Spring Training Primer: Buck's non-pep talk on 2017; Jones' mindset; Stewart's opportunity - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Spring Training Primer: Buck’s non-pep talk on 2017; Jones’ mindset; Stewart’s opportunity

What’s happening – The Orioles hold their first full-squad workout today. For the moment, they have 61 players in camp with the addition of Andrew Cashner.

Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette says the Orioles may soon sign a left-handed hitting outfielder, but nothing appears imminent.

Catcher Andrew Susac will be out for several days with a suspected staph infection, manager Buck Showalter said. To take his place, the Orioles will bring in catching help from minor league camp. Martin Cervenka, a native of the Czech Republic, Armando Araiza and Daniel Fajardo are among the catchers that could be added.

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The Orioles have split-squad games on Saturday, so extra catching will be needed.

Showalter and the squad gathered Sunday night, and the planned message from the manager was blunt.

“This is not going to be a celebration of the 2017 season,” Showalter said on Saturday. “If people have thin skin, there’s going to be a problem. This is not a place for thin-skinned people.”

Showalter’s critical words resonated with veteran Adam Jones.

Jones can be a free agent after this season. And while he’s been with the Orioles for 10 years, and has built a huge following with his on-field play and off-field charitable works, he’s not wedded to staying in Baltimore.

“That’s up to the front office. Business is business,” Jones said. “This is my career. This is not the fans’ career, so I’m going to make the best decision for myself and, going forward, I want to win. It’s not about money. It’s winning. I’ve got a lot of friends with rings, hardware … I’ve got a bunch of friends with rings and I ain’t got no ring, so I want to play for something.”

Something to think about – Over the years, Showalter has often avoided using big league pitchers against American League East teams in Grapefruit League games.

This year, that may extend to games versus the Minnesota Twins, against whom the Orioles open the season.

Showalter mentioned Cashner, Kevin Gausman, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day as pitchers who he may not overexpose.

It’s a problem because 18 of the Orioles’ 32 Grapefruit League games are against the AL East and the Twins.

At times, Showalter has wavered and said that he would let pitchers face AL East teams, but ends up keeping them away.

To get the better known pitchers innings, Showalter arranges for them to pitch against National League teams, in “B” games — or in minor league games at Twin Lakes Park.

A name to consider – DJ Stewart. The Orioles’ top draft choice in 2015 is in his first major league camp. He’s not on the 40-man roster, but he’ll likely get a lot of playing time this spring — especially in road games.

Stewart had a good year at Double-A Bowie in 2017, hitting .278 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs. He stole 20 bases while being thrown out just four times, and had a .378 on-base percentage.

The outfielder had struggled early in his professional career.

“I think I just got back to being who I was. And the older you get, the more mature you become, and just staying within myself and not trying to do too much,” Stewart said about his 2017 success.

What they are saying: “Well they trust me, I think. I don’t know. I go out and play hard. I can’t control what other people think. You can tweet out the sky is blue. Someone is going to say it’s cloudy. Just go with the punches. If I play hard, what excuse is someone going to have for me? None? So, if you control yourself and you play hard, play the game with respect, all that other stuff goes to the wayside. The fans in Baltimore know I’m going to give everything I’ve got every day. It may not look pretty. Some days it will, but I’m going to give it all I’ve got. And I think that’s just what they’ve seen from me since I’ve been traded over here.” — Adam Jones on whether the fans have lost trust in the team.

Rich Dubroff covers the Orioles for PressBoxOnline.com. You can read his stories here.

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