Showalter keeping an open mind about Aceves
Manager aware righty's had 'bumps in road,' cites O's strong clubhouse
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Pitcher Alfredo Aceves and catcher Johnny Monell were late arrivals due to weather issues, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he wouldn't count the tardiness against them.
The pair, who both arrived Sunday and are competing for roster spots, both played winter ball and are pretty much in "game shape." While Monell is competing primarily with Steve Clevenger to back up catcher Matt Wieters, Aceves is a bullpen option and the O's are giving the fiery right-hander a fresh slate.
"I've learned through the years I make up my own mind about people," Showalter said when asked about Aceves, who has had well-documented run-ins with teammates and managers. "Some people are a product of their environment. I'm pretty confident about our environment. "It's very obvious, [pitching coach] Dave [Wallace] and I were talking [Sunday] whether it be PFPs and drills and this and that, when he gets on the mound and puts a baseball in his hand and he's pitching, you see why he has been in demand. He had a number of offers and he came here."
There are a lot of players in camp who have played with Aceves, who has a good chance to make the club as a non-roster invitee. Showalter said he made a favorable impression in an early meeting and that it's a tough balancing act to trust the solid clubhouse environment as well as protect it.
"That's the weighing," he said. "Protective of it, but you're confident of it. Peer pressure is pretty good. My barometer of players is, if they don't care what their teammates think, you've got a problem. That's usually the indicator. But until you've walked a mile in a man's shoes and been in some of his recent environments …
"There have been some good baseball people who have had this guy who have had some bumps in the road. I'm not blind to that. I'm not any smarter than they are, but I'm real confident that, if it's there, we can find it."
Gonzalez hopes to get back on mound in few days
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez did not participate in the team's charity golf tournament, but he did play catch Monday as the right-hander cautiously progresses back toward the mound.
"It all depends on how it really feels," said Gonzalez, who left Saturday's workout early with back spasms while covering the first-base bag. "There's no rush."
Gonzalez was hopeful he'd be back on the mound in the next couple of days and isn't worried about being behind.
"It's just a spasm is all, nothing to worry about," he said. "I have about five [bullpen sessions already]. So, pretty good. I've been throwing all my pitches, so I'm not worried about skipping a day or two."
Designated hitter position remains unsettled
SARASOTA, Fla. -- One of the Orioles' holes this season is the designated hitter position, and while there's no front-runner, manager Buck Showalter isn't necessarily penciling that spot in to be a platoon.
"I'm not going to start telling somebody they can't do something," he said. "You always try to create a role where everybody knows, 'OK, in this situation, this is where I'm going to be asked to contribute.' That's one reason why it kind of works out that way with a lot of places.
"For instance, Delmon Young. This guy has hit left and right-handed pitchers. You go right down the board, if you look at Henry Urrutia's numbers in the Minor Leagues. Steve Pearce. We've got seven or eight of them we are considering… I wouldn't say going into it we've already made that decision. We'll see. We got some guys with a track record of hitting both of them."
There's also the possibility the Orioles add a DH, possibly free agent Kendrys Morales, or a late-spring trade.
"It's one thing to have the ability to acquire players during the offseason, monetarily or whatever, but it's also a big feather in your hat to have the ability to do it later in the spring," Showalter said. "Because what happens when you get down in this area here [late March], a lot of people are seeing what their club looks like and they realize they have some excess.[I] can't tell you how many times over the years, not just here, there's been somebody like that available, but it didn't fit into your payroll. So there's always an advantage to having some flexibility with that."
The Orioles' payroll could be around $100 million, meaning there's money available to add another player or two before Opening Day.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.