SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Baltimore Orioles pitchers and catchers took the field late Friday morning, and even though it’s something Buck Showalter has been through countless times before, every year it’s special for him.
“It’s a fun day. It’s fun for everybody,” Showalter said. “It’s a beautiful day. I can’t tell you how many times I look out there and say, ‘We get paid for this?’”
The Orioles have had a tumultuous offseason.
Gone are longtime second baseman Brian Roberts, left fielder Nate McLouth and closer Jim Johnson. Their replacements aren’t necessarily obvious.
There are many new players on hand, and another, South Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon, who took his physical on Friday and already has a locker in the clubhouse, could join the team soon.
Several of Baltimore’s regulars are already here. Besides catcher Matt Wieters, outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis and first baseman Chris Davis reported early.
Third baseman Manny Machado, who is recovering from October surgery on his left knee, hasn’t been spotted. He won’t play in spring games before mid-March and perhaps beyond that.
“I’m not going to ask Manny every day, ‘how you feel now? How you feel now?’” Showalter said.
“We’re not going to get involved in that schedule. It’s not productive on Manny mentally. He’s worth waiting on. When he’s right, he’ll play. I’m glad that we think what we’ve done, and he’s done, we don’t have to worry about in May or June, a missed step, and something’s happened.”
Baltimore has to decide on a fifth starter and a few spots in the bullpen. Wieters needs a backup and a few bench spots have to be assigned.
Showalter has lots of new faces to know and to evaluate.
“My biggest challenge is I’ve got to slow myself down. Keep in mind the tempo and the process of everything. You know where you want to end up, but you got to go through the steps to get there.
“It’s exciting. I think everybody that’s been in the game for a long time you got that moment … where all of a sudden you get the sense of anticipation that you can’t wait to get out there in that environment. Because it’s something you are comfortable in. I had a little trouble sleeping last night for the right reasons,” Showalter said.
The Orioles‘ first spring game is on Feb. 28 at Tampa Bay.