Hello again from sunny Maricopa, Ariz. Still not a single snowflake in sight. But residents here have their own issues. It hasn't rained in about four months. Even the cactuses look thirsty. Only humorists with a dry wit are allowed to live here.
I'll be dining with my lovely daughter tonight as part of her 13th birthday celebration. She requested the Rainforest Café at Arizona Mills mall. Maybe it's just the "rain" part that appealed to her. Anyway, she mentioned something about a chocolate volcano for dessert. Why do I fear another eruption around 2 a.m.?
I asked readers to submit any spring training requests, on subjects or competitions that most interest them. David S. writes: "Could you keep us up to date on the middle relievers...particularly any lefthanders that look good during spring training?" If manager Sam Perlozzo wants a third lefty to join Tim Byrdak and Eric DuBose, the battle should come down non-roster invitees Vic Darensbourg and John Halama. Darensbourg was 1-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 22 games with the Detroit Tigers. Halama, also an eight-year veteran, was 1-4 with a 5.68 ERA in 40 games between the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals.
If they're both lights-out, perhaps DuBose gets squeezed out of the picture. DuBose had a rough spring in 2005. He spent more time worrying about his DUI than his ERA. He did provide the best line of the spring, however. When a police officer asked him to recite the alphabet as part of the field sobriety test, DuBose replied: "I'm from Alabama. The alphabet's different there." When he threw poorly in his next outing, I wrote: "The strike zone must be different in Alabama, too." Hey, why should he supply all the jokes?
Another reader only cares that Brian Roberts has recovered from elbow surgery. "If that doesn't happen," he wrote, "then last place is assured." Roberts will have our full attention. Chris Gomez will take plenty of ground balls at second, just to be safe. And the Orioles will trot out Eddy Garabito, Desi Relaford, Luis Lopez and a bunch of other security blankets - which should come in handy with the chilly temperatures in Fort Lauderdale.
Rob D. writes: "I may live in Southern California, but I still expect some poetic waxing about the joys of spring from you and the rest of the Sun staff. Hope springs eternal, that kind of crap. Please help me forget that the NHL actually exists and that the Terps are looking blase." Trust me, Rob, if you want crap, I'm just the man to give it to you.
And finally, one reader just wants daily updates on whether Anna Benson has christened the media work room. And to think I was going to stake out the outdoor batting cage.