Orioles sign Gamboa and Clark to minor league deals

The Orioles announced this afternoon that they signed knuckleballers Eddie Gamboa and Zach Clark to minor league contracts. Gamboa has received an invitation to spring training.

Gamboa, 29, was 4-6 with a 3.64 ERA in 16 starts at Double-A Bowie and 2-5 with a 6.23 ERA in nine starts at Triple-A Norfolk. He’s 37-34 with a 3.37 ERA in six minor league seasons in the Orioles system.

The highlight for Gamboa last year was throwing a seven-inning no-hitter for Bowie on June 30 against Harrisburg.

The Orioles placed Gamboa on the 40-man roster on Nov. 20 before non-tendering him on Dec. 3. They basically had an agreement in place to re-sign him at a later date.

Gamboa pitched in Mexico this winter, going 3-4 with a 2.64 ERA in 11 starts.

Clark, 30, made his major league debut with the Orioles on May 1 in Seattle and allowed three runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings. The Orioles designated him for assignment three days later to make room for Freddy Garcia on the 25- and 40-man rosters.

Once Clark cleared waivers, the Orioles suggested that he learn how to throw a knuckleball.

Clark (UMBC) pitched at four levels of the farm system last year, going 3-15 with a 7.84 ERA in 25 games (24 starts). He was 1-7 with a 9.74 ERA in 10 starts at Single-A Frederick while going through the conversion to knuckleball pitcher.

“It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Clark told MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski in October. “I knew it was a challenge, but didn’t know how hard until I was going through it. It took me a while to get comfortable. As I got more comfortable, especially that last month in Frederick, I really started to figure out some things. I had a feel for it.

“I was able to pitch with it. A lot of times in games (earlier), I had no idea whether it would be a ball or strike and I had to really mesh my other stuff together. I had a lot of trouble combining the two - my conventional pitches and my knuckleball.”

Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro has been working with Gamboa and Clark and is expected to do so again in 2014.

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