Executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed earlier today that the Orioles hired Rick Peterson as the organization’s director of pitching development.
Peterson signed a one-year contract. He’ll basically replace former minor league pitching coordinator Alan Dunn, with expanded duties.
“We’ve been talking to Rick since early November,” Duquette said. “I was looking at my phone the other day. We’ve been talking to him since around Nov. 15. He’s an accomplished pro. We want him to come in and help us with the development of pitching throughout the organization.”
Peterson, 57, is known for implementing techniques designed to reduce the risk of injuries in pitchers. He’s also one of the more analytical instructors in the game, earning the nickname “The Professor” because of his use of biomechanical research and psychological principles to help pitchers refine their deliveries.
“I think that the very best pitching coaches are excellent clinicians,” Duquette said. “They’ll help the player with the most efficient delivery, and if you have a good, efficient delivery, you can have good command of your pitches, which is really the key.
“Your great pitching coaches, they also help your pitchers develop the right attitude and the right mental skills. Rick has done a lot of work in terms of training pitchers to perform at a top level. He has a good program. He has a sound, fundamental program, and he utilizes technology to help him get that program implemented and help the pitchers develop the skills they need.”
Peterson’s ideas and methods might vary a bit from the ones practiced by the other pitching coaches and instructors in the organization.
“Rick has a proven plan and program and pitching is a very scarce resource, so handling pitchers and pitching coaches and teaching proper fundamentals and developing good skills, it’s in the organization’s best interests to do that,” Duquette said. “So I think we’ve got the right man to do that job.”
Duquette said he isn’t expecting to sign his last four arbitration-eligible players - Robert Andino, Brad Bergesen, Jeremy Guthrie and Adam Jones - before today’s deadline. However, the two sides can still negotiate before their hearing dates. It’s not much of a deadline except that the Orioles and players must exchange salary figures.
“It’s doubtful. It’s possible that we could, but I expect that we’ll exchange numbers and the process will continue,” Duquette said.
“I’m not afraid to go to arbitration. I’ve gone to arbitration a few times with the Expos and a couple times with the Red Sox. I’m not afraid to go. I think it’s good for the club to go sometimes. Sometimes, you just can’t reach agreement because there’s a difference in evaluation. But for the most part, I’d prefer to settle a contract between the parties.”
Asked whether the Orioles are in the market for a closer, Duquette said, “We’re still trying to upgrade our pitching staff.” That includes late-inning relief.
Jim Johnson doesn’t know what his role will be in 2012. It’s still likely that he’ll work out of the bullpen, either as a set-up man or the closer.
“Buck (Showalter) can decide that in the spring,” Duquette said. “It looked like he did a good job in the bullpen.”
Duquette claims that he didn’t know Yoenis Cespedes was 2-for-19 with six strikeouts in five games in the Dominican Winter League.
“Personally, I haven’t been following him,” Duquette said.
Does this mean the Orioles aren’t “in on” the Cuban outfielder?
“We’ve seen him work out,” Duquette said. “You can keep following him. It’s kind of interesting. But I haven’t been following it. I didn’t know he was 2-for-19 until you told me.”
Here’s an update on outfielder Kyle Hudson, who was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Yin Chen:
Hudson can’t be placed on waivers and outrighted to the minors before March because he’s “draft excluded.” The Orioles must trade or release him. They can re-sign him if he’s released, but he can’t play for them before May 15.
Update: As expected, the Orioles will exchange salary proposals with Andino, Bergesen, Guthrie and Jones. A hearing date will be set for next month in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Andino made $421,000 last season, Bergesen $434,000, Guthrie $5.75 million and Jones $3.25 million.