Orioles weary travelers early on this spring

Orioles weary travelers early on this spring

DUNEDIN, Fla -- Gas is cheap right now, which is a good thing for the Orioles.

Through the first four days of Grapefruit League action, Baltimore has had to travel from Sarasota, Fla., three times -- to Orlando (Braves), Port Charlotte (Rays) and Dunedin (Blue Jays) -- with a split-squad game lingering on the schedule Saturday.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the biggest challenge has been organizing which personnel goes where.

"You have 59 players, and when you count coaches, close to 70 people you're trying to send different directions," Showalter said. "The whole idea for us is to have our schedule right for the end of spring."

The end of the spring looks to be in Baltimore's favor.

Six of the final nine games will be at home, including two night games at Ed Smith Stadium, allowing players to get into a routine that more resembles the regular season. One of the three road games is in nearby Bradenton, also at night.

"You kind of have to wear it early in order to get it right late, which is the most important time," Showalter said. "When we get through Sunday, we'll be in a decent routine then. It's tough, but we're easy on them."

If there is a silver lining to the tough early slate, it's that the non-roster invitees are being given a greater look as regulars are less likely to travel. Combined with Saturday's split-squad action, this allows the young prospects or aging veterans an ample opportunity to prove their worth.

"They've been told to be ready to go right out the chute, because that's where your opportunity might come, in the first 10 days," Showalter said. "We're going to get into it before too long when a lot of those innings and at-bats won't be there.

"If I'm a pitcher, you want to bring your breaking ball. If you're a hitter, you want to be geared up to hit some velocity right out of the chute. We'll see if they heeded the advice."

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.