Orioles interested in Nick Johnson (updated)

The Orioles have discussed signing free-agent first baseman Nick Johnson to a minor league contract. No word yet on whether an agreement has been reached, but his name has come up in the warehouse.

Update: No deal is in place, but the sides are close to an agreement.

Johnson, 33, didn’t play in the majors last year. He appeared in 53 games with Triple-A Columbus and batted .201/.316/.332 with six doubles, six homers and 13 RBIs.

Johnson has dealt with a myriad of health issues over the years, including back, wrist and leg injuries. He didn’t play in 2007 because of a broken femur and missed most of 2008 with a torn ligament in his wrist. He underwent wrist surgery in 2010 after getting into 24 games with the Yankees - his second tour of duty in the Bronx.

The most games he’s appeared in is 147, and that was back in 2006 with the Nationals, when he hit .290/.428/.520 with 46 doubles, 23 homers and 77 RBIs.

In parts of nine major league seasons, Johnson is hitting .270/.401/.443 with 91 homers and 387 RBIs in 794 games. He’s not a power guy, but he gets on base, as evidenced by his career OBP. The guy isn’t afraid to take a walk. He also was regarded as a plus defender at first base.

The challenge is keeping him in one piece.

Also, Double-A Bowie outfielders Xavier Avery and LJ Hoes have been invited to major league camp. Infielders Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop will report to the minor league complex, but you can expect them to get into a few exhibition games.

And finally, the Orioles signed catcher Dane Sardinha to a minor league deal with a spring invite. Sardinha, 32, has played parts of six seasons with the Reds, Tigers and Phillies, batting .166./.243/.265.

I’m going with catch-and-throw guy.

He’ll likely compete for a Triple-A job along with recently signed catcher Ronny Paulino.

The Sun reported the Sardinha signing earlier today. I’m adding that he received the invite.

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