Today's game, a flight to Virginia, scoop on Schoop's gloves, reading Ripken

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles will play an exhibition game today against the Phillies, but it won't have the normal spring feel to it.

Manager Buck Showalter, players and staff will hop on a charter at 4 p.m and fly into Virginia to attend a gathering of family and friends honoring Monica Pence Barlow. They expect to be back in Sarasota by 10:30 p.m.

The outcome of these games is largely meaningless, especially a week into the schedule. That description has never been more fitting than today.

Among the players making the trip are Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Tommy Hunter, Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz and Darren O'Day. Showalter and his wife, Angela, executive vice president Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson, director of baseball administration Tripp Norton and director of major league administration Ned Rice also will attend.

Ubaldo Jimenez makes his Orioles debut today. He's no longer confined to throwing bullpen sessions and live batting practice.

"I'm very excited to be out there and to be wearing this uniform," he said. "It's been a long time since I've been on the mound in a game, so it's going to be really exciting.

"Everything's feeling good. I've been working hard every day. I've been throwing bullpens and everything feels good."

Matusz and Miguel Gonzalez will follow Jimenez to the mound. A.J. Burnett will start for the Phillies.

You may recall that the Orioles had some interest in the Monkton resident during the winter.

Always in search of morning notes that don't involve warts or the weather, I decided to ask Jonathan Schoop why he chooses not to wear batting gloves in games. I approached his locker as he was unwrapping a new pair of bright orange batting gloves.

Mind blown.

Apparently, Schoop wears the gloves during batting practice, but that's it. Why?

After a long pause, Schoop replied, "Good question. That's a good question. I really don't have an answer. I guess when the game starts, I just go with what's the most comfortable.

"Since I was a kid, I felt more comfortable that way. And it worked."

Schoop said he may wear gloves once or twice a month, "maybe if it's too cold."

"I just prefer no batting gloves," he said.

Cal Ripken Jr. will visit Ed Smith Stadium on March 12 for the Orioles' game against the Phillies, where he will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and sign copies of his new children's book, "Squeeze Play," on the lower concourse beginning at 2 p.m.

Ripken will sign the first 300 books for fans. The visit is part of a national book tour for "Squeeze Play," the fourth installment in the New York Times best-selling "Cal Ripken, Jr.'s All-Stars" series. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the game for $16.99.

Due to time constraints, Ripken will be unable to sign items other than his book.

Tickets for the Phillies-Orioles game are still available and can be purchased at the ballpark, via www.orioles.com/spring or by phone at 877-222-2802.

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