Orioles notes on Berkman, Vazquez and more (plus FanFest autograph lineup)

The Orioles have reached out “informally” to free-agent first baseman/designated hitter Lance Berkman, according to a team official, but there are still doubts whether he’s going to play in 2013.

This may be another case of kicking the tires, a phrase that never gets old.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported earlier today that the Orioles were one of the teams expressing interest in Berkman, who told the paper that any club pursuing him would have to talk him out of retirement.

“I know that sounds crass - I wish it didn’t - but it’s a big commitment,” he said. “It can put a strain on the family. If I’m going to play, I’m going to give my heart and soul to the team. But if the carrot’s not big enough, the mule isn’t going to want to go.”

The mule quote will go down as one of my favorites in 2013, no matter how early it is in the new year.

Berkman lives in Houston and the Texas Rangers reportedly are making a strong push to sign him. Consider them the favorites if Berkman puts off retirement.

Berkman, who turns 37 next month, was limited to 22 games with the St. Louis Cardinals last season because of a knee injury. He batted .259/.381/.444 with two homers and seven RBIs, and his days of playing in the field are drawing to a close.

His entire career may be doing it, but Berkman is still deciding.

The Orioles still want to add a veteran pitcher to their rotation, but they haven’t watched Javier Vazquez throw and don’t have any immediate plans to do so. They could scout him in the World Baseball Classic, where he’ll represent Puerto Rico, if they decide to take a look.

The Orioles may announce their minor league staffs next week.

They still need to hire a minor league infield coordinator after Bobby Dickerson was named third base coach. They’ve considered some internal candidates - Mike Bordick’s duties with MASN apparently have taken him out of the running - but it now appears more likely that they’ll go outside the organization.

Two names I heard a while ago were Tim Bogar and Spike Owen, but I have no idea whether they’re still in play.

The Orioles are working on signing their arbitration-eligible players and may get a couple of them done in the next few weeks. They offered contracts to Chris Davis, Jason Hammel, Tommy Hunter, Jim Johnson, Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters before the midnight deadline on Nov. 30.

Wayne Britton, a special assignment scout with the Orioles, will be one of five recipients of the “Legends of Scouting Award” at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s 10th Annual “In The Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular on Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

Britton began his scouting career with the New York Mets in 1973 before joining the Boston Red Sox five years later. The New York Yankees hired Britton in 2002 as their national cross-checker and he served in that role for the Cincinnati Reds from 2008-11. The Orioles hired him in 2012.

Orioles director of scouting Gary Rajisch will attend the event. Rick Dempsey will make a presentation to Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer.

Update: Here is the Orioles FanFest autograph lineup. For details on purchasing autograph vouchers, click here.

ESSKAY Autograph Station 1:

11:20 a.m. - Tommy Hunter, T.J. McFarland, John Russell, Matt Wieters
12:40 p.m. - Kevin Gausman, Jim Palmer, Taylor Teagarden
2 p.m. - Brady Anderson, Jake Arrieta, Troy Patton, Brian Roberts
3:20 p.m. - Kevin Gausman, Manny Machado, Ryan Minor, Darren O’Day
4:40 p.m. - Jim Johnson, Taylor Teagarden, Chris Tillman

ESSKAY Autograph Station 2:

11:20 a.m. - Rick Adair, Nick Markakis, Troy Patton
12:40 p.m. - Jim Johnson, Ken Singleton, Pedro Strop
2 p.m. - Mike Bordick, Jason Hammel, Nate McLouth
3:20 p.m. - Luis Ayala, Jim Palmer, Pedro Strop
4:40 p.m. - Wilson Betemit, Miguel Gonzalez, Jason Hammel, Steve Johnson

ESSKAY Autograph Station 3:

11:20 a.m. - Al Bumbry, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz
12:40 p.m. - Zach Clark, Ryan Flaherty, Arthur Rhodes, Buck Showalter
2 p.m. - Steve Johnson, Wayne Kirby, Nick Markakis
3:20 p.m. - T.J. McFarland, Jim Presley, Jonathan Schoop, Matt Wieters
4:40 p.m. - Jake Arrieta, Dylan Bundy, Nolan Reimold

ESSKAY Autograph Station 4:

11:20 a.m. - Chris Hoiles, Manny Machado, Trayvon Robinson
12:40 p.m. - Dylan Bundy, LJ Hoes, Chris Tillman
2 p.m. - Chris Davis, Miguel Gonzalez, Brian Matusz
3:20 p.m. - Zach Clark, Chris Hoiles, Adam Jones
4:40 p.m. - Zach Britton, Brian Roberts, Ken Singleton

As always, this schedule is subject to change, although the Orioles will do their best to maintain the announced lineup.

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