Orioles beat writer Eduardo Encina and sports columnist Peter Schmuck report from Sarasota, Fla., on the first day of spring training for pitchers and catchers.
SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles manager Buck Showalter held his first press gathering of spring training in the media workroom of the Ed Smith Stadium complex, and alluded to the fact that he could be in the same room a few days from now for a press conference to introduce a new free-agent signing.
The Orioles are still engaged in negotiations to sign right-hander Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler. Though neither has agreed to terms with the club, the Orioles were still considered the leading candidates for both as pitchers and catchers reported to Sarasota on Thursday.
"There's a chance we could be in this room again doing something else, but if we don't, that's OK, too," Showalter said. "It's not a topic of conversation out there. It really isn't. Players, coaches, it really hasn't been brought up, mostly because they know I don't know. Ignorance is bliss."
As the Orioles hold their first pitchers-and-catchers workout Friday morning, Showalter must be prepared to move forward with his existing group of players. The offseason saw the Orioles focus on re-signing their core players as the club retained first baseman Chris Davis, setup man Darren O'Day and catcher Matt Wieters.
But Showalter said he still has to keep in mind that there could be additions in the upcoming days. He said pitching coaches have put together a list of seven to nine pitchers who will be considered for rotation spots. If Gallardo is added, that would likely push up the date for when the team pares down innings.
"You don't ever look at something as a finished product," Showalter said. "It's like we're assembling people who play roles in a play, so to speak, that opens up in April, and that's ongoing. I like the things we did in bringing the people we already had here back. I think they were better than pretty much anything we could have gotten from anywhere else."
Camp crowded already: Even though the first full-squad workout isn't until Wednesday, most of the Orioles position players were at camp Thursday.
There was no formal workout Thursday, but shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Jonathan Schoop still played catch. Davis also arrived at the facility in the earlier afternoon.
Other position players who reported early included first baseman Christian Walker, infielders Ryan Flaherty and Steve Tolleson, outfielders Hyun Soo Kim, Nolan Reimold, Dariel Alvarez, Henry Urrutia, L.J. Hoes and Xavier Avery.
"Yeah, it's pretty crowded," Showalter said. "I think guys enjoy coming here. I think they like being around each other. It's a great facility. Weather's good and they know it's going to be competitive. … I'm in the weight room a little bit. It's their time. I can go out there. You can't have it organized. They set the times and we work around it. This is their time. I want them to want to come here, not think that someone is going to be looking at them or evaluating them, setting up some structured [workout]. I think that's why we get such good attendance."
Beliveau could be limited: Showalter said most pitchers are expected to be free of restrictions, but one who could be limited is left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau, who is competing for a bullpen spot as a nonroster invitee. Beliveau is returning from having labrum surgery last season.
"Beliveau is a guy we're not sure about," Showalter said. "I was talking about him. Watching him pitch, I know now why he's had success if you look at it from a hitter's standpoint. He has a different presentation. If you see the velocity, it's not, 'Wow,' but when you see the presentation … his delivery, you don't see the ball well off this guy, so I'm intrigued by him. We really want to get him out of here healthy."
Around the horn: Showalter said he was impressed with how right-hander Chris Tillman looked physically, saying he had more definition in his abdominal region. "I got a look of Tillman's stomach region," Showalter said. "[Vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson] told me to take a look at it. I ain't seen that before." … Showalter, Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman, Brian Matusz, O'Day, Wieters and Tillman are among the players expected to participate in the Birdland Golf Classic on Monday at The Founders Club in Sarasota. The event will benefit the Miracle League of Manasota.