Sarasota and WNST: A great week of radio, fun and baseball

February 28, 2011 | Drew Forrester

The stars just keep coming out in Sarasota.

Today, I had the chance to visit with Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters, as neither of them are making the trip to Lakeland for the 1:05 pm thriller with the Tigers.  Markakis and I spent a few minutes chatting about his foundation and what his batting order preference is in 2011.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJD3DlcM4Ec[/youtube]

We also got up with Mikc Gonzalez and rookie Zach Britton, who stared down Ryan Howard in Clearwater on Wednesday in his spring training debut.

It’s been an enjoyable week here in Sarasota.  It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that being welcomed in by the Orioles PR staff and moving around freely in the locker room has made our stay productive and fun.  We literally haven’t encountered ONE player who wasn’t cooperative — and except for a snafu when we first arrived on Monday morning, there hasn’t been an issue or a hiccup with any member of the team’s staff.  We even spent 15 minutes with Andy MacPhail on Wednesday.

I’m actually disappointed to be leaving on Sunday.  Then again, 80 degrees and sunny every day always makes it tough to leave.  I’ll take in tomorrow’s 1:05 pm home game as a fan.  Maybe Ethan can get a few autographs or even a baseball.  He brought his Junior Orioles hat and ID lanyard on the trip.  I’m hoping that gets him some brownie points.

We’ll do our wrap-up show from Sarasota today from 2-6 pm at Bacalao.  I’m sure we’ll spend plenty of time talking NFL labor stuff, but there will be plenty of Orioles interviews and inning-by-inning updates of today’s game in Lakeland vs. the Tigers.

9:00 am, Thursday, 3/3 update from Sarasota:

Jeremy Guthrie took a look around the locker room this morning – packed to the gills with reporters – and said, jokingly, “Yeah, yeah, the Orioles are 3-0 and all the sudden everyone wants to talk with us.”

He was joking around.  Well, not about the 3-0 start.  The battlin’ Birds ARE 3-0.  But no one is coming out of the woodwork to cover these Orioles except for the folks in Baltimore who are already down here.

Still, you can sense a bubbling sense of enthusiasm from Buck’s troops, even if it’s only spring training and even if the lineup from the opposing is littered with players who won’t make the team.

Buck wants accountability, and as Guthrie told me today, that means trying to win every single game, even the ones in March.

Jake Arrieta MIGHT be the team’s home opener starting pitcher.  I chatted with him about that this morning and you’ll be able to hear that interview at WNST.net today and see the video account via WNSTv on our website.

And we also caught up with Brian Roberts, who was sporting a pretty cool t-shirt in his corner of the locker room.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj97HwLVAFc[/youtube]

The Birds and Twins get it on today at 1:05 pm here in Sarasota.

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11:00 am, Wednesday, 3/2 update from Sarasota:

I just had a 20-minute sitdown with Andy MacPhail prior to his departure for Clearwater where the Orioles take on the Phillies this afternoon.  We covered a lot of ground, I think, including his hiring of Buck Showalter, the team’s pursuit of free-agent “bats” in the off-season, Ken Rosenthal’s analysis yesterday that the Orioles farm system is hurting and MacPhail’s future in Baltimore.

The entire interview will air today at 4:10 pm as Glenn Clark and I handle the 2-6 pm duties on “The Afternoon Drive”.  The video portion of the interview will be available shortly at WNST.net.

It’s been a great Wednesday so far for us.  In fact, it’s been a meaningful three days here in Sarasota, as we’ve talked to about 15 players and the team’s VP of Baseball Operations.

It’s nice to be treated kindly by members of the Orioles organization.

It makes you want to be around them more.

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9:00 am, Wednesday, 3/2 update from Sarasota:

Ahhhhhhh…the sun is out, the Florida sky is blue, it’s 80 degrees and the Orioles are undefeated.

What else could you want?  Well, I guess you could want that weather in Baltimore and you could ask for the Ravens to beat the Steelers when it matters.

But for now, the Orioles are being asked to carry the torch for Baltimore sports fans and if the first three days of this week are in any indication, things are going just fine for Buck Showalter’s team in Sarasota.

There’s an evident feeling of confidence and enthusiasm in the orange locker room, thanks in part to a ball-mashing 12-6 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday in the grapefruit league home opener at Ed Smith Stadium.  You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t feeling just a bit giddy about the way this has all started, even though most of the veterans are quick to point out “it’s still only spring training”.

