Roberts' sore neck has no place in O's feel-good movie

February 23, 2011|Kevin Cowherd

So far things are going well for the Orioles at Camp Showalter in Sarasota, where it's sunny every day — at least metaphorically — and most of the vibes are positive.

Oh, sure, Brian Roberts gave everyone a little scare Wednesday when he missed the morning workout with a sore neck and went for X-rays.

The Orioles' second baseman probably led the league in X-rays and MRI's when his bad back sidelined him for most of last season.

So the Orioles tend to get jittery whenever he so much as coughs, never mind when he complains of soreness somewhere.

But when Roberts returned to camp, he told reporters he didn't think the neck was a big deal.

"We probably all had a stiff neck at some point in our life, right?" he said.


Except when I wake up with a stiff neck, thousands of Orioles fans don't hold their breath. And Andy MacPhail doesn't break out in a cold sweat.

Anyway, as of this writing, Roberts was getting treatment for the neck. And tell me if this sounds familiar: He wasn't sure if he'd able to work out with the rest of the team today.

"No idea," he said. "We'll just see how it feels."

Cue the music: doo-doo doo-doo ...

That's all the Orioles need, another slog by B-Rob through the Injury Twilight Zone.

But let's not think about that now — it's too depressing. Hopefully, it's just a stiff neck, nothing more, and he's running around today like a rookie.

If you're looking for the highlight of the camp thus far, it was probably the mysterious 12-minute motivational movie manager Buck Showalter showed his team.

I say "mysterious" because the Orioles are being close-mouthed about it, other than to say it contained highlights of the team's World Series wins, clips of great performances by Orioles players and even footage of a few of the team's brawls — all set to stirring pop music.

No, it wasn't exactly "The King's Speech."

But it sure got rave reviews.

"Too bad we didn't have a game last night," new third baseman Mark Reynolds said after seeing it. "Most of us were ready to roll."

"I was ready to fight [Mike] Tyson," new first baseman Derrek Lee said. "I had goose bumps. I think we're going to show that movie before Opening Day, too, and maybe after the All-Star break."

Let me say this: Any movie that makes a man ready to take on Mike Tyson, the Human Rottweiler himself, is a movie I want to see.

But I won't be seeing it anytime soon. And you won't be seeing it, either. Because it turns out the Orioles have no intention of releasing the movie to their fans.

Officially, their position is that the movie is a motivational tool for in-house consumption only.

Which is a bummer, although I'm told snippets of the movie will be shown on the Camden Yards Jumbotron at various times this season.

Another highlight of Camp Showalter, at least for me, was picking up The Baltimore Sun and seeing this headline: "Practice moved after home run balls damage fans' cars in parking lots."

Let's face it, if you saw this headline last year, you'd have thought it was about the Yankees or Red Sox or Rays camp.

But with new sluggers Vladimir Guerrero and Reynolds, among others, pounding the ball and the wind blowing out, the Orioles actually had to move batting practice to another field so that cars wouldn't end up with shattered windshields.

Oh, yeah, Camp Showalter sure is different than any O's spring training in recent memory.

In many respects, the presence of Showalter over-shadows that of any of the players, including Guerrero, the soft-spoken superstar who will DH and bat cleanup.

As he wanders from field to field with his ever-present fungo bat, watching drills and schmoozing the players, Showalter brings new meaning to the term "hands-on manager."

"He's always watching," center fielder Adam Jones told USA Today. "It's like he's got 10 eyes. He keeps you on your toes."

Always watching? Ten eyes? Yikes. It makes Showalter sound like a cross between Big Brother and a crazed stalker.

But the fact is that a meticulous, demanding manager is exactly what the Orioles need after playing in a virtual stupor for the past 13 years.

It would also help if they could stay healthy this season.

Not that I'm referring to anyone specifically, you understand.

(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.)

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