SARASOTA, Fla. - So much for easing into the mini-camp schedule.
Yesterday was supposed to be a light day, with players trickling into the complex. Who knew that the Orioles would sign Delmon Young to a minor league contract and invite Jack Cust for a workout this week?
Dylan Bundy provided an update on his throwing program and targeted June 28 as his first competitive game. Manager Buck Showalter confirmed that Manny Machado wouldn’t be here, but might be cleared for baseball activities after having his left knee examined Thursday in Los Angeles. And we learned that the agent for Mark Reynolds contacted the Orioles, who only appeared to have minimal interest before signing Young.
Only two reporters who cover the Orioles are in Sarasota this week, and we spent most of yesterday in the media workroom or watching players stretch, run and throw on one of the practice fields. We were invited into the clubhouse and Showalter’s office late in the day, but interviews with Bundy and Matt Wieters were held in the parking lot.
The formalities arrive today, along with more players. The clubhouse will be open to the media from 10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m., and again after the workout. It will have more of a spring training feel, though the clubhouse generally opens a few hours earlier.
The Orioles seemed in a rush to sign Young yesterday after news broke that he had been invited to the mini-camp. I was told that a few issues needed to be “resolved,” and it happened before I could head out to dinner.
Young will receive $1 million if he makes the team, and he could earn another $750,000 in incentives, as CBSSports.com reported last night.
It would be a surprise if he doesn’t break camp with the Orioles, who like the idea of having him face left-handers as their designated hitter. They obviously did their homework on Young, who’s been involved in a few controversies.
Young was suspended three games in 2005 for bumping a Double-A umpire, and 50 games in 2006 for flipping his bat underhanded after being ejected and striking a Triple-A umpire on the chest and arm.
Young was arrested in April 2012 for aggravated harassment after the New York police department reported that he yelled an anti-Semitic slur while he was intoxicated. He issued an apology and was released on $5,000 bail. Major League Baseball suspended Young for seven days without pay and ordered him to undergo counseling.
The Rays know Young as well as any team, and they chose to sign him to a minor league deal in August after the Phillies designated him for assignment. The Orioles took note and are confident that he’s learned from his mistakes and he will blend nicely in their clubhouse.
It’s a minor league deal. Not a huge risk. They can easily cut ties if it doesn’t work out.
Cust also could sign a minor league deal, but keep in mind that he contacted the Orioles and they’ve agreed only to give him a tryout. He hasn’t played in the majors since 2011. He’d have to make quite an impression.
Henry Urrutia spent a considerable amount of time shagging fly balls yesterday, but he’s more likely to make the club as a left-handed designated hitter. Cust would have to beat him out if he earns a minor league contract.
Who is most impacted by Young’s signing? Well, it’s difficult to envision Young, Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce and Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar co-existing on the 25-man roster. And the odds are really stacked against Almanzar now that Alexi Casilla signed a minor league deal.
Casilla can play third base, which is Almanzar’s primary position. He’s also a middle infielder, which isn’t in Almanzar’s skill set. Ryan Flaherty could play third if Machado isn’t ready on opening day, with Casilla starting at second or backing up.
I have no idea how the Orioles intend to carry Almanzar all season, or how he makes it out of spring training without an injury or a trade involving one or more of his competitors.
Going back to Bundy, it was encouraging to watch him throw from 60 feet and talk about his goal of pitching competitively by late June. It was important for the Orioles to adjust his offseason workout routine.
“I really like the way his rehab’s going,” Showalter said. “I think he’s going to make it (by June). We’re at the point now where he’s doing baseball activities, throwing. But it’s not like it’s a given. Even when he was healthy, he wasn’t a finished product. But I look forward to him being a viable option for us in July.”