SARASOTA, Fla. -- Covering Buck Showalter is often an eye opener. His reputation of being exceptionally prepared and detail-oriented is usually right on.
Case in point: Monday’s schedule, looming bad weather and Showalter’s shell game to try and guarantee that Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will pitch four or five innings.
The forecast is calling for rain all day in the Sarasota area, but prospects are a little better for some sun further south on the West Coast of Florida.
So Showalter and minor league player development director Brian Graham have arranged for the Triple-A and Double-A games against the Boston Red Sox organization that were supposed to be in Sarasota to be moved to Fort Myers, Fla. And the Triple-A game will start at 11 a.m.
That should allow Jimenez to get his work in against opposing hitters before the rain really hits.
Showalter has had to juggle all kinds of assignments to make sure it will work, but his priority is getting Jimenez ready for the opening series.
I’ve covered a bunch of managers, and they all (or most) had their own strengths. But nobody studies the big picture as much as Showalter.
** Steve Clevenger was 3-for-3 on Sunday and is now 12-for-22 (.545) this spring. His main competition for the backup catching job is Johnny Monell, who is 5-for-18 (a respectable .278). But Showalter reiterated again after Sunday’s game that how well either player hits is almost incidental. Whoever backs up Matt Wieters needs to be able to show he can handle the position defensively. Both Clevenger and Monell are still working on their defensive games. It should be interesting to see if the Orioles give one of those two a shot or try to pluck a defense-mainly catcher off the waiver wire or via trade in the final two weeks of the spring.
** Ryan Webb blew a save opportunity Sunday, giving up four consecutive singles in a one-run game in the ninth inning. But it really shouldn’t have been a major point of concern. Webb is going to be a setup man and likely won’t pitch more than one inning during the season. And in his first inning Sunday, he retired the side in order. His pitches looked about as crisp as I’ve seen them down here. Webb is definitely an important member of this team; the Orioles need him to help nail down the seventh or eighth innings and pave the way for likely closer Tommy Hunter.