SARASOTA, Fla. — This should come as good news to everyone who thought the Orioles did not take the fundamentals of baseball seriously enough last season.
Dave Trembley agrees with you, and he made it clear Wednesday that he doesn't just take last year's early-season fundamental breakdown seriously. He also took it personally and is committed to making sure that scenario is not repeated during his tenure as manager.
"I take it real personally because I've been a guy who's made my bread and butter being a guy who has taught fundamentals and has been a teacher who has emphasized that it is a big part of the game. And I think that sometimes when you get to this level, it's not done the way you want it to get done."
That's why there are two temporary batting cages erected on one of the practice fields and all of the hitters are required to take bunting practice as a regular part of the spring training workout rotation. Players generally lay down a bunt or two at the start of batting practice, but this incorporates real coaching on bunting technique.
"I'm trying to add some things here that will be an emphasis on the team and allowing us to be in a position to win more games," Trembley explained, "and that was the little things that obviously were more prominent and might not have gotten done the way you wanted to get them done last year so let's brush up on them this year in spring training but let's also emphasize the importance of them."
Matusz named No. 5 prospect
Left-hander Brian Matusz is ranked fifth overall on Baseball America's list of the top 100 prospects of 2010, behind Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg, Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton and Yankees catcher Jesus Montero. The other Orioles on the list are power prospect Josh Bell (No. 37), pitcher Zach Britton (No.63) and Jake Arrieta (No. 99).
The Orioles are not quite as prominent as they were in 2009, but there is a good reason for that. Two of the three players ranked in last year's top 25 -- No. 1 Matt Wieters and No. 22 Chris Tillman -- are no longer eligible because they have crossed the rookie threshold.
The list, which was released on Tuesday, does not include O's first base prospect Brandon Snyder or 2009 top draft choice Matt Hobgood.
Tillman, Bergesen improve
Starting pitchers Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen were upbeat today about settling into a regular spring training routine. Tillman threw a side session Wednesday and said his stiff back felt fine. Bergesen also felt good after a flat ground session Tuesday and could test his sore shoulder from a mound on Saturday.
"Very positive," Tillman said. "I felt good. I think the trainers will clear me to throw live BP on Friday."
The Orioles probably can't take anything for granted with Bergesen's injury until he throws live batting practice without discomfort. That could happen next week if all goes well.
Tejada: The third man
Miguel Tejada was on the field very early on Wednesday to begin working one-on-one with infield coach Juan Samuel on the finer points of playing third base. Tejada has said from the start that he believes the toughest adjustment for him during the transition from shortstop will be charging the bunt, so he'll probably be spending a lot of time on that in addition to the regular infield work with the rest of the team.