SARASOTA, Fla. -- Five things to know about the Baltimore Orioles:1. All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts on 12 consecutive losing seasons ... and on the Orioles now boasting such young talent as pitchers Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Brad Bergeson and Gold Glove center fielder Adam Jones: "If three or four years ago we were just going into the tunnel, we're definitely past the halfway point now. I'm one of the people who has been here for eight or nine of those years, and this is the best group of young talent we've had since I've been here. ... Mr. MacPhail [O's president and general manager Andy] has done a really good job of giving this organization an identity. We may have taken a step back for a year or two, but sometimes you have to do that to go forward."
2. MacPhail on realistic expectations for Matusz, Tillman and Bergeson in 2010: "In our business, they've got this thing called the Sophomore Slump. I think, really, what that is, is a function of the league getting to know weaknesses and maybe exploiting them. It's really about what sophomores make adjustments to, and you never know who those guys are going to be until you get into it. We're confident they have the ability to excel in our league, but we don't expect it to happen overnight."
3. Matusz, a 23-year-old lefty and the first pitcher taken in the 2008 draft, was 5-2 with a 4.63 ERA in eight starts during his second-half major league baptism last season. What does he take from that into 2010? "I learned so much," he says. "From struggling at times to going seven innings in each of my last three outings. ... It's all about experience. I thought that in the big leagues, my curveball was going to have to be that much better, and I would have to spot every one of my other pitches perfectly. In reality, I had to be loose. It's all a matter of staying loose. In those last three outings, I was able to do that."4. What's new with center fielder Jones? He spent the winter working out at Athletes Performance Institute in Phoenix, adding lean muscle and a bit of weight as he learns more about how to make it through a 162-game season. He says reports that he gained 25 pounds are exaggerated. Just 24, Jones is in the odd position of being asked to become a team leader at such a young age. He's comfortable doing so, though he says he will make sure he doesn't "step on the toes" of veterans like Roberts and Miguel Tejada.
5. While right fielder Nick Markakis steps into his brand new six-year, $66.1 million contract, another of the O's cornerstone pieces, left fielder Nolan Reimold, is returning from September surgery to repair his left Achilles' tendon. He's in camp with no restrictions, though the Orioles will take it cautiously with him. Manager Dave Trembley was planning to hold him out of the first few exhibitions because of the cold weather. "Common sense will prevail," Trembley says. "We're not going to come out of the chute playing him in back-to-back games. He's taking part in different drills. It's important to make sure he's ready at the end of camp, not at the beginning of camp."