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Bird watching

Orioles veterans familiar with rites of spring

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Tuesday February 20, 2001 12:43 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 20, 2001 12:48 PM

 

Throughout spring training, CNNSI.com will feature regular dispatches from Sports Illustrated staffers assigned to scout camps in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues.

By Jeff Pearlman, Sports Illustrated

TEAM: Baltimore Orioles

SITE: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

WEATHER: Gray skies and scattered showers, low 70s

PLAYER I SAW WHOM I REALLY LIKED: Jerry Hairston. Baltimore's new second baseman is everything the slumbering Orioles have lacked for the past three years: He's young (24), he's a legit prospect and (gasp!) he's thrilled to be here. Unlike a couple of his veteran teammates, who dive for cover when reporters come around, Hairston is honest and eager. He's like a little kid trapped at an AARP convention.

AROUND THE HORN

Today was physical day at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, which means lots of shots. Shots, more shots and body-fat tests. When a doctor clamped his tummy for a fat check, Albert Belle giggled. Seriously, he giggled. No, really. He giggled. Hee hee.

Delino DeShields, who is moving from second base to the outfield this season, caught much grief for the thick black worm that that has grown under his nose. As teammates walked by, they reached to give it a quick stroke (Scott Erickson, was named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People In The World for the year 2000, will likely relinquish his title thanks to a new bushy goatee that consumes a good portion of his face). Like DeShields, Cal Ripken Jr. made his first appearance of the spring, roaming the clubhouse, shaking the hand of new teammate David Segui, patting Brook Fordyce on the shoulder. For five minutes, he was followed around by a TV camera which caught some of the most useless footage this side of Chips '99. Brady Anderson, entering his 14th season with the O's, reflected on the motions that are spring training: "I was telling someone it's like Groundhog Day," he said. "Every spring, you have the same rituals, the same activities, the same..."

Anderson paused for a moment, thoughtful-like. "But you know," he said. "They say it's not just like that in baseball. It's everybody's life."

Journalist's perspective: True, that.

The thing about Fort Lauderdale: it sorta stinks. The stadium is located in the middle of nowhere (the nearest teams are the Expos and Cardinals, located 90 minutes up the road in Jupiter). Although I could wax poetic about coming here as a boy in the early 1980s to watch the Yankees with Grandma and Grandpa Pearlman, that was 20 years ago. It's an old stadium with no perks.

One sad note. Outside the door of the team's offices, there's a poster promoting "Joe DiMaggio Legends Game," a charity event that took place on Feb. 10 at the stadium. A ton of players -- from Whitey Ford to Rick Cerone, from Al Hrabosky to Paul Blair -- were listed. The first name: Tommie Agee, who died in January.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Jeff Pearlman will check in periodically with reports from his tour of spring camps.

 
Related information
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CNNSI.com's Orioles spring training preview
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