Earl Weaver, Joe Torre pay visit to Orioles

Former O's manager, MLB executive vice president chat with Showalter, players

March 18, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — — For a couple minutes Friday afternoon, the front lobby of the Orioles' offices included the presence of two men who had combined to manage in 10 World Series and win six of them.

Hall of Famer Earl Weaver and baseball's new executive vice president, Joe Torre, were in town for separate reasons, but both spent a little time talking with current Orioles skipper Buck Showalter.

"The level of respect for them, I'm like a kid in a toy store," Showalter said. "I wish I had more time to spend with both of them."

Their presence wasn't lost on some of the current Orioles.

Pitchers Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken approached Weaver, chatted with him and each asked him to sign a baseball. Berken later circled back for Torre's autograph on another baseball.

"To have both of them in the same room is pretty awesome," Berken said.

Berken, who has been in the organization since 2006, said he's always wanted to meet Weaver.

"He's obviously one of the Orioles' greats. I always wanted to meet him, more than anything. And to have a chance to get him to sign a ball is awesome," Berken said of Weaver, who managed the Orioles to a World Championship in 1970 and AL pennants in 1969, 1971 and 1979. "I just told him it was a pleasure meeting him. I'm a big fan and I have a lot of respect for what he has done. And I got a chance to shake his hand. Pretty cool."

Weaver, 80, and his wife drove up from his home in Fort Lauderdale to have dinner Friday with some Orioles boosters. He dropped into the office to formulate a plan for Saturday, when he'll speak to the Orioles' coaching staff — at the urging of Showalter — at 11 a.m.

"I'm going to make more time tomorrow with Earl," Showalter said. "We're all looking forward to it."

Torre, 70, was here as part of his new job in charge of baseball operations for MLB. He spoke with Showalter about umpiring and some other issues as part of a regular briefing of teams. Torre replaced Showalter with the New York Yankees and won four world titles and six AL pennants.

"I don't know him that well. I have watched his work. Obviously, he did a great job with the Yankees," Torre said of Showalter. "I don't care what line of business you are in. People still like to know where they are heading. And Buck does a good job of staying the course, so to speak. And having people understand what the goals are."

Weaver on Showalter

Weaver, the winningest manager in Orioles history, said he's been impressed with Showalter since he took over a moribund team and led them to a 34-23 record.

"He did a heck of a job the second half of last season when he got here. I hope it continues," Weaver said. "He is a good manager. It's proven. He is going to make people do what they are supposed to do. I know he is going to do that. I talked to him just a little bit and he told me some of the things that he thought he straightened out when he got here, and evidently they worked because the record shows it."

Showalter, in turn, had significant praise for Weaver.

"He will say [his success was because of] good players, but you always had the feeling he could take his [club] and beat yours, and take yours and beat his," Showalter said. "But as much as you heard about the three-run homer, he knew how important pitching and defense were. That was really one of the cornerstones of all those clubs. I always admired them from afar because of those two facets."

Weaver said the first thing he does every morning during the season is read the newspaper to see how the Orioles fared the previous night. He also said when he watches games, he often looks at Showalter and muses how much he resembles Weaver when he managed.

"I thought that might have been me sitting over there," Weaver joked. "You couldn't tell."

Training room update

Derrek Lee (wrist) took live batting practice Friday on the main field and said it went "really good." Showalter said if Lee comes to the park feeling good Saturday, he will make his spring Orioles debut, and likely will bat two or three times.

Brian Roberts (back) took batting practice on a back field Friday and also participated in defensive drills. He said he assumes he'll continue to do drills for "a few more days."

Koji Uehara (right elbow) will throw again Saturday and the Orioles will then decide if he's ready to return to game action. He hasn't pitched since the exhibition opener Feb. 28.

Catcher Craig Tatum (right side) has resumed baseball activities. He had been shut down since Sunday with a tweaked muscle.

Duchscherer hopes he'll be ready

Right-hander Justin Duchscherer, who has pitched just two innings this spring because of soreness in his surgically repaired left hip, threw off flat ground from 120 to 130 feet on Friday.

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