Jackson, Martin and Means on first opening day experiences

NEW YORK - The day has finally arrived. On the road, in the cold, but filled with excitement for players experiencing their first opener in the majors.

The Orioles have two Rule 5 infielders on the roster, with Richie Martin starting at shortstop and Drew Jackson waiting his turn on the bench at Yankee Stadium.

“Right now I’m super excited and obviously there’s nerves, but I think once I go out there, that’s when it will really hit me. I’ll look up and see everyone,” Jackson said.

“This is taking it all in. That’s what everyone has told me, just take it all in and enjoy it and that’s what I’m going to do. Go about my business the same way that I do in spring training and I have in the past, but ultimately just enjoy every second of it.”

Jackson, acquired from the Phillies to close the Rule 5 portion of the Winter Meetings, heard from manager Brandon Hyde on Sunday to eliminate any lingering doubts about his status. The official roster was released this morning.

“I was told on Sunday morning before the flight, but going into the last few days I felt good about it,” Jackson said, “but I hadn’t heard any word, so it was very relieving to hear Brandon tell me that I made the team.”

Could there be a better spot for Jackson to debut, given the history here and the atmosphere?

“I mean, I couldn’t think of one,” he said. “Maybe if we were opening in San Francisco because that’s where I grew up, but this is the mothership.

“So far it’s been incredible. I came yesterday and I was able to go out on the field and it’s breathtaking with nobody in the stands. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like in a full stadium.”

Martin has been to Yankee Stadium in the past. His eyes aren’t quite as wide, but he’s loving the entire experience.

“I’ve watched a few games here. My sister lives here, so I’ve come to a few games,” he said.

“You work for this your whole life. It’s pretty cliché, but it’s hard to put into words because I looked forward to this my whole life. And this has really been my whole life, just working toward getting to the big leagues. And my motivation now is to just stay here.”

Martin also found out Sunday that he’d made the club. A foregone conclusion, perhaps, but he wasn’t making any assumptions and warned family to remain patient.

“Hyder told me right before the game,” Martin said. “He was making his rounds telling everybody who made it. So right then.

“I had no clue. I don’t know how it works, so I was just waiting for the go-ahead. I really had no idea. I was telling everybody, cause my pops was booking his flights and I was like, ‘Man, you better hold off, because I don’t know what the deal is, I don’t know how it works up here.’ Yeah, it was refreshing to hear Hyde tell me on the last day.”

Means-Set-Spring-sidebar.jpgLeft-hander John Means also is included among the 11 Orioles making their first opening day roster, unsure how he’ll be used but willing to work in any role.

“I was told the last day of camp, but I don’t know, just because it wasn’t official until today I was just kind of waiting and making sure,” he said.

“It’s unbelievable. I mean, Yankee Stadium, opening day, definitely excited to be here. Still feels like an outer-body experience, you know? Still not sure I’m actually here or not. But I feel good and I’m excited.”

Means is a third left-hander in the bullpen today with Richard Bleier and Paul Fry, the Orioles choosing him over Tanner Scott.

“I think their role for me is to be somebody that they have that can do it all,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of ‘pen work in spring training, so I think that’s where I’m going to start and come out of the ‘pen and if I do well kind of switch me around, maybe be an opener. I don’t know. But yeah, I think that’s where they have me, and I can do it all.”

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