Showalter’s 1st camp with O’s deemed a success
The Baltimore Orioles completed their first camp under Buck
Showalter with a newfound appreciation for a gritty baseball
manager whose reputation as a no-nonsense drill sergeant proved to
be significantly overstated.
Sure, the Orioles covered the fundamentals. Yes, they worked
hard, for some even on what was supposed to be the only ”off day”
of the six-week camp.
In short, they did the things necessary to put them in position
to break a franchise-record run of 13 straight losing seasons.
When they packed their bags Wednesday and headed to Tampa Bay
for Friday’s season opener, the players realized why Showalter
enjoyed success with the New York Yankees, Arizona and Texas.
”It’s the best camp I’ve ever been a part of. Professional and
efficient,” left fielder Luke Scott said. ”There’s no what we
call ‘eyewash,’ when you stand around just going through the
motions to look like you’re doing something. There was none of that
here. Everything we did was productive, with a purpose.”
Do a drill right, and you’re done. That’s the way Showalter runs
a spring training camp.
”It was workmanlike,” reliever Jim Johnson said. ”Just go
about your business and worry about taking care of stuff on the
field and that’s about it. It wasn’t rocket science.
”Before, we’ve done a lot of fundamentals just to do
fundamentals. I think everything we did here was for a purpose,”
he added. ”We weren’t just doing it because we had to kill time.
Pitchers didn’t shag (fly balls), which is nice. There’s really no
point to it. Guys can use that time to get other stuff done. That
was obviously a better thing.”
The Orioles got to know – and appreciate – Showalter to a degree
last year, when he took over a last-place team and went 34-23 over
the final two months. Showalter spent much of that time getting to
know his players and the farm system, and acknowledged that it
wouldn’t be until 2011 that he put his stamp on the club.
So when they arrived at camp in mid-February, the Orioles really
didn’t know what to expect.
”He does a great job of laying down an expectation but keeping
things relaxed. I think that was the thing that surprised me the
most about him,” utility player Jake Fox said. ”You could see in
his eyes, you could see in his face: ‘OK men, we’ve got to get this
done, we’ve got to get after it.’ But at the same time he’s going
to keep it loose, keep it relaxed, throw in a one-liner here or
Last Saturday, center fielder Adam Jones wasn’t on the travel
squad to Port Charlotte. He was sitting in front of his locker at
10:30, showing a reporter pictures on his iPad when Showalter
”Man, when you take a day off, you take a day off,” the
Jones jumped into defense mode, quickly pointing out that he had
already hit the batting cage and wasn’t close to leaving the
Showalter nodded, smiled, and walked away.
Throughout the entire spring, no one pulled a hamstring or
twisted an ankle during drills or in a game. First baseman Derrick
Lee had some issues with his wrist, second baseman Brian Roberts
was bothered by back spasms and pitchers Brian Matusz and Brad
Bergesen were hit by line drives, but they will be ready for
And so are the Orioles.
”I feel real good about where we are,” Showalter said. ”We
had a list of things we wanted to accomplish. We had some
challenges health-wise, but we’re back on track now. We weren’t
fully expecting that. If you had told me we were going to be where
we are physically going over to Tampa, I would have signed up for
it in blood.”
The aftereffects of Showalter’s first camp with the Orioles
won’t be apparent for a while, but the players enter this season
ready to compete in the unforgiving AL East.
”I think we’re ready, man. Guys are having great at-bats,
defensively they’re doing their work, guys are running out balls,
they’re doing things the right way,” Scott said. ”No one can
predict results, but when we go out on the field, the guys are