Spring Training, Day 3: Now THAT’S Spring Training

After a long drive up the coast last night, I have settled in for a stretch of several days based out of Tampa. Today was my first time working at Steinbrenner Field, a place where I did once sit in the stands (and saw Chris Duncan hit a home run off Randy Johnson, back when it was still called Legends Field).

Anyway, I had two assignments today: a column (which will be up soon) and helping out my teammate Brittany Ghiroli with Orioles coverage. The O’s had a day-night split-squad, so Britt stayed back in Sarasota for the night game while I took the day game in Tampa.

Manager Buck Showalter’s hope before the game was a quick one, so that he could get on the road and back down to Sarasota without having to cut it too close before the 7 pm start. No such luck. The game lasted nearly 3 1/2 hours, including a Yankees rally in the bottom of the ninth.

So sometime around the 7th, the Orioles PR rep told me and the only O’s beat writer who made the trip that we would get Showalter a little after 4 pm, regardless of whether the game was finished. The plan was that he would duck out, miss the end of the game if need  be, and hit the highway.

Didn’t happen that way. Showalter wanted to see young Devin Jones pitch. So three of us media types were escorted down the tunnel to the entrance to the dugout. We waited right there for the top of the 9th to finish. When the bottom of the 9th began, Showalter made his way over to us.

He began answering questions while also watching the game. He’d be asked a question, start an answer, pause, lean forward to see the pitch, then return to his answer. It went on like this for a few minutes. We got what we needed, thanked him, and left.

Not exactly the kind of thing that happens in July.

Today’s game in a nutshell: A lot of runs. A lot of hits. Five — count ‘em, FIVE — Yankee errors. A very rough start for Nik Turley. Some heat from Dylan Bundy. And a spectacular play deep in the hole by Ryan Flaherty. O’s win, 10-7.

Quote of the day: “Whoever might be predicted last in the American League Central would probably have a great argument as to why somebody was wrong. People that play the game know that ‘they say’ is the biggest liar. I know what they say about us. We’re supposed to be in last place. That’s all right. Our guys, they’re used to that environment. … I kind of like that we’re getting some help, putting us back in that same mentality.” – Showalter

Player of the day: Bundy. He wasn’t perfect. Might have missed his location a couple of times. But he’s got the stuff to get away with the occasional miss, and boy did he unleash some beauties. Two innings, one hit, one walk, one strikeout.

Miles driven: 4 so far today, 428 for the trip.

Miles run: 3 today, 6 for the trip

Diet sodas consumed: Still sitting on 2.

Starbucks trips: 1 today, 3 for the trip (proud of myself for not making a coffee stop on the trip up from Fort Myers last night)

Up next: Back down the coast to Port Charlotte for a promising Rays-Tigers tilt. I’ll be on columnist duty, rather than beat work.

And, finally, the playlist:

I’ve been buried deep in a mid-90s hole lately, revisiting the stuff I loved most in college. So here are five of the songs you’d have been most likely to hear blaring out of my dorm room between September of 1992 and June of 1996:

Everclear, “Her Brand New Skin”
Smashing Pumpkins, “Mayonaise”
New Order, “Regret”
Oasis, “Champagne Supernova”
Pearl Jam, “Leash”

-M.

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