Urrutia actually attended the Orioles’ game in Cuba back in 1999. He sat in the stands as a 12-year-old.
Urrutia’s childhood hero was Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams, and he would like to wear No. 51 with the Orioles. Fred Ferreira also signed Williams, who was managed by Buck Showalter.
Urrutia could also play first base, but the Orioles don’t have any current plans to work him out in the infield.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette didn’t dismiss the possibility of Urrutia playing in Baltimore this summer.
Nick Markakis won’t return to the lineup until Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Sarasota. Showalter hasn’t decided whether Markakis will play right field or serve as the designated hitter.
Nolan Reimold could play in the outfield on Sunday.
Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will pitch Saturday night in Fort Myers. Showalter hasn’t announced which prospect will start, but Bundy appears to be the choice.
Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez will pitch on Sunday.
The Orioles are discussing roster cuts, which could be announced on Thursday.
Much more to come.
Updated: Here are some quotes from executive vice president Dan Duquette:
“Henry was recommended by Danny Haas and Fred Ferreira. They saw him in the Dominican, and we followed him. We had some video on him from international competition. He played for the Cuban national team in 2010. And he also had a very good record with the Las Tunas club. So if you take a look at his age the last season when he was 24 years old, he compares very well with a couple players who have come to the states and done well. Notably (Yoenis) Cespedes and the center fielder with Texas, (Leonys) Martin. He has a terrific pedigree with his family. And I really like his thinking. He said, ‘My idea was to come to the states to come to the big leagues,’ so he’s very clear on what his intent is. And that’s our intent, too. He just needs to get back into playing condition.”
The Orioles were going to assign Urrutia to Double-A Bowie after reaching agreement with him last summer, but the delay in getting him to the U.S. ruined those plans.
“We’ll see how he is,” Duquette said. “Obviously, we want him to get himself in shape first and we’ll see where it goes. If he can get himself in shape and we can come back and take a look at him later in spring training, we’ll see where he fits in with our big league club and then we can make a better assessment. But based on his experience and his age and how he goes about his business, from what I’ve seen, I’m like him - we didn’t sign him to play in the minor leagues. If he needs to go to the minor leagues to get his game back and get some of the rust off, that’s fine, but we’ll find out a little more about his bat. I think his bat is pretty advanced.”
Could he really play in Baltimore this year?
“Yes,” Duquette replied.
The Orioles grew concerned about the delay, not wanting Urrutia’s skills to erode. He hasn’t played competitively since 2010 in a tournament in Japan.
“These careers are short and they’re fragile and Henry was having trouble getting a platform to continue his career and to start his career as a professional, but we got beyond that and he’s still young,” Duquette said. “He reported in very good shape. It looks to me that with his drive and his pedigree, he’ll be able to do what he does well for the Orioles.
“He has a very good arm, he has a quick bat and he has power. I’m sure that will translate to other positions. I believe that he also has some experience in first base.”
Urrutia gave up switch-hitting in Cuba, tried it again after defecting to the Dominican Republic in 2011 - where the Orioles scouted him - and gave it up again.
“He has a really good bat from the left side,” Duquette said. “I think that’s his best asset.”