FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- When a player gets called into the manager's office in spring training, the news tends to be bad. Cuts are made, late arrivals are reprimanded, feelings are hurt. It's the worst time to be singled out.
Orioles manager Dave Trembley broke with tradition this week. To open up the lines of communication, he decided to go behind closed doors.
One by one, Trembley approached his veteran position players before Sunday morning's workout and ushered them into a meeting, where he laid out the travel schedule for the exhibition games and revealed the lineups he has already written.
"I told them there will be certain trips that they'll have to go on, but I'll do everything I can to be fair to everybody," Trembley said.
"There are certain courtesies that are extended to guys who have been around for a while. They've earned that respect."
And the older players on a rebuilding team, for which youth is supposedly king, are most appreciative.
"He's trying to take care of the veterans a little bit," outfielder Jay Gibbons said. "It's a long spring. Most managers do try to take care of veterans, but you don't really know what's happening in advance, like if you're going to make a road trip. He wants everybody to know what you're doing and when. And as far as focusing on rookies, it hasn't really been reflected on the field."
Said designated hitter Aubrey Huff: "It's usually been a rule on long trips that for the older guys, they don't go back there [a second time], but it's always nice to know the manager's going to do that for you. To be that upfront and open with us is great. You get so many managers who are so scared to do that, for some reason. I don't know why. It's pretty much the norm everywhere, but he went out of his way to tell us, which was great. The communication has been great so far."
As the Orioles took batting practice yesterday, rookies and nonroster players chased fly balls under a scorching late-morning sun. If you have little or no time in the majors, you're going to do most of the grunt work.
"I don't believe in special favors. Treat everybody the same. But I also believe that you've got to earn your stripes in any work force," reliever Jamie Walker said.
"The younger guys, they may have to stay a little longer and shag for outfielders or do a little extra work. But I haven't heard any [complaining]. I had to do it when I was young, so I would let them know."
"I think respect is earned," Trembley said. "When you get it, then we'll certainly try to give it. I'm a first-year manager. I have to earn their respect, as well."
He's on the right track with the players who have been around the longest.
"Dave's all about respect," said outfielder Jay Payton, who attended the meeting with Gibbons, Huff, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, Kevin Millar, Nick Markakis and Ramon Hernandez.
"He's been in the game a long time and seen a lot of things. The bottom line is, he gets it. He knows what guys appreciate and what needs to be done, and he's been really great at doing that for us this spring.
"The thing with Florida is, there are a lot of long trips. We're going to have to go on a couple, but he's like, `I'm not going to send my veterans on all of them,' as a sign of respect, and we all were really appreciative of that."
Certain concessions also will be made for players who live in this area and have family obligations.
When Hernandez recently asked permission to attend his son's school play, Trembley replied, "Just tell me when, and I'll adjust my schedule accordingly."
"I wrote more lineups last night. I'm trying to stay four days ahead," Trembley said. "The only bugaboo that throws a wrench in everything is, unfortunately, someone is hurt and can't go the next day. Then it all gets out of whack. But I'm going to tell guys before the game how much they're going to play and tell the other guys when they're going in."
The workouts under Trembley are shorter but include more drills designed to improve fundamentals - base running, pickoffs, sliding. Pitchers aren't throwing as much. Hitters do their work in the cages and are spared the excessive idle time that always brings complaints.
"He's run a great camp," Huff said. "There are so many camps where you go out there and do these fundamentals that you do in Little League and high school and you run them over and over again until you're blue in the face. It's so overdrawn. You're out there for hours on end and doing the same drill. If you do it right and you do it fast, I think you should go on to other things. And that's what he's doing. When we do things right and we're working hard at it, he's rewarding us by going on to the next thing.
"Spring training can be a long time. So is the season. But he's taking a lot of the monotony out."