Updating Urrutia in AFL

I want to take a break this morning from talking about Orioles pitching coach candidates and revisit the AFL.

Daryle Lamonica completed an 80-yard touchdown pass to Warren Wells, and ...

Hold on, that's the American Football League. Let me try that again.

I've got something here in my notes about the Tampa Bay Storm and the Orlando Predators, but I'm pretty sure that's the Arena Football League. Stay with me.

OK, Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia is swinging a hot bat in the Arizona Fall League, but he's also got a sore right elbow. He's been restricted to DH duty, but could be nearing a return to the outfield.

Surprise manager Gary Kendall said Urrutia is on a throwing progression. He tossed the ball from 90 feet Tuesday and 120 feet yesterday. He wasn't in the Saguaros lineup for their 8-6 win over Salt River.

(Is Salt River anything like Salt Lake City? Just wondering)

Kendall said Urrutia could play left or right field today or Friday.

"When he's healthy, we'll try to get him in left," Kendall said. "It's something Buck (Showalter) and I talked about."

It's important that Urrutia get as many reps in left field as possible over these last few weeks. The Orioles could have a vacancy next season if they don't re-sign Nate McLouth.

Urrutia appeared in two games in left with the Orioles, totaling only three innings. He's a work in progress.

"As far as his outfield play, he's working hard playing balls off the bat, but he hasn't been able to get out there and get innings," said Kendall, who also managed Urrutia at Double-A Bowie. "He's going to have to work twice as hard when he gets back.

"He's working on his routes to fly balls in batting practice and he's taking ground balls in the outfield and doing drill work. He's certainly swinging the bat well."

That's for sure. Urrutia is hitting .409/.480/.500 in seven games, going 9-for-22 with two doubles and two RBIs.

"He's one of the league leaders in average, but again, I'd like to see him in the outfield," Kendall said. "I told him we've got to get him healthy and get him out there and make the most of the last couple of weeks we've got him here before spring training."

A big reason why Urrutia is in Arizona is to work on his defense, but the tender elbow threw a monkey wrench in those plans. Same with the shortage of shortstops preventing Kendall from giving Jonathan Schoop more starts at second base.

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