SARASOTA, Fla. — We're more than two weeks into spring training, the exhibition season begins today and I'm still trying to find the new Dave Trembley.
The old Dave. Teddy bear Dave. Misguided Notre Dame fan Dave. I heard that guy didn't get his contract renewed last year. The Orioles hired this new Dave guy, who is supposed to be tougher and is going to "drop the hammer" if there is any fundamental breakdown or other foolishness.
So, I've been cruising the spring clubhouse and asking some of the players if they have seen the new Dave.
"Dave is Dave," Nick Markakis said. "What you see is what you get."
Well, what I see is a guy who looks a lot like the old Dave, except that he looks a little leaner after a winter apparently shopping at Whole Foods. Whether he's both leaner and meaner is another story.
Trembley addressed this issue in a Q&A with Orioles beat reporter Jeff Zrebiec earlier this week. He denied that there was ever any intention of change in his personality, which is kind of a relief. I just saw "The Wolfman," and I'd freak out if Dave's teeth and fingernails started to grow the next time somebody misses a cutoff man.
He does, however, intend to be quicker on the trigger when something isn't being done right and more proactive when it comes to correcting problems on and off the field.
For the record, I was OK with Dave the way he was. He's an old-fashioned baseball guy who wants players to do things the right way and - I'm pretty sure - doesn't think major league players should have to be told to do the things they were taught to do at the Single-A level.
What he is not is an in-your-face manager who's going to dress players down in the dugout or embarrass them in the media.
Brian Roberts looked a little puzzled when I asked him whether he had seen the new Dave.
"No, I haven't," Roberts said. "I don't know what he could be talking about. There may be some things he does differently during the season, but we're just in the first few weeks of spring training."
Well, the spring training regimen is different this year, with additional drills, a wider array of workout stations and a greater emphasis on efficiency and organization, but that's largely because there finally is enough room to do everything good teams need to do to get ready, now that the Orioles have an adequate spring training facility.
Roberts expects Trembley to do some things differently during the regular season, but not because of any personal transformation. This will be Dave's third full season managing at this level, so it's not as if his managerial identity was fully established.
"I think he is still evolving as a major league manager," Roberts said. "It's a growing process. I'm sure he will change some things. Everybody changes the things they do a little bit."
Trembley, for instance, increased the emphasis on fundamentals early last season when the Orioles' uninspired performance and frequent mental errors called into question his effectiveness.
The team tightened up after that, and several young players began to blossom, confirming Trembley's reputation as a teacher and developer of young talent.
Not surprisingly, second-year outfielder Nolan Reimold agrees with me that the old Dave was just fine.
"I don't know how much he could be different," Reimold said. "If we get into games and guys aren't doing things the way they're supposed to, you're going to hear about it. I don't want him to be different."
Center fielder Adam Jones has noticed something, but it isn't a bigger hammer. He actually thinks that the new Dave is just getting more comfortable both in the job and in his skin.
"I think he's a little more relaxed," Jones said. "The first couple years, he seemed like he was a little tight … like somebody was looking over his shoulder. This year, he's getting more involved with the players. He's always been tough, but he's more in touch with the players."
That doesn't really sound like a new Dave, but you'll get no complaint from me. I'll settle for an old Dave with a few new tricks.
Listen to Peter Schmuck when he hosts "Sportsline" on WBAL (1090 AM), and check out "The Schmuck Stops Here" at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.