Ohlman's vow kept him safe in auto accident

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Ever since that fateful call last Christmas, Orioles catcher Michael Ohlman has religiously buckled his seat belt every time he's in the car.

You see, Ohlman lost a pair of friends in Brett Wagner and Josh Rogers, Lakewood Ranch High School seniors who were involved in an accident in which they were both thrown from a truck, and neither were buckled in.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ohlman's vow kept him safe in a scary situation. The 21-year-old was on his way to the mall after a workout at the team's spring facility when he was cut off by another vehicle that didn't see him, flipping his truck completely over in the process. Ohlman, wearing his seat belt, remained conscious and was able to crawl out of the truck, which landed on its roof.

"It was very scary," said Ohlman, who wears a pair of bracelets on his right wrist to pay tribute to his friends with the inscription reading "forever our light." The green one is for Brett, his favorite color. The orange is for Josh.

"I always wear them," Ohlman said. "And I remember to buckle up."

While Ohlman was shaken up following Tuesday's accident, he was in relatively good spirits on Wednesday. He reported some right-shoulder discomfort and was scheduled to get an MRI later, but otherwise was in good health.

A local product selected by the Orioles in the 11th-round of the 2009 Draft, Ohlman was called over to big league camp (without an official invite) because of the team's wealth of pitchers and catcher Ronnie Paulino's failure to report. Ohlman said he is trying to make the most of the opportunity, as long as it lasts.

"The last couple weeks that I've been here, [I'm] just kind of trying to take everything in and learn as much as I can," he said. "Pick Matt [Wieters'] brain as much as I can and try to learn a lot from the older guys who know more than I do."

Roberts still progressing on day by day basis

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts remains on a day by day progression and said Wednesday he's having more good days than bad, although he's still not certain if he will be able to get into a Spring Training game.

Roberts, who hasn't played in a Major League game since May due to concussion symptoms, has been taking infield work with instructor Mike Bordick for about a week and has also been taking batting practice against coaches.

Asked if the next logical step in his program would be to take live batting practice, Roberts didn't think so.

"I'm not hitting off of our pitchers," Roberts said. "Even when I was healthy, I didn't hit off live pitchers before I hit in games. I never liked doing that anyway, so we will see what the next step is when we get there."

Roberts has been working with special assistant Brady Anderson, running sprints and doing conditioning. His program is systematic, meaning Roberts has a plan instructed by his doctor that he follows every day. He said Wednesday morning he is finally getting his legs under him, and he's getting a "little more explosive and a little more energetic" in his movements.

Asked if there was a feeling of restlessness given his affinity for working out, Roberts said: "Of course. I'd love to be out there from Day 1 doing everything and having no restrictions, of course. There's times when it drives you nuts, but it is what it is at this point."

Roberts has been more of a regular fixture in the team's clubhouse as of late, laughing and joking with some of his teammates as he tries to remain in good spirits.

"Yeah, definitely [I am feeling] better than I was four months ago, so that's good," Roberts said of his progression. "It's never as fast as you want, but we're getting there."

Wagner has trial run for O's PA job

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Ryan Wagner wasn't nervous so much as excited to be in the booth and let his voice envelop the cheerful crowd on hand to take in the Orioles-Twins game Wednesday afternoon.

Chosen from an applicant pool of 670 people, Wagner, who was named the new voice of Orioles Park earlier this spring, was on hand for a one-game rehearsal that will actually be harder than his job description at Camden Yards, given the team's wealth of extra players in camp.

Still, the lifelong Orioles fan wasn't fazed. It would take a lot to overwhelm Wagner, who last season watched all 2,429 regular-season games in the MLB Fan Cave in New York.

"It's been a whirlwind," Wagner said. "It's been a remarkable couple of years for me. Even beyond the fan cave ... this is a brand new dream. I'm running out of things to do. I don't know how I'm going to one-up this one. It's been a great ride. I'm just trying to hold on. Eventually, something's going to go terribly wrong."

But it was relatively smooth sailing on Wednesday for Wagner, who graciously reintroduced Orioles outfielder Xavier Avery in the seventh inning after a minor flub.

The Orioles' Opening Day game on April 6 will mark Wagner's first appearance at Camden Yards since September 2010. An actor by trade, he performed as the Cowardly Lion understudy in a 2009-11 national tour of "The Wizard of Oz." He was selected last spring to be wingman for Mike O'Hara in the new Fan Cave at 4th Street and Broadway in Greenwich Village, so he didn't have time to go to a Baltimore home game.

Wagner was sent to Phoenix for All-Star Week and then traveled to each postseason series right through the World Series clincher, but otherwise he was holed up watching games.

Now, he will welcome Orioles fans to their famed ballpark in its 20th anniversary season. Asked if he had any plans for a signature salute, Wagner said that's something that will be determined by the moment.

"Catch phrases kind of have to come organically," Wagner said. "You can't go in with one. Looking back at Rex Barney's 'Thank You,' he did it by accident first time, and went home and somebody said he sounded really good and he kept doing it. So, I think if I came in with something in my pocket already, it would never stick and people right away would know it wasn't real. Maybe, if I'm here long enough, maybe I'll come up with a catch phrase."

Tidbits

• Tsuyoshi Wada (left-elbow inflammation) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Wednesday morning with no reported problems. Wada, who warmed up with some long toss, also threw off the half-mound on Tuesday and pitching coach Rick Adair said it was encouraging to see him recover quickly after throwing consecutive days. He will be reevaluated on Thursday before the team decides the next step.

• Willie Eyre (groin) also threw a bullpen session on Wednesday morning and is tentatively scheduled to throw in Sunday's "B" game.

• For the second consecutive year, Sarasota County Public Libraries and the Baltimore Orioles have teamed up to promote reading through the Orioles Big League Reader program. Children ages 6 and over who signed up for the program and read three or more books in the month of February received a complimentary reserved grandstand ticket to the March 14 game.