Jeremy Guthrie, 31, one of the top pitchers for the Baltimore Orioles, certainly knows authentic Spanish cuisine when he sees it - or tastes it. The right-handed starter, who grew up in Oregon, lived for two years in Spain while serving a mission with the Church of Latter-day Saints (LDS) nearly a decade ago.
So imagine his delight a year ago, in the first spring training for the Orioles in Sarasota after moving from Fort Lauderdale, when he learned of the restaurant Ceviche Tapas on First Street. "The chef actually made the tortilla for me. He made it by himself and brought it out to me," Guthrie, who lives in Utah in the winter, told Sarasota Patch on Feb. 7. "So it was not only good food but also good service."
The phrase "pitchers and catchers report" is not just music to the ears of baseball fans in Sarasota, as the Orioles players at those positions report on Feb. 13 and hold their first workout the next day. The sound of a cash register opening at local restaurtants, bars and golf courses will also be heard as dozens of Orioles players, coaches and team officials flock to Sarasota in the next few days and weeks. This will be the first spring training for the Orioles under manager Buck Showalter, who was born in DeFuniak Springs, Fla., in 1956 and took over the team last summer.
While Guthrie, who has been with the Orioles since 2007, is partial to Spanish food catcher Caleb Joseph, 24, a top prospect from Tennessee, discovered a Japanese restaurant during spring training last season. Joto Japanese Steak House, on North Tamiami Trail, became one of the favorite places for Joseph to head for a bite to eat.
"The benefit of being in big league camp is you get a little extra money," said Joseph, who advanced to the Class AA level in the Oriole farm system last year. "You get to go out to nicer restaurants than minor leaguers can."
Joseph has been training the past few weeks in Pensacola with his brother, Corban, a prospect in the New York Yankees' farm system. Caleb Joseph has been invited to big league camp this year and plans to arrive in Sarasota on Feb. 12. Last year he joined several catchers, including Matt Wieters, Craig Tatum, Chad Moeller and Adam Donachie, at the Joto Japanese Steak House.
But Joseph does not limit himself to just one restaurant. "One place I spend a lot of time at is . It has become a tradition. We will go to eat there," he said. "It has a lot of TV's to watch games and it has great food."
While last year was the first spring training in Sarasota for Josh Bell, 24, the city has fond memories for the third baseman who made his Major League debut last July 1. Bell, who was born in Illinois, said Feb. 7 his step grandfather used to have a condo in Sarasota and Bell paid a visit when he was 13 or 14 about a decade ago. Bell remembers really good restaurants in the area.
"For me to go back there, you can get away from baseball" in Sarasota, said Bell, who attended spring training in Vero Beach when he was a minor league prospect with the Dodgers and then in Arizona, also with the Dodgers. Bell said there were not many options away from the field at Vero Beach.
While the Orioles moved their major league players to Sarasota in 2010, the team's minor league complex has been at the Buck O'Neill Complex at Twin Lakes Park for years. That means minor league instructors such as Denny Walling, a former big league player from 1975 to 1992, is more familiar with local establishments than many of the Orioles veterans who have spent just one spring training in Sarasota.
"I like the (on South Tamiami Trail) and ," Walling said from his home in Waynesboro, Va., before getting ready to leave for spring training at the O's minor league complex. Walling, a former big league hitting coach with the A's and Mets, is in his third stint with the Orioles and he first joined the organization in 1995 as a minor league hitting instructor.
Besides restaurants and bars, owners of local golf courses can also expect economic benefit from the arrival of the Orioles. Guthrie said he was very impressed last spring training with the service of a course near Ed Smith Stadium. Walling used to play golf in the Sarasota area but said now he leaves his clubs at home. He has taken part in spring training in several cities while playing in the The Show with Oakland, Houston, St. Louis and Texas. "Sarasota is a good place to be. I like it there," he said.
And local business owners also hope the second spring training with the Orioles this year is a shot in the arm financially.