Russell is inspired by the fight his sister has shown through everything.

"I'm sure that she's been there for me much more than I've been there for her, so I could never repay her back for everything she's done for me," he said. "Those kids are just a treat. It's been great. … They've been great. You just try to keep everything as normal as possible for them, because once they start getting older and start understanding what's going on, it's going to be difficult for them."

Tracy continues so be treated by medication. She gets scans every three months to make sure she still has no evidence of disease. Despite his prognosis, Marty looks and feels normal and still has plenty of strength.

Tracy says they also get strength from Russell and his baseball career.

"We've always been so proud of Adam, and watching him is such a joy," she said. "We all get such a kick out of it. Following him and his career is such a wonderful distraction. I think there are so many things on our life that drive us, but to have baseball, it's such a big thing for our family. It gives us something to look forward to when we need something else to focus on."

"A shared dream"

Meanwhile, Russell is focused on earning a roster spot. There are 29 pitchers in camp this season, and the Orioles bullpen returns entirely intact, so breaking through will be difficult.

"Baseball has always been a shared dream throughout my family," Russell said. "It's not just me; I'm doing this for them too. It seems like when baseball's right, everything's right in the world. My focus is here. I'm there for my family whenever they need me.

"They know that, and I don't feel guilt being down here that I'm not up there to watch the kids or anything. We've just got a really strong family, so I know that coming down here, I don't have to feel sorry that I'm here. My focus is here. That's where my family wants my focus, so that's what it's going to be."

Russell — who has made 85 career major league appearances in stints with the Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays — spent all of last season in Triple-A with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels. He hopes going back to throwing sidearm, a move he credits with helping him get to the big leagues back in 2008, will be the difference in getting back to the majors. Because he can throw a power fastball, teams have discouraged him from throwing unconventionally in the past. He could pitch both sidearm and over the top for the Orioles, something he hopes will keep batters off balance.

On Saturday, Russell is slated to pitch an inning in the Orioles' Grapefruit League opener against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium, and he's focused on making an impression.

"Obviously, he's a strong willed guy with what's going on with him personally," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We're just trying to create a good environment for him. It's kind of like a haven for him with some of the things that are going on, and you can tell he's at peace here at the ballpark."

eencina@baltsun.com

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