With Spring Training beginning this weekend, that means the weather will begin to warm up, the sun will stay out longer and I won’t be stuck watching the NBA while I fall asleep on the couch.This year looks to be a trying one in Baltimore with many uncertainties floating around, such as Brian Roberts’ head, Nick Markakis’ stomach, Mark Reynolds’ glove, and who the heck will actually pitch in the starting rotation. The man in charge of managing these players, Buck Showalter, took some time out during FanFest to speak with the media.
One question was in regards to Mark Reynolds. Reynolds struggled with his glove last season, committing 26 errors at third and five at first base, where he finished the year. He has worked hard to drop some weight so he can be lighter on his feet—perhaps that will help his fielding.
All signs point to a return to the hot corner in 2012. Showalter said, “If you look at what he’s done this offseason, you know he’s entering into a semi-contract year, depending how you look at it. He’s 15-20 pounds lighter than he was last spring, he looks great, and talking to him, he has a real passion about showing the people in Baltimore and the baseball world how much better he is than he did statistically at third base.”
Buck says Chris Davis would rather play first base and Reynolds third, and that is where they will start the season.
Showalter even likes the fact that the Orioles lack a designated hitter. “I look at that as an asset to the club. It also allows us to keep some people healthy…I like where we are at the DH spot.”
When talking about all of the pitchers heading into spring training, Buck said that they will have until March 15 before they have to make decisions. He also hinted at some trade possibilities: “I got a feeling something will change between now and that time. if you talk to Dan (Duquette) every day, there’s a lot of scenarios flying around out there in the trade market.”
Showalter also spoke about the pressure the young pitchers have heading into this season. “There may be a little whistle in the graveyard, they also never talk about it. There’s a fine line between being a prospect and a suspect, and they know it’s time to you know what or get off the pot. It’s part of the gig. They understand it. It’s a reality they live with every day.”
It’s fun to talk with Buck Showalter. But the time for talk is over as he begins the serious business of turning this awkward Oriole squad around. Fans have been patient. It is time for a turnaround at Camden Yards.
by Andy Mindzak