BRADENTON, Fla. — I noticed something odd this morning as I wandered through the Pirates’ clubhouse. It was awfully quiet over by Octavio Dotel’s locker.
Dotel sat there, tugging on his warmup shirt and checking his gear. There was still more than a half hour before the daily pitchers’ meeting/video review began at 9:15 a.m. Usually, Dotel’s bouncy personality is the joie de vivre of any room he occupies. So, what gives?
“Oh, I’m going to be the loudest man on the team,” Dotel assured me. “But I’m waiting for when we get down to 25 (players).”
Even as coaches are checking out Dotel, to see what kind of pitcher he is, he is checking out the Pirates as well. He’ll get to know his teammates a bit before unleashing his charisma.
“That will happen as we get close to the season,” Dotel said, smiling.
“He’s one of those guys who can keep it loose,” manager John Russell said. “He’s fun to be around.”
Playing the past two seasons for the Chicago White Sox, Dotel got used to skipper Ozzie Guillen’s excitable style and animated conversations. It took just one team meeting for Dotel to realize Russell is much more, ahem, low-key.
“I’m not going to lie to you — I miss Ozzie’s meetings because he’s really, really, really, really funny,” Dotel said. “He’d say what he had to say, but by the end everybody would be laughing like crazy. My manager here is a little bit different. He’s really, really quiet. But the main thing is, he gets the information to the guys and tells them what is the plan.”
For more about Dotel — his dangling tongue and his dancing fastball — check out Sunday’s Trib.
— Tony Sanchez, last year’s first-round draft pick, is fitting in well in his first spring training. There are three other non-roster catchers in camp, but of that group Sanchez is the closest to the majors. “He’s really learning,” Russell said. “I think he’ll take a lot from this.”
Russell cautioned against assuming Jason Jaramillo will gain the backup catcher job by default. “It’s competition,” Russell said. “JJ did a nice job last year and that puts him in a good position. But he understands that we just can’t give it to him.”
Russell said Jaramillo still must improve his game-calling, throwing and consistency at the plate.
— Some of the loudest pops in catcher’s mitts during the morning bullpen session came on fastballs from Virgil Vasquez and Steven Jackson. Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm and Kevin Hart also were among the 14 pitchers who threw 40-45 pitch sessions.
— Aki Iwamura, Delwyn Young and Ryan Church participated in their first workouts today. Sixty of the 66 invited players are in camp, three days before the first official full-squad workout. “We had 12 or 15 (position players) here the first day, and that’s kind of unheard of,” Russell said. “They’re anxious to get started.”
— I know y’nz back in snow-covered Pittsburgh don’t feel sorry for me, but a few raindrops fell during the final half hour of today’s workouts. Rain is in the forecast for the next two days, and may affect the practice schedule.