Koji, Zaun, and getting to know one another

February 17, 2009 |

Gregg Zaun says coming back to Baltimore is like coming home for him. Zaun was brought in to provide a veteran presence behind the plate, and he will be a mentor for Matt Wieters when he is ready to play in the majors.
Zaun is a great guy for Wieters to learn from and is a guy that will have no problem allowing Wieters to take over as the everyday catcher for the Orioles when that time comes. The situation with Zaun is better than any scenario that could have played out if Ramon Hernandez remained in Baltimore.
Koji Uehara threw a bullpen session yesterday with a ton of Japanese and local media watching him. Uehara talked about working with Zaun, bunting and his goals after the session was over with. I will be excited to see how Uehara does against live hitting once the spring training games get going. Koji is trying to fit into the Orioles’ locker room, as he is trying to learn a new English word each day, while trying to teach his teammates a Japanese word each day. Koji was expected to go out to dinner with Zaun other teammates Tuesday night.
It is always interesting to see how the players interact with one another once they leave the stadium in Ft. Lauderdale. Some of them will get together and go play golf, some will make dinner plans together, and some will just hang out on the beach together.
I remember when I was at spring training a couple of years ago, Kris Benson put together a fishing trip for all of the pitchers; Kevin Millar and Leo Mazzone went and got tattoos together; and Millar once took Nick Markakis to look at motorcycles. That is a good sign when the guys want to be around each other that much and enjoy spending their off time together when there are plenty of other things to do in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami region.
It is not uncommon to be at dinner with other media members after each day at restaurants near the team hotel and see groups of teammates hanging out together. The movie theatre located across the train tracks is also a very popular spot, and again not uncommon to see several Orioles in a group going to the movies together