New-look O's arrive at Spring Training
Many young players ready to take mantles of departed ones
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles officially began their Spring Training camp Thursday morning, when their pitchers and catchers arrived for physical examinations and for an afternoon workout. The physicals took all morning and delayed the practice, but Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said he was thrilled by his team's early effort.
"I thought the tempo was good," he said. "The enthusiasm of the players and staff was what was expected. I thought the workout -- after we got all the preliminary stuff out of the way -- went right on time. I was very pleased with the approach we took. It looked like the guys were paying attention to detail but also having fun, and that's what I want them to do."
Trembley spent the morning hours strolling around the clubhouse and getting to know some of his younger charges, and he spent the afternoon walking the fields and supervising the team's pitchers' fielding practice. The Orioles wrapped up the day with some light running and calisthenics, and the catchers took batting practice, on top of everything else.
"The thing with Spring Training is, you want to get your guys into a routine as soon as you can," Trembley said. "I think it's good for your staff, but also good for your players. Get them in a routine of what time we're going to be here and what time we're going to be out on the field. There's certainly a whole lot to cover, before the position players get here."
Baltimore's position players will join the pitchers and catchers for the first full-squad workout on Tuesday, and the team will run through drills for a week before the Grapefruit League schedule begins. So far, Trembley is struck by the youth-filled clubhouse, noting the amount of fresh-faced rookies lined up alongside his veterans.
"I think I've gone up to [a number] of guys once, twice or three times to make sure that if they have any questions or concerns, nothing is too big or too small to ask me about," he said. "I want to make sure those guys feel comfortable. But I saw guys like [Jamie] Walker and [Chad] Bradford going around and introducing themselves."
Baltimore traded two of its most recognizable players -- shortstop Miguel Tejada and staff ace Erik Bedard -- this winter and is proceeding with a full-scale rebuilding project. The Orioles will be heavily built around young pitching, and Adam Loewen and Jeremy Guthrie will likely be the main competitors for the honor of starting on Opening Day.
Right fielder Nick Markakis will key the team's offense, and new trade acquisitions Adam Jones and Luke Scott will have prominent roles from Day 1 of their Baltimore tenure. Aubrey Huff was one of the few position players around camp, though, and Trembley said he may have to issue some reminders about the team's strict policy on facial hair.
"I told them I'm not old enough to play golf." he said, "But to use their terms, they have a mulligan today."
The Orioles play their first spring home game against the Marlins on Feb. 28th, the first of seven times they'll play against Florida during the Grapefruit League schedule. Baltimore won't see a division rival until Boston comes to town on March 7. The Orioles visit the Red Sox the next week and don't have any other games lined up against AL East opponents.
Unlike last year, Baltimore will only have one Spring Training game outside of Florida before the regular season begins. The Orioles will conduct their FanFest in Camden Yards on March 29 and will play the Washington Nationals in D.C. on that same day, and they'll kick off their regular season against Tampa Bay at home on March 31.
Veteran starter Steve Trachsel, who signed with the Orioles on Tuesday, said that the focus shouldn't be any different than last year. Yes, the organization seems to be in more of a rebuilding state than it was at this time last year, but according to Trachsel, that really shouldn't affect the way any of the individual players go about their business.
"Your expectations are still to win. It doesn't matter who's out there," he said of his mind-set. "Part of it is going to be the excitement of seeing young guys getting a chance. Part of it's going to be the veteran guys making sure the young guys are doing things the right way. That will be a bigger role I take on this year, especially with the pitchers. But your goal is still to go out there and win every game. That never changes no matter where you're at."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.