SARASOTA, Fla. - The clubhouse closed to the media at 9 a.m. today because the Orioles were having their annual nutrition meeting. Meanwhile, Kevin Gausman still has packets of mini-powdered donuts taped around his locker, and a few players were munching on the ones distributed yesterday in bags.
You had to appreciate the irony.
No updates on Luis Ayala, who wants to leave camp to pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. It may or may not happen. I may be tired of asking him.
Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Pedro Strop, Mark Hendrickson, Daniel McCutchen, Troy Patton, Daniel Schlereth, Mike Belfiore, Eduardo Rodriguez and Gausman are throwing today, with hitters tracking pitches in the indoor cage.
Schlereth, 26, made only six appearances with the Detroit Tigers in 2012, posting a 10.29 ERA and 2.71 WHIP in seven innings. He came down with left shoulder tendinitis and didn’t pitch after April 21.
Schlereth, the 26th overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, will try to make the club as a left-handed specialist. He’s held left-handed hitters to a 213/.320/.368 line in 184 plate appearances. He’s also struck out 91 batters in 94 innings in four seasons with the Diamondbacks and Tigers.
He’s got more going on than just a famous father, former NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth.
The Orioles signed Schlereth to a minor league contract on Dec. 19. They’re banking on him returning to the form that allowed him to post a 2.89 ERA in 18 appearances with the Tigers in 2010 and a 3.49 ERA in 49 games in 2011.
“I knew this team would be a playoff team,” he said. “I really like the manager. I didn’t really know any guys coming over here, but that didn’t really matter. Every time I threw against Baltimore, they were a tough team. I always looked at their lineup and I was wondering when this team was going to come through and go to the playoffs and move forward, and last year was the year for them. I always wondered why because the team was so good. Gave me a tough time throwing against them.
“It was pretty easy for me. The division is a good division, but that’s what you look for. At least, that’s what I look for. It was an easy decision for me.
“I just think you always look at the team and this team’s got a chance. That’s all you really want is a chance.”
Being healthy again increases his chances, but there’s no shortage of lefty candidates in the bullpen.
Schlereth was reduced to spectator last year as the Tigers won the American League pennant.
“It was disappointing to get hurt during the season, but that’s part of the game,” he said. “It’s definitely tough to watch it from the seats or watching from home and knowing you could go in there and contribute a little bit, but I don’t regret anything. I had some good years in Detroit and played on some great teams, so this is part of the game and you move forward. I don’t regret anything that happened.”
Schlereth’s father, now an analyst on ESPN, already has become a huge Orioles fan.
“He wears his Orioles hat every day,” Daniel said.
“The great thing about him is he supports the decisions I make. He’ll give me some pointers about certain things, but he’s not someone who directs me one way or the other. He lets me make my own decisions.”
Schlereth said he was a running quarterback in the Denver suburbs before focusing exclusively on baseball. The offensive line wasn’t an option.
“Probably not in this life,” he said. “I’m a little too short for that stuff. I could probably put on the weight, though. But my 5-10 height doesn’t help me out.”
Note: The Orioles confirmed today that they agreed to terms with reliever Darren O’Day on a two-year contract with a club option for 2015, thus avoiding arbitration.
His agency announced it before we arrived in Sarasota, but the Orioles hadn’t made it official until today.
O’Day, 30, went 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 67 innings last season, setting career highs in wins, innings, games (69) and strikeouts (69). It was his first season with the Orioles after being claimed on waivers from the Texas Rangers on Nov. 2, 2011.
O’Day stranded 37 of 43 inherited runners (86 percent), the third-best mark in the American League, and he went 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA in 36 games against AL East opponents, holding batters to a .135/.207/.270 line.
All arbitration-eligible Orioles have agreed to terms for 2013.