SARASOTA, Fla. – After seven long years, Zach Clark has reached the promised land. No, Clark hasn’t been promised a spot on the Orioles. He may not even pitch there, but at 29, the University Maryland-Baltimore County product is at his first big league spring training.
Clark wasn’t drafted out of UMBC in 2006, but the Orioles were interested in him, and Dean Albany signed the Newark, Del. product.
Slowly, he advanced through the system and finally last year, he was noticed. Clark had a combined record of 15-7 with a 2.89 ERA at Bowie and Norfolk.
“I don’t know how much better it can be. It’s pretty awesome,” Clark said. “It’s the big leagues. It’s the best. I just enjoy every day of it because it’s so good.”
For years, Clark has ridden the buses, eaten the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and slept in Comfort Inns. It’s different here.
“It’s the next step to my goal,” Clark said. “It’s nice to be here, not for a day.”
In the past, Clark has been brought over from the minor league complex to fill out a squad, but felt like an outsider. He’d dress in the auxiliary clubhouse.
“You’re like: ‘should I come in and sit down with all these guys?’ It’s such a close-knit group. It’s nice to be a part of that as opposed to wanting to big here,” Clark said.
It’s Clark’s first real exposure to manager Buck Showalter, and it’s made an impression on him.
“When he talks about something, you realize how much thought goes into everything,” Clark said. “When he talks everybody listens.”