McFarland's road to first opener pays off

McFarland's road to first opener pays off

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.

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."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.