2/24/2014 2:36 P.M. ET
Robinson impressed with Orioles' turnaround
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Hall of Famer Frank Robinson visited Orioles camp on Monday morning after being invited at the Owners' Meetings this winter by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette. Robinson was invited down last year by manager Buck Showalter and addressed the team in the clubhouse Monday morning.
Robinson, who works for Major League Baseball as executive vice president of baseball development, was sporting his orange polo and said there was no specific message in his talk.
"The one thing I tried to get across is it's a team game, not individuals," Robinson said. "If the team has success, everybody has success. If you don't, and the team doesn't play well, and you don't function well, and you wind up in seventh or eighth place, whatever, I don't care what you've done as an individual, it's not going to feel the same, it's not going to taste the same, and you're not going to be the same."
Robinson, a former World Series MVP who had his uniform number retired by the Orioles, said he doesn't keep that close of an eye on his former club because he's supposed to be neutral. But the 78-year-old has brought the orange polo back out of his closet as a way to show support.
"They've really come a long way," he said. "I told them, the last 13 years, I've had this shirt in my closet, and I didn't wear it. The last couple of years, I broke it out and wear it now because I'm very proud of what this team did.
"I'm very proud of this team. They brought back the pride in the Orioles. They brought back a lot of good times for us old timers, and it's just great to see."
Robinson said he feels like the organization has turned a corner under Duquette and Showalter and is pleased at the role some of the franchise's great players have had in recent years.
"I feel good about that," Robinson said. "I feel like they are now starting to include and reach out to players of the past -- and I like that. I'm very honored that they asked me to come here and talk to the players."
I think this ballclub is starting to realize that [importance of having guys from the past around] and do that. I talked to the Angelos' about that years ago about including the previous players from the past, to come and just be a part of this organization.
"One thing I'd like to see, maybe the next step, they bring some of the guys in as special instructors in Spring Training, just to get them around the players. Talk to them, be around them, let them see them. ... I told them, 'I saw my blood is not orange like Tommy's is blue, but I'm certainly an Oriole through and through.' This is the place I had the greatest team success and the greatest individual success of my career right here. And it wasn't just what happened on the field. It was a great relationship and feeling with the city and organization, and I was very proud of that."
Showalter welcomes rule change on collisions
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association officially negotiated the addition of Rule 7.13, which will prohibit egregious collisions at home plate, both parties announced on Monday afternoon.
"The big thing we are trying to eliminate -- and I wholeheartedly support it -- is the cheap shot collision," said manager Buck Showalter, who attended a meeting in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Sunday night to go over the rule along with instant replay. "Guy's completely exposed, doesn't have the ball and some guy hunts him. We've had it happen with Matt [Wieters] a few times. If you remember, we were real unhappy about it. I still remember the player that did it -- players.
"We are going to get that out of the game. We are not taking blocking the plate out. If a guy has the baseball, he can still take the plate. We are not going to take that play away, the way I understand it. It's just blocking the plate without the ball and a guy coming after a catcher when he's defenseless. Those two things are not going to be tolerated."
Showalter had bench coach John Russell, who is in charge of the catchers, with him at Sunday's meeting and said Wieters has been involved in a lot of the phone calls regarding the new rule. The hope is that the rule change isn't something that's visible to the average fan, with blocking of the plate still allowed and the rule just as important for the runners as those behind home.
"I have a lot of confidence Matt knows when and what is right and what puts him in harm's way," Showalter said. "He knows what he means to us."
Ubaldo settling in just fine with new ballclub
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Ubaldo Jimenez hopes to make his spring debut for the Orioles during the first week of March and is on a similar schedule to fellow newcomer Suk-min Yoon, who is tentatively slated to pitch March 6 or 7.
Jimenez will throw at least one more bullpen session before facing hitters. He said his arm feels good and he isn't worried about being behind at all. The 29-year-old Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal last week, has really enjoyed just being out on the field with new teammates after an offseason of waiting around.
"I was kind of desperate to be out there, be with a team, doing my stuff," Jimenez said Monday morning. "I'm used to every year in February be doing something. And this year everything was different, so it was hard. It was hard to be waiting so long. It feels like I'm able to breathe again. I'm able to be happy."
Jimenez played a Double-A All-Star Game with Miguel Gonzalez and was Little League teammates with Alexi Casilla. They go way back, playing together when Jimenez was 12 or 13, and he lauded Casilla for being an "unbelievable hitter" on that club. Jimenez is looking forward to getting to know the rest of the Orioles, including newcomer Nelson Cruz.
"It's going to be fun," Jimenez said. "[Cruz is] a superstar. Forget everything that happened with him, he's good.
"It is exciting as a player that you have a clubhouse full of superstars and you know you have a pretty good chance. It's never going to come easy, but we have the potential in this clubhouse to beat anyone."
Up next on the docket for Jimenez is finding a home in the Baltimore area. Part of a very close-knit family, his parents will live with him, and Jimenez -- whose sister is doing her residency in the Dominican Republic -- is already looking forward to having his niece visit Camden Yards when school is out for the summer.
"It feels good knowing I am going to be here for a while, and not have to worry about next year if I am going to have to sign with a new team," Jimenez said. "That's something I was looking for, to be able to be in one place for a long time."
Berry getting MRI on back; Matusz dealing with wart
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Quintin Berry exited Monday's workout with a back spasm, and the outfielder will get an MRI to make sure it's nothing more serious.
Berry said he hadn't dealt with the issue before and didn't seem overly worried about it being a problem. The non-roster invitee was in the Orioles' clubhouse walking around and was optimistic he would be at practice on Tuesday.
"I hope. We'll see," manager Buck Showalter said of Berry's back being a minor issue. "He went down pretty good there."
Pitcher Brian Matusz will leave the team a few days after pitching in Wednesday's intrasquad game to get a wart removed from his left index finger in Philadelphia. Matusz had the same issue in the spring of 2011 and also went to Philly. He is expected to be sidelined for at least four or five days after the procedure.
'Two Minutes with ...' focuses on Schoop
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Up next in the "Two Minutes with ..." series is infielder Jonathan Schoop, who is considered the organization's top position player prospect. Despite a back injury, Schoop rebounded well in the Minors and made his big league debut as part of September callups. The 21-year-old Curacao native is ranked the club's No. 5 overall prospect extended his season, which started in the World Baseball Classic for Team Netherlands by playing in the Arizona Fall League.
Favorite food: Wings. The honey-barbecue [flavor] at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Favorite movie: "Fast and the Furious" -- the latest one, six.
Hidden talent: Soccer. I was good. I was a forward. I stopped baseball at one point to play soccer. My first sport was always baseball, but then when I was 13 or 14, I decided I was going to play soccer and never play baseball again. My baseball coach made me change my mind. He came and got me one day in front of everybody and said, "You're going to play baseball."
If I wasn't a baseball player, I'd be: Manny Machado's bat boy. [Laughs]. An accountant.
Favorite offseason place: Home.
Prized possession: I have two baseballs, one from my first hit in the big leagues and the other from my first home run.
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.