Jurrjens on his contract, knee and latest opportunity

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles have 61 players in camp today. It’s a full roster, one that includes infielder Yamaico Navarro and pitcher Jair Jurrjens.

Jurrjens is wearing No. 48. The Orioles had a uniform waiting for him. They just needed to adjust the deal he agreed upon.

Jurrjens received a minor league deal after the Orioles, concerned about his right knee, withdrew a $1.5 million contract that included $2.5 million in possible incentives.

“A little bit tweaked, a small tweak,” Jurrjens said. “It’s not really a whole lot different. Honestly, I don’t know much details about it. I tried not to get into it, just let my agent do it and try to stay out of it and just worry about the things I can control about working out and getting ready and just hope for the deal to be finalized. And I’m here.

“It was a big league deal and they adjusted it because of the concern and made it a minor league deal. If I’m out there and can stay on the mound, I know what I can do. A lot of people know what I can do. I’m just going to come here and show everybody that I’m healthy and I can pitch again.

“I’ve been throwing bullpens and I’m ready to go.”

Jurrjens confirmed that the Orioles had “some concerns” about the results of his physical. He underwent surgery in 2011 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

“Small details on the contract. Just making sure everybody is happy with the contract we signed,” he said. “It took a little longer than I was (expecting) it to take, but I’m just happy to be here now.

“The knee is fine. No setbacks this offseason. I was able to do everything I wanted to do. It felt good. I’m really happy with the way the offseason went. The physical was different and more stressful than I wanted it to be, but I feel good.”

Jurrjens lost velocity on his fastball last season while going 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA in 11 games with the Atlanta Braves.

“It was mechanics and strength in the leg,” he said. “I wasn’t able to push off like I wanted to. I didn’t have the strength after the surgery. The knee was fine last year, no pain at all. Just weakness in the leg and not able to push off and get the velocity.”

The Braves non-tendered Jurrjens, who made $5.5 million last season.

“You could say they gave up on me, but that’s part of the business,” he said. “They’ve got young guys in the system they wanted to give a chance. They’re cheaper. Everybody’s trying to be cheap this year. No hard feelings. It’s part of the business. You keep moving, you keep trying to do your thing with another team.”

Asked why he chose the Orioles, Jurrjens replied, “It’s a young club. A lot of guys on this team that are hungry to get to the playoffs again and win a ring. Everybody plays this game to win a ring and go to the playoffs and play in October. Everybody wants to be the only teams playing in October. Seeing this team get to the playoffs last year, especially after a good run, it’s like, why not? Be around young guys who are hungry. I’m young and I’m hungry, too. Just trying to prove something again.

“They have one of the best centerpieces from catcher to shortstop to center field. Why not? If you have a good defense behind you and you’re a contact pitcher, you want to come to a team that’s good on defense. It makes it easier.

“When they showed interest, I was like, ‘Yeah, definitely. I want to go to a team that’s a contender.’ They play in one of the most difficult divisions, but I like a challenge and I’m ready for that challenge.”

Note: Jurrjens won’t pitch for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. Luis Ayala still hasn’t made a final decision on whether he’ll join Mexico’s team.

Ayala said he’s waiting for a call from the Mexican Baseball Federation.

Ayala, Darren O’Day and Jim Johnson will throw their first bullpen sessions today.

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