Glenn and I buzzed around the locker room this morning and chatted with 8 players, including the great Jake Fox, who hit a home run on Tuesday and was more than happy to visit with us, especially since he wasn’t hopping on the bus for the 75 mile trip to Clearwater to take part in today’s 1:05 pm matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies.

We also had the chance to catch up with Luke Scott and shoot a video interview with him.

Be sure and tune in to the 2-6pm “Afternoon Drive” show today as Glenn and I broadcast from Bacalao restaurant in Sarasota.  We’ll have all the player interviews from today’s locker room session and videos will go up throughout the day at WNST.net (click the WNSTv link).

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9:00 am, Tuesday, 3/1 update from Sarasota:

Fresh off their 6-4 win over the Pirates in yesterday’s Grapefruit League opener, the Orioles reported back to their Ed Smith Stadium training facility in good spirits early this morning.

Almost all of the players were awake when the media wandered in around 8 am today.

Glenn Clark and I had the chance to visit with a few of the players this morning and we’ll post video accounts of it all throughout the day today.  Brendan Harris has his name on his glove.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Brendan said it’s only cool when you have your name on a glove and it’s for sale in a sporting goods store.  You see…what do I know?

Here it is…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fr1jAKZvKtU[/youtube]

We also spoke with Josh Bell, Nolan Reimold and Jim Johnson.  Two of those three were actually awake.  You’ll figure it out for yourself later on when you see all the videos.  Honestly?  If I’m a baseball player and I get in to work at 8:00 am and some dude wants to talk to me about hitting a home run in a game that doesn’t matter, I might not be that excited either.

The Tampa Bay Rays come buzzing into Sarasota today for a 1:05 pm showdown with ‘dem O’s.  We’ll be hovering around throughout the morning and early afternoon until we head to the Bacalao restaurant shortly before 2pm to set up for our afternoon broadcast live from Sarasota.

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12 noon, Monday, 2/28 update from Sarasota:

So we were able to spend a few minutes with Buck Showalter this morning, just Glenn Clark and I.

He was watching his pitchers play long catch and looking rather David Duval’ish with his Oakley sunglasses and a half-a-scowl on his face, even though it was 80 degrees and baseballs were in the air.

We had a 2-minute discussion with the skipper and it included a gem of a quote, one that he’s used rather frequently over the last two months.

“We’re not gonna run our mouth,” Buck said.  ”We’re just gonna lay in the weeds and surprise some people.”

Well, there’s only two ways to do it, I suppose.

You can do what Brian Billick suggested a decade or so ago.  You can go in, kick the door down, and chase after your rivals like a madman.

Or you can keep quiet and strike like a snake when no one thinks you’re there.

Buck likes the snake approach.

And I guess when you’ve lost for 13 years in a row, going in like a bull in a china shop and creating havoc is probably not going to frighten many people.

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Cue the U2 CD and the song, “It’s a Beautiful Day”.

Welcome to Sarasota.

Beautiful Sarasota, that is.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i78HLjeCPUY[/youtube]

The Orioles start their spring training schedule today with a 1:05 pm game in Bradenton against the Pirates.  Don’t get all down in the dumps if they drop the opener…the games don’t actually count yet.

Glenn Clark and I will be here all week – or as long as they’ll have us…and you know how THAT goes – covering Orioles spring training and doing the 2-6 pm show live from Bacalao, a drinking and eating establishment about 100 yards behind the left field wall at Ed Smith Stadium.  Our weeklong coverage of Orioles spring training from Sarasota is brought to you by the 136th running of The Preakness, set to be run on May 21st from beautiful Pimlico.

Yes, the station that supposedly “hates the team” is here…covering the team.

We did have a credential snafu this morning, but it really WASN’T the team’s fault, per-se.  It was the fault of the temporary club staffer at the front desk who gave a half-hearted effort in an attempt to locate our credentials when Glenn and I showed up around 7:55 am.  As soon as the real team PR representative showed up, all went well and the whole process took roughly two minutes.  The part-timer, who was barely breathing in the 45 minutes that we waited, offered a sincere “thanks for waiting” as we exited the building after getting our credentials and parking pass.  So we got that going for us…

Those players in the lineup today at Bradenton are departing via bus at 9:30 am this morning.  The others will hang around and work-out and we’ll hopefully have some sound and video with a few of the players later on today.

We’re going to venture over to Bacalao soon and set up for the show.

We’ll check back immediately if someone tears their ACL or feels a pop in their elbow.

No news is good news.

And be sure and follow us on Twitter (@WNST) as we offer quick hits from Sarasota with pictures and all that jazzy stuff that the world-wide web affords us.

If you have any SPF 30, send it down here.

It’s a scorcher today.

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