One of the qualities shared by the Orioles’ pitchers is their enthusiasm for competing in spring training. They keep insisting that they’re looking forward to it, that it adds to the excitement in camp.
I’d rather have a spot waiting for me, but that’s how I roll. Don’t judge me.
“We were in the same position last year,” said Steve Johnson, who will be fighting for a spot in the rotation. “There were a ton of pitchers in camp last year and I was in a little bit of a different position, but it was nice being around the competition. I’m just going to be glad to be a part of it this year.
“Competing is fun. You know all the guys. You’ve played with them and they’re all going for the same spots. It’s a good competition.”
See what I mean. Chris Tillman basically said the same thing earlier this week on “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report.” It’s a common theme.
“Everybody wants to be a part of the team,” Johnson said. “We know what it took to get to where we were and we all work pretty hard. There was a lot of being sent down and coming back up and going to Norfolk and working on things. A lot of guys had to do that last year. I don’t know how many times it happens where you have a lot of guys who meant a lot to the team going up and down and working really hard to get back. We had a ton of guys going in and doing different roles. (Brian) Matusz, (Jake) Arrieta, Tommy (Hunter) going to the bullpen and going back to starting when they needed them.
“It’s obviously going to add to the competition. We all want to be back on this team.”
Johnson was a big contributor as a rookie last season, going from a guy fighting for a spot in Norfolk’s rotation to winning all four decisions with the Orioles and posting a 2.11 ERA in 12 games. He allowed 23 hits and struck out 46 batters in 38 1/3 innings.
Manager Buck Showalter has stated numerous times that Johnson deserves a chance to compete for a starting job in spring training, saying the right-hander did everything asked of him.
“It means a lot,” Johnson said. “I’ve just got to go out there and keep doing what I did last year. And I’m hoping to go into spring training and win a spot, whether it’s a starter or reliever. Just try to do whatever they need me to do. I’ve just got to keep competing. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
* The Orioles could announce Jair Jurrjens’ signing later today or Friday.
Jurrjens has agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal that includes a possible $2.5 million in incentives, and it will become official once he passes his physical. Then, the Orioles can actually comment on it.
* The Orioles were among the many teams that sent scouts to Peoria, Ariz., yesterday to watch Kip Wells, Mark Lowe and Ryan Rowland-Smith throw bullpen sessions, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.
The Orioles had interest in Wells about 20 Winter Meetings ago, as I recall. Maybe it was 15. I tend to exaggerate.
Wells, 35, didn’t pitch in the majors in 2010 and 2011, and he went 2-4 with a 4.58 ERA in seven starts with the Padres last season.
He’s pitched for nine major league teams. Can he make it 10?
Rowland-Smith is a lefty from Australia. If Showalter can talk him into lowering his arm slot and throwing from down under ...
* Infielder Bill Hall has agreed to a minor league deal with the Angels that includes an invitation to spring training.
Hall appeared in seven games with the Orioles last season, going 2-for-7 with a home run. He hit .246/.300/.430 with 18 doubles, 15 homers and 45 RBIs in 90 games with Norfolk.
The Orioles didn’t appear to have any interest in re-signing Hall.
* The Orioles will hold the third annual OriolesREACH Birdland Golf Classic on Feb. 20 at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club to benefit the Miracle League of Manasota, an organization dedicated to providing an opportunity for every person to play baseball, regardless of their ability. The event begins with registration and lunch at 11 a.m., with a shotgun start set for 12:30 p.m.
The classic will feature a silent auction and the chance to play a round with current and former Orioles players and coaches. Showalter, closer Jim Johnson, shortstop J.J. Hardy, center fielder Adam Jones and catcher Matt Wieters are among the many Orioles scheduled to attend.
“Proceeds from this event stay right here in the Manasota area and over the last few years, the money raised has helped pay for a specially designed field that provides all children a chance to play baseball,” Johnson, a Sarasota resident, said in a statement. “The event is a lot of fun for all involved, and we hope many people will come out to help support this great cause.”
Registration is now open for golfers and corporate partners. There are multiple levels of participation available, including MVP Sponsor packages which consist of recognition as a presenting sponsor, a foursome with the opportunity to select your Orioles playing partner, four infield box seats to a 2013 Orioles spring training game, and more. Since its inception, the Birdland Golf Classic has raised more than $56,000 for the Miracle League of Manasota.
For the 14,000 school-aged children with disabilities and their adult counterparts in Sarasota and Manatee counties, a synthetically surfaced baseball field with all the requisite amenities was built last year in Longwood Park, just off University Parkway in Sarasota. Sarasota County committed $500,000 to the capital improvement of Longwood Park, while the Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates contributed $150,000 for the field. The opening game of the Miracle League of Manasota was held on March 17, 2012.
For more information or to register for the golf event, contact the Miracle League of Manasota at 941-225-2966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The entry deadline is Feb. 13.
* The Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation will present former Baltimore Ravens player O.J. Brigance and his wife Chanda with the 2013 Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation Community Service Award at the annual Babe’s Birthday Bash on Feb. 8 from 5:30-9:00 p.m. at the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards. The event will celebrate the 118th anniversary of RuthÂ’s birth in Baltimore on February 6, 1895.
The Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation Community Service Award was created to honor Ruth’s memory by recognizing an active or former professional athlete or individual with ties to the Maryland sports community who has demonstrated a strong devotion to Baltimore and the State of Maryland by giving back to the community. Previous recipients include Matt Stover, Edwin Mulitalo, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, Nick and Christina Markakis, and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.
Brigance played in the National Football League for seven years, winning a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2000. In 2007, Brigance was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a motor neuron disease. O.J. and Chanda created the Brigance Brigade Foundation to raise funds to equip, encourage and empower people living with ALS. They strive to improve the quality of life for patients and their families by providing needed equipment, resource guidance and support services.
The Brigance Brigade has partnered with the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins to support funding of research for a cure. O.J. Brigance currently works for the Baltimore Ravens as a senior adviser to player development.
Since its inception, the Brigance Brigade Foundation has worked to not only spread ALS awareness throughout the state of Maryland, but also help its residents affected by the disease who are in need of assistance. The Brigance Brigade Foundation has donated equipment, services and grants to numerous families in the Baltimore community, which has alleviated some of the financial and emotional strains of dealing with ALS.
Tickets to the event are $45 each for members of the museum, $55 apiece for the general public when purchased in advance and $60 each at the door on the night of the event. Ten or more tickets purchased together are discounted at $40 each. The evening will include admission to Sports Legends Museum’s galleries, unlimited ballpark-inspired food and beverages, a silent auction, appearances by local professional and amateur athletes and free parking at Camden Yards.
Tickets are available by calling Whitney Edmonds at 410-727-1539, ext. 3033 or online at http://www.baberuthmuseum.org/.
* Shameless plug alert: I’m joining Jim Hunter for the “Hot Stove Baseball” show from 6-7 p.m. on WBAL Radio. It normally airs on Saturdays, but the Super Bowl altered the broadcast schedule.
Pitching coach Rick Adair will call into the show. Got any questions for him?