04/02/2013 4:35 PM ET
McFarland's road to first opener pays off
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- As Orioles manager Buck Showalter walked up the stairs into Tropicana Field's visitors' dugout shortly before his team took batting practice on Tuesday, he couldn't help but take a look at T.J. McFarland and wonder what was on the left-hander's mind.
W: Hammel L: McGee SV: Johnson
McFarland, picked in December's Rule 5 Draft, is Baltimore's only player who had never seen a Major League Opening Day, but he made the club out of Spring Training and stood among them in St. Petersburg on Tuesday afternoon.
"And he's earned it," Showalter said. "There are a lot of teams that were going to take him in that same Draft, and we've got plenty of people that want him if we don't want him."
Third-base coach Bobby Dickerson also got to experience his first big league Opening Day on Tuesday after spending 20 years in the Minors as a manager, coach and instructor.
While the Orioles made no impact moves on the free-agent or trade markets over the offseason, this year's Opening Day roster has turned over a fair amount from the one they trotted out April 6, 2012. Seven players on this year's Opening Day roster weren't with the club that day.
That group includes McFarland, and no matter what the lefty had on his mind in those hours leading up to the start of the 2013 season, Showalter was confident all of his players would have no trouble focusing when it came time to play.
"They don't dwell on too much," Showalter said. "The most comfortable time of their day is going to be when the national anthem's over and they finally get into the environment that they're comfortable in. [Opposing starter] David Price doesn't make it too comfortable, but [it's enjoyable] just competing and playing the game and being back together and sharing the journey.
"We talked about it yesterday. This is a journey we're all getting ready to take together again. There are going to be plenty of ups and downs. Just try to make sure you're bringing a positive energy every day."
Giving O's 200 innings Chen's goal
ST. PETERSBURG -- Opening Day 2013 wasn't anything new for Wei-Yin Chen. In fact, the Taiwanese left-hander is happy to say that nothing should take him by surprise in his second season.
Chen emerged as the Orioles' most consistent starter last season, going 12-11 with a 4.02 ERA in 192 2/3 innings over 32 starts. He led Baltimore in wins, innings, games started and strikeouts (154). He's hoping to improve on those numbers this year, and he'll get his first opportunity to do so on Wednesday against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
"I feel much more comfortable this year compared to last year; last year, I was so nervous and excited," Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. "This year, everything will be a lot easier for me.
"This year, I'm excited [for the season to start], but I don't want to be over-excited, because it's my first game. I just want to follow my pitches, follow my tempo."
Chen said his main goal this year is to reach 200 innings, a feat no Orioles starter accomplished last season. Jeremy Guthrie threw 200-plus innings each season from 2009-11, but he had been Baltimore's only 200-inning pitcher since '07.
That number is certainly not out of reach for Chen, who pitched at least six innings 19 times last season and lasted seven innings or more nine times. But the lefty had eight starts that lasted five innings or fewer, and that kept him from hitting the 200-inning mark he'd like to surpass this year.
"Of course," Chen said. "I know that depends on certain pitch counts, but definitely, I want to go deeper and deeper into the game and help the team win."
• Showalter, not usually a proponent of big team meetings or speeches, gathered his club on Monday to talk about the year ahead.
"I did it yesterday before they left," Showalter said. "I said, 'Hopefully, you guys won't hear from me again.' That's what we did last year. Most of the stuff I said falls underneath Captain Obvious. I don't want to ever give them too many [obvious points]. I got it. They got it."
• Showalter wasn't worried about the Orioles' position players jumping back into the grind of playing full nine-inning games after a lengthy Spring Training schedule, during which players rarely stayed in for an entire game.
"Physically, I think everybody's looking forward to playing in a little more normal baseball environment," Showalter said. "This is what they do. They've done it since they were little boys. This is the endgame. This is why we do everything we do, to get to this point."
• Showalter said right-hander Chris Tillman, on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain, hasn't made any adjustments to his pre-start routine as he prepares to take the ball for the Orioles' game against the Twins on Saturday.
"We think he's got the physical issues behind him, so he's just getting ready to pitch that fifth game," Showalter said.