It must seem a little strange for Jeremy Guthrie to be greeted this way by so many people who approach him:
"So, are you surprised that you're still here?"
It happened again yesterday at Dave and Buster's at the Arundel Mills Mall. Reporters glided over to his table and greeted him warmly. Then it happened. Again.
One guy in the group asked if Guthrie was happy that he "was still here."
That's quite an opening line.
Guthrie wouldn't take the bait.
"Yeah, it's great to be back here in Baltimore," he replied. "It's a great party. The kids are super-excited and the Orioles do a great job, so it's nice to be back here with Zach (Britton) and Jake (Arrieta). Where's Brian (Roberts)? Was he supposed to come?"
Guthrie was informed that Roberts was on his way. And we temporarily ignored the elephant in the room.
Guthrie was the subject of intense trade speculation during the non-waiver deadline in late July. He's been the subject of intense trade speculation since the season ended, beginning with reports that the Angels had inquired about him.
It's hard to rattle Guthrie, who immerses himself in family, friends and his Twitter account (@jguthrie46). He's not sitting at home wringing his hands and blowing up cell phones in an attempt to sort through all the rumors and speculation.
So Jeremy, are you surprised to still be here?
"No, not at all. Not at all," he said.
You didn't expect to be traded after the season?
"No, I've never had that expectation," he said. "I'm sure if they see something that fits, they'll do it, but it's not something that I expected ever, so I'm not surprised."
Guthrie hears the rumors. He can't avoid them. He has friends who track all the blogs and tweets, and Guthrie isn't a stranger to the social media.
"Yeah, I follow your tweets," he said, jabbing me again for one particular day when I kept misspelling names of Orioles farmhands and which team had received which players. I had a Twitter meltdown after the Orioles acquired Taylor Teagarden. It was quite comical, and Guthrie playfully offered his support as I fired off one correction after another.
"The only rumors I see really are tweets, and they're so broad and general that they don't hold quite as much weight as maybe a full-fledged story," he said. "You see things, but there's been so much attention paid to the big free agents, so I think the trade stuff has kind of been swept under the rug for a time, anyhow."
Guthrie said it isn't difficult to read the speculation that he might be headed to a new city.
"It's simple," he said. "You go on and you assume nothing will happen, and if something does happens, then you adjust. I think it becomes difficult if you start planning or thinking about what you would do if something did happen. There's no difference this year from any other year for me."
There's a popular sentiment that the Orioles should give Guthrie a chance to win someplace else, since it hasn't happened here.
"That's good. It's positive," he said. "Obviously, if it comes out that way, it's a positive thing. It's trying to point out the positives both for the team and for the players, and those are appreciated of course. But like I said, there are so many things that get passed around and a lot of ideas. That's how teams come up with trades and signings, is by tossing around ideas and they become rumors. There's probably 1,000 of those that happen every single day and one or two that come to fruition. It's not something that a player needs to worry about and not something I worry about."
Would it be his choice to stay?
"Luckily, it's not my choice, so I don't have to make the tough decision," he said. "There are a lot of things I have to make tough decisions on in life, and I'm not a very good decision-maker, as my wife or anybody who knows me will tell you, so I'm lucky that I don't have to make the decision. I just have to show up every day wherever I'm employed and give the best I have and try to get better. That's hard enough work."
Guthrie said there's been no discussions with the Orioles about a contract extension, and he doesn't mind one way or the other.
"Ultimately, every player is trying to play well enough that he would be signed to a multi-year contract with the team, so if I feel like I'm deserving of that, I feel like the opportunity will be there," he said. "All I do in the meantime is just continue to try to get better and be a better pitcher."
And not act surprised that he's still here.