I had an interesting conversation with pitcher Jake Arrieta during Saturday’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center.
(Is it necessary to say “Baltimore?” I once jumped in the back of a Manhattan cab and told the driver to take me to New York-Penn Station. I’m pretty sure “New York” was implied.)
Arrieta repeated that his elbow is 100 percent and he’ll be full-go in spring training, the same thing he told reporters last month at Dave and Buster’s. He’s made an impressive and setback-free recovery from surgery on Aug. 12 to remove a bone spur.
Arrieta told me that the spur would cause him to occasionally lose the feel of his pitches. His hand would go numb. He cited two examples: When he hit Derek Jeter on the hand and Jose Bautista in the head. He’d follow through on his delivery, aiming for the middle of the plate, and the ball would take off.
If Arrieta can win 10 games with that spur, which also restricted his flexibility, I’m feeling better about the chances of him taking a big step forward this year - especially if he keeps receiving such generous run support.
The Orioles averaged 6.86 runs in Arrieta’s starts, the third-highest total in the majors.
The Orioles are among four finalists for free-agent closer Francisco Cordero, according to Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times.
Cordero could push Jim Johnson to the eighth inning. Maybe he also could push Kevin Gregg to another organization if the Orioles are willing to eat enough of the $5.8 million that remains on the veteran right-hander’s contract. Otherwise, the Orioles would have plenty of closing options this season.
The Angels and Phillies also are finalists for Cordero, according to reports, but they can’t promise him the closer’s job. That’s especially true of the Phillies, who signed Jonathan Papelbon over the winter. The other finalist, the Blue Jays, traded for Sergio Santos at the Winter Meetings.
Only if Cordero definitely wants to close. If he wants to win right away, well ...
Anyone who thinks it’s breaking news that manager Buck Showalter would love to have Prince Fielder in his lineup hasn’t been paying attention. Of course Showalter wants Fielder. Why wouldn’t he?
Agent Scott Boras hasn’t provided teams with concrete figures to take or leave. As one person in the organization stated yesterday, “You can’t get a number out of this guy.”
I’m trying really hard to ignore the ridiculous rumors attached to Fielder. I don’t have enough spare time to correct every mistake. But I do share the occasional laugh with members of the organization.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette gets plenty of calls from rival executives regarding young infielders Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop and pitcher Parker Bridwell. He’ll hold on to them.
I woke up this morning, checked my phone and found a text message informing me that the Wilson Betemit deal is for two years rather than one. If I fall back asleep, maybe he’ll end up with the contract that Fielder is seeking.
So how do I feel about Betemit? Glad you asked.
Betemit will officially join the Orioles after he passes a physical. I’d really like him as a bench player instead of the primary designated hitter, since I prefer more pop, but he’s a useful guy. Nothing wrong with having that bat on the roster, and someone who can move around the infield and play a corner outfield position in an emergency.
Betemit is a career .344/.384/.527 hitter in 93 at-bats against the Orioles. Probably good to bring him on their side.
Also, Betemit is a career .341/.431/.500 hitter in 44 at-bats against the Yankees, but .162/.197/.221 in 68 at-bats against the Rays.
There’s more: Betemit is a career .406/.461/.638 hitter with 10 doubles in 69 at-bats atop the order.
I don’t know who’s coming off the 40-man roster, but you can always count on me to remind you of the candidates, so here you go again:
In case you missed it, the Diamondbacks signed former Orioles catcher Craig Tatum, who was designated for assignment by the Astros last week. That’s a lot of address changes since October.