Pitchers, catchers happy to be at camp
Trachsel takes physical, expected to be introduced Thursday
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It's official. Pitchers, catchers and reporters showed up at Baltimore's Spring Training complex on Wednesday to signal the start of spring camp. The Orioles didn't hold an organized workout, but the players who showed up took time to throw the ball around and get to know their new teammates.
Three of the five expected starting pitchers were on hand, and offseason relief acquisitions Jamie Walker, Chad Bradford and Danys Baez were all part of the mix. The Orioles will hold their first workout on Thursday afternoon, and Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo seemed excited to see everything come together.
"I'm anxious to get going," he said. "You get to a certain point in time during the winter when things are moving along a little slow, and then it gets close. You just say, 'It's time to get back to work.' I'm kind of excited about this year."
The Orioles had a little more excitement than usual, thanks to some last-minute news that greatly impacts the starting rotation. Veteran stalwart Kris Benson has a partially torn rotator cuff and will likely miss the entire season, and the Orioles are expected to introduce free-agent righty Steve Trachsel as his replacement on Thursday.
"I think he's solid. He comes in and you know what he is going to give you," said Bradford, who played with Trachsel on the Mets last season. "He goes out there and he's a professional. He's been that for years. He's got a lot of years in the league. He knows what he's doing. He's a 15-game winner. You can't really argue with that."
Trachsel reportedly agreed to terms Monday and spent Tuesday taking a physical in Baltimore. The pitchers and catchers weren't required to be in camp Wednesday, but they're supposed to be in town and in contact with the team.The position players will report on Monday, and the team will hold its first full-squad workout on Tuesday.
"I think, this year, we'll try to be a little more demanding of our ballclub all the way around," said Perlozzo, who's entering his second Spring Training as a manager. "More demanding from everyone -- including myself. I think we're on the verge of getting to the next level, so I think we have to be serious about it and go after it."
The Orioles had a busy offseason, spending more than $40 million on a complete bullpen overhaul and adding starters Jay Payton and Aubrey Huff to the offensive mix. Huff is expected to float between left field, first base and designated hitter, while Payton will likely get most of the starts in left and some spare playing time in center field.
"We made some good additions, I think, over the winter," Perlozzo said. "We shored up the bullpen and we added Aubrey Huff and Jay Payton. I feel like our lineup is as professional as it's been the last couple of years.
"If our starting pitching responds the way we hope it can -- with the fact that our bullpen's been replenished -- we have a chance to make some good progress."
The heart of the team, though, is still in the starting rotation and the middle infield. Baltimore's shortstop and second baseman -- Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts -- started for the American League at the All-Star Game just two years ago. The starting staff, meanwhile, features three homegrown arms and a potential All-Star in Erik Bedard.
Bedard has a potential arbitration case pending and said that it may go all the way to a hearing. The southpaw said that he'd like to avoid that possibility, but he acknowledged that it may be impossible. For now, he's worried about working back into pitching shape and trying to avoid any complacency that could creep in after a career year.
"Let's just say the offseason went by way too fast. Time flies when you're having fun," Bedard said. "I don't change anything. I've been doing the same work I've been doing for the past five years. It's just that now I've had a full season in without getting hurt. I finished strong, and hopefully I'll be able to do it again this year."
Baltimore's first exhibition game is March 1 in Jupiter against the Marlins. The first home game is the following day at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. The Orioles have 14 home games, but they'll only see eight different teams. Florida and St. Louis -- the defending World Series champions -- play a combined seven times in Fort Lauderdale.
Toward the end of March, the Orioles leave Florida and embark on a brief barnstorming tour. They'll play against the Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, on March 29 and in Norfolk, Va., on March 30. The final spring game will be held in Washington's RFK Stadium, and Baltimore will have an open workout at Camden Yards on April 1.
For now, though, most of the players are just happy to be back in the clubhouse.
"I've been ready to get down here and get going," Bradford said. "I've been excited for a few weeks. Once you get off the mound, you kind of get your mind ready to get down here and get started."
"It seemed like it went a while for me," said Adam Loewen, one of the team's young starters. "I had that one injury I had to rehab and that took a month, and last year, I was in the Arizona Fall League. This was the longest offseason I've ever had. As soon as I get away from the game for about two weeks, I am ready to get back into it."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.