Notes: Trembley getting team ready
Manager wants to change club's mindset into a winning one
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles ticked away the last few hours before the start of their Spring Training camp on Wednesday, allowing one day for the players to settle in before workouts and drills began. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley met the media in a quiet clubhouse, articulating his goals for the spring season and beyond.
"It goes above and beyond what you could imagine," he said, speaking of his first spring camp as a big league manager. "It's an opportunity that very few people get. I think what goes along with it is a tremendous amount of responsibility. I'm aware of that. I understand it. There's certainly a huge task at hand, but I'm looking forward to it."
The Orioles will head into the 2008 season with a new roster core and a new philosophy, and Trembley thinks it's his job to mesh the new direction with the players charged with taking it. He spoke at length Wednesday about changing the dynamic and subtly washing away the mindset that has resulted in 10 straight losing seasons for Baltimore.
"It's my job to make sure that point gets across to everybody," he said Wednesday. "I'd expect that the veteran guys that are here to understand their place and their purpose. They're here to help and to lead by example. ... It's my job to make sure that other stuff doesn't happen here. I can affect people's attitudes, and that's what I'll try to do."
Trembley kicked off the Spring Training camp with a staff meeting for the Major League coaches on Tuesday night and expected to have a full organizational meeting on Wednesday. Then, his camp gets under way for real Thursday, when his pitchers and catchers will take physical examinations in the morning and conduct a practice in the afternoon.
The workout session will likely begin with a small speech, but Trembley said he'll save the larger motivational message for when his position players arrive next week. For now, he just wants to make the young players comfortable in camp and to get everybody on the same page, as far as his expectations and the team's ultimate goals.
"I think it would be good to never underestimate what you can do with hard work," he said. "Never underestimate what you can get out of doing things right. We're here to establish a foundation. We're here to get things headed in the right direction. It will be a process. It's not going to happen overnight. ... We'll be patient and persistent and we'll get it done."
Sightings: Baltimore's clubhouse was largely barren on Wednesday, but four big league veterans were present. Designated hitter Aubrey Huff -- sporting a bleached-blonde crew cut -- was doing some workout exercises early, and Ramon Hernandez, Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Burres arrived in the afternoon to unpack their bags.
Hernandez, who appeared to be markedly lighter than last season, spoke of the changes surrounding the roster.
"Maybe the changes with these young kids might do the job," he said. "I was in Oakland and we were trying to rebuild and the team started winning. You never know what's going to happen with these young guys. Young guys sometimes bring more energy. They come out and play hard. It could come around and be a good thing."
Guthrie, who has a chance at starting on Opening Day, said the team may have been affected, but that the individual players still have to approach their jobs exactly the same.
"I don't think the focus changed for any player," he said. "I don't think anyone's going to try to hit any better or pitch any better than they did last year. It will be a team effort. If we're going to succeed this year and win some games, it's going to have to be as a team. We really have to jell together, and I think that's something we're capable of doing."
Progress reports: Guthrie, who came into Spring Training without a job last season, said he's trying to keep the same mindset as he did last year. If he does, he said, he'll have a much better chance at preparing himself for the season. For now, though, he's struck by the contrast between his status last year and the way he'll begin camp in 2008.
"I was thinking about that last night, reflecting on it," he said. "It's obviously a huge difference, a huge change and a great blessing to see that progress. I told someone that my focus will still be the same as last year, because that helped me pitch better and prepared me for the season. I think that's the important thing -- to have that urgency to work hard."
Guthrie said that he doesn't necessarily see himself as a leader, but that he knows someone on the staff has to assume that role and gain his teammates' trust. Hopefully, he said, multiple people will step up and learn to feed off each other.
"There are less veterans this year, but I think we still have a good crew of leadership," he said of the pitching staff, which lost several veterans from last season. "I think everybody will learn together and grow together. It will be kind of a neat thing to see if whoever comes out of the rotation can be together for a number of years."
Hernandez, who spent two separate stints on the disabled list and never really got untracked last season, said he's hoping to rebound in 2008. That effort starts with his health, he said, and should allow him more margin for error.
"It was tough, especially when you're hurt and the team is losing," he said of last season. "It would be easier if you got hurt and the team was winning. ... It makes you miserable, but those are things you go through. I think that's when you learn how tough you are and how tough you have to be. It taught me to stay strong in my mind."
Odds and ends: Outfielder Chris Roberson, who was designated for assigment last week, cleared waivers Wednesday and will be outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles also announced that Burres and Adam Jones signed contracts for the '08 season and that Minor League catcher Ryan Hubele has elected to retire.
Trembley said that injured relievers Chris Ray and Danys Baez will be around this spring, working on their respective rehabilitations. He also said that Fernando Cabrera had "some kind of procedure" done to his right elbow this winter and will need to be examined by team physicians before he's allowed to participate in any routine drills.
Coming up: The Orioles will stage physical examinations on Thursday morning and will hold a workout in the afternoon. Health permitting, all of the team's pitchers and catchers are expected to participate.
Quotable: "It won't take me long to get to know their names. That's what I'm doing right now. Obviously, we'll learn a great deal through observation and communication and feedback from the other coaches. But it's an exciting time for me, for our organization and for fans in general. It's Spring Training." -- Trembley on getting to know his new players
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.