The Orioles might have suffered through the most discouraging season in the history of the Baltimore franchise, but the players on their new-look, rebuilding roster obviously are eager to start putting it behind them.
The full-squad reporting date is Sunday, but most of the 62 players on the camp roster have been in Sarasota for the past week and all but seven are here already.
The only unexcused exceptions as of Saturday afternoon were infielders Hanser Alberto, Jonathan Villar and Steve Wilkerson, and outfielder Eric Young Jr. Catcher Jesús Sucre (visa problem) and pitcher Gregory Infante (illness) remain in Venezuela with no known timetable for their arrival. Infielder Alcides Escobar signed Saturday with an invitation to spring training.
Cuban outfielder Yusiel Diaz, who was the central prospect in the deal that sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers last July, arrived in camp Saturday and spoke briefly with the media through interpreter Ramón Alarcón.
Díaz, 22, had an uneven performance during the month he spent at Double-A Bowie last season, but he’s in the mix for an outfield role and wants to take advantage of it.
“The whole purpose for me being here is to try and make the team from the very beginning, make the roster, get along my teammates, help my team,’’ he said. “That is the whole purpose of my being here.”
Though he went from a team that reached the World Series last year to a team that lost 115 games, he said he’s happy to be with a club that offers so much opportunity to a young player.
“Definitely, I see more opportunities here,’’ he said. “I’m excited about that. I’m very happy that I’m here, so I’m trying to take advantage of that opportunity and project myself better here.”
Reliever Richard Bleier, who had surgery to repair a torn lat muscle, threw his second bullpen session without problem, but the club gave him an extra day off in between just to be safe.
“We’re just going to be careful with him,’’ Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s obviously really important to our club. Everything went really well today. I stood behind him and watched him. The ball’s coming out great. Everything I’ve heard about him is that he’s on the right track. We’re going to be careful with him because of the injury last year.”
No intrasquad games scheduled
During the Buck Showalter era, the Orioles routinely preceded the start of the exhibition season with one or two intrasquad games, but Hyde said none are scheduled during the run up to next Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener.
“Not at this time,’’ Hyde said. “In the next couple days, if we feel like we have too many innings, that’s a possibility. There are so many games, so much time to look, we don’t need to force anything.”
Around the horn
The Orioles held their annual Sarasota Springfest at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday. The miniature version of FanFest allowed fans to interact with the players and featured an entertaining Q&A session with new center fielder Cedric Mullins.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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