Hoiles, Cespedes and more

As I told you yesterday, former Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles will serve as an instructor in spring training. He leaves for Sarasota on Feb. 16, two days before pitchers and catchers report.

Hoiles' duties will be more clearly defined next month. He's expected to serve as a roving instructor, moving between the major league and minor league camps. He'll work with the catchers, of course, but he also could offer instruction on hitting.

"I'll go back and forth if that's what the team needs," he said.

Minor league camp doesn't start until March 3, so his early work most certainly will come at Ed Smith Stadium.

Hoiles met last week with manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Rick Adair, director of pitching development Rick Peterson and special assistant Brady Anderson. He later met with director of player personnel John Stockstill.

Hoiles could be placed on a schedule similar to the one B.J. Surhoff followed, where he might head home for a brief time and return to Sarasota. Again, the details are still being formulated.

"I'm very excited about it," he said. "This is an opportunity I've been waiting for and I really look forward to getting in and helping any way I can, whether it's catching, pitching, hitting. And it doesn't matter at what level, major league or minor league. I'm going to make the most of it and try to help these guys out with the knowledge and experience I have, and having been through the whole organization before.

"This is what I wanted. Just get a foot in the door and be part of the organization. And whatever moves are made down the road, I'm already in the organization. A lot of times they hire from within, and at least now I'm in it instead of being on the outside. I'll show them what I can do and work my butt off, and if something opens up later, maybe I'll be in the running."

Now that Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic and become a free agent, we'll be subjected to more rumors regarding the Orioles. The baton has been passed from Prince Fielder to Cespedes.

The Orioles scouted Cespedes immediately after the Winter Meetings and they attended a private workout. They're not saying much about him, but it's apparent that they're intrigued by his tools.

Earlier this month, Cespedes listed the Orioles, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs, Tigers and Indians as being the six teams expressing the most interest in him. The Tigers are likely out of the sweepstakes after signing Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract. And Cespedes reportedly does not want to play in Miami.

The Marlins still figure to be aggressive in their pursuit, along with both Chicago teams. I don't expect the Orioles to sign him, and manager Buck Showalter sounds prepared to start Nolan Reimold in left field, but I'm not completely dismissing the possibility.

Cespedes went 5-for-35 (.143) with a home run, no walks and 10 strikeouts in the Dominican Winter League. He reportedly had trouble hitting a slider - or getting the ball out of the infield. He batted .333 with 33 home runs, 99 RBIs and 11 stolen bases over 90 games for the Cuban National Team during the 2010-11 season.

Some scouts believe he's ready to play in the majors. Some scouts think he needs time in the minors, either at Double-A or Triple-A.

According to Bovada, the Tigers' World Series odds dropped from 14/1 to 9/1 after they signed Fielder. The odds are 7/1 that he wins the AL MVP.

Two Orioles are on MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list: Manny Machado at No. 6 and Dylan Bundy at No. 10. And neither one is particularly close to the majors. Heavy sigh.

Machado figures to spend a good chunk of the 2012 season at Double-A Bowie, but there's a chance that he'll start out at Single-A Frederick.

You can follow outfielder Cory Aldridge, signed by the Orioles to a minor league contract, on Twitter at @aldridge32. But judging by his picture, you might need a ticket to the gun show.

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