SARASOTA - Like the Pittsburgh Pirates, it had been a long time since the Baltimore Orioles had reached the playoffs. Unlike the Pirates, the Orioles broke through into the post-season last year. And one of the key reasons was their closer, Sarasota resident Jim Johnson.
The Orioles went from not having a winning season since 1997 to finishing 24 games over .500 with 93 wins as they made the playoffs in 2012.
“You know, looking back at last year, you know, it was obviously a great year. But you gotta turn the page and focus on this year and, you know, it’s a whole other year and we have certain things that we need to accomplish,” says Johnson.
A huge reason they did so well last season was their balance of strong offense, good defense, and steady pitching. The steadiest of whom might have been their closer, Jim Johnson, who converted 51 of 54 save opportunities. “Everybody's always trying to improve, and it's not just us, it’s everybody else that we play against. We got a good group of guys that are all coming back.”
The Orioles have a boatload of young talent, and now that they have had a taste of winning, and the playoffs, the bar has been raised, and expectations right along with them. “Publicly, and also among ourselves, we're excited to get going and it’s good to be back, and we're all ready to go back to work,” says Johnson.
Spring training came earlier this year, as will the games, but the World Baseball Classic will interrupt the flow of spring. “There's not that rush to get ready, so I mean, it's just gonna be a little bit longer. You're gonna have more guys at camp because you’re going to have guys away playing.”