FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Orioles manager Dave Trembley received commitments from four of the organization's former players to work as spring instructors this year, but he knows that fans are more interested in the two icons who weren't in camp.
No Cal Ripken. No Brooks Robinson.
Reeling in two of the greatest and most important players in franchise history would be the ultimate catch for Trembley, and he broached the subject with Ripken last summer at Camden Yards.
Though Trembley would like to have Ripken in Fort Lauderdale next year, he would gladly settle for an occasional visit in Baltimore.
"I asked him, and he said if his schedule would allow it, he'd do it," Trembley said. "I told Cal I would welcome him to come out to Camden Yards anytime, to come in the clubhouse, to hang around the batting cage, to talk to players. And his response to me was, 'Thank you,' and 'No one has ever asked me to do that before.' "
Ripken seems receptive to the idea of lending a hand if his business ventures don't overlap with any available dates.
"I believe that history and tradition is such a vital part of baseball, and teams with a rich history like the Orioles are doing the right thing by utilizing former players," Ripken said.
"If the Orioles approached me about helping out, I would be happy to discuss ideas with [team president] Andy MacPhail or Dave and see if there was a fit for everyone. In this phase of my life, I've kept a very busy schedule. However, if the Orioles saw a value in me for some of their younger ballplayers, I would be happy to speak with them."
The chances of Robinson becoming involved aren't nearly as promising.
Robinson spends one day each spring at the Orioles' fantasy camp in Sarasota, Fla., but that's the extent of his involvement in the organization. He has met with owner Peter Angelos and executive vice president John Angelos in the past and written proposals detailing ways he could offer his services - appear at spring training and the minor league camp, entertain, sell tickets - but nothing came of it.
"I never heard from anyone, and I don't have the time now," said Robinson, part-owner of four independent baseball teams, including the newly formed Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. "My interpretation is they wanted someone there all the time, not part time. I wouldn't have any interest now, but I don't have any hard feelings."