near the place.”

“A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me. I’m afraid of widths.”

“What’s another word for Thesaurus?”

“It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.”

“I went to a restaurant that serves breakfast at any time. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.”

“Sponges grow in the ocean. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn’t happen.”

“I went to a general store. They wouldn’t let me buy anything specifically.”

“I saw a bank that said ‘24-Hour Banking,’ but I don’t have that much time.”

“When I was a little kid we had a sand box. It was a quicksand box. I was an only child .... eventually.”

And my favorite ...

“I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery store. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, ‘Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.’ He said, ‘Yes, but not in a row.’”

Anyway, it’s a different Steven Wright pitching today for the Red Sox, and you can bet that Eddie Gamboa will be studying him, too.

arencibia_orange_spring.jpgYou also can bet that J.P. Arencibia won’t be catching Norris today, since he was behind the plate yesterday in Dunedin. Brian Ward replaced him later in the game. Steve Clevenger made the trip, but didn’t play.

Caleb Joseph was in the clubhouse again yesterday, still waiting for his son to be born. It’s going to happen by Tuesday at the latest.

Arencibia went 0-for-3 yesterday and had a passed ball. He’s been working with bench coach and catching instructor John Russell to improve his work behind the plate, but he’s also trying to cut down on the strikeouts and improve on a .207 lifetime average and .255 on-base percentage in five major league seasons.

He’s got impressive power, having hit more than 20 home runs in two of those seasons and 18 in another, but that’s not enough to win the backup job. Not with manager Buck Showalter calling the shots.

“I feel good. I feel real good,” Arencibia said before heading to Dunedin.

“I feel like I really prepared this offseason and trained as hard as I could and lost weight and got my athleticism back. I feel like it’s been able to help, especially last year, just the second half, having to learn myself again, I think it’s really helped me for this year. Obviously, it’s early, so we’ll just keep going at it, working hard every day and see what happens.”

Arencibia decided to find out whether less really is more.

“I lost 18 pounds,” he said. “Last year I played at 220 and I just couldn’t move. I was strong, but I was like 14-15 percent body fat and I’m 11 this year. I tried to really trim up and go back to being more athletic, because I think that’s what hurt me last year, being able to move behind the plate. I think defensively it took away from my game a little bit, so cleaned that up and feel great.”

The pounds melted away as Arencibia adjusted his diet and began training twice a day.

“I got into Olympic lifting,” he said. “That was before I had signed with the Orioles because the way I figured, it would help me get back my athleticism and explosiveness and stuff like that. And that’s the way they train here, so it happened to be a perfect match. But that was it. Diet and being hungry - hungry as far as being driven.

“I’ve got too much ability to be where I was at, so that’s the way I took it.”

The man is only human, so once a week he treated himself to pizza.

“That was my cheat meal, but other than that, I had somebody cooking for me, so that makes eating healthy fun,” he said. “If I had to cook, it doesn’t ever taste as good.

“If you’re driven enough, none of that stuff really makes a difference. You just want to do everything you possibly can to be the best you possibly can. That’s where my mindset is at.”

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