SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are expected to announce later today that Nelson Cruz passed his physical and signed a one-year contract. I’d expect the press conference to be held on Tuesday.
In a related story, the Orioles are on the verge of shattering the record for most press conferences in one week.
Did you know that Ubaldo Jimenez and Alexi Casilla were Little League teammates?
Neither did I until manager Buck Showalter dropped that little nugget on reporters during one of his post-workout sessions. Casilla told him about it.
Showalter mentioned recently that an opposing manager used one of the Orioles’ plays during a game last season. Showalter looked toward the dugout, and the manager tipped his cap.
It’s the highest form of flattery, you know?
“That’s OK,” Showalter said. “I’ve stolen, too.”
There’s been some confusion over Wei-Yin Chen’s contract status, which led reporters to hunt down the information.
Chen is in the final guaranteed year of his three-year contract, but the Orioles hold a club option worth $4.75 million for 2015 with a $372,000 buyout. He will become a free agent if they decline to exercise it.
Baseball-Reference.com notes that Chen is arbitration-eligible in 2015 and can’t become a free agent until 2018, which is incorrect. It has something to do with him being a free agent in Taiwan before the Orioles signed him.
I had a fourth person tell me yesterday that the Orioles aren’t in on free agent pitcher Ervin Santana. If they are, it’s news to some folks who I’d expect to know about it.
I keep writing it and people keep asking me on Twitter whether the Orioles are going to sign him and whether I’m hearing any more whispers about it. All I can do is pass along what I’m hearing. If it’s wrong, I’ll own up to it and immediately begin making excuses.
How many people can I fit under one bus?
When the Orioles play their two intrasquad games this week, don’t look for pitchers to stay on the mound if they get three quick outs and fail to reach their pitch limit. That usually happens, but not with new pitching coach Dave Wallace.
“A lot of times you have a guy throw five pitches and get three outs and a lot of them will say, ‘Stay out there.’ Dave doesn’t believe in that,” Showalter said. “He’d rather the guy get out of there on a good note. That’s what he’s paid to do. And then if they need to throw more, they go to the bullpen.
“I’m sure everybody here is happy to hear that.”
Also, the Orioles aren’t as inclined this year to hide their starters from their division rivals in exhibition games. There may be fewer trips to Twin Lakes Park.
“Not a whole lot of secrets,” Showalter said. “You’ll probably see some of that toward the end of the spring, but early on, I don’t think we’re going to keep Chen from pitching against an American League East team. I think you’re defeating the end game there a little bit. Plus, the way the schedule’s set up, it’s imposible. We don’t have games going on in the minor leagues yet.”
Showalter could flip-flop starters to avoid using the same one in consecutive games against the same team.
The Boston Globe named Bobby Dickerson as one of the top five infield coaches in baseball, noting how he taught Manny Machado to play third base and improved Chris Davis at first.
Suk-min Yoon has pretty much worn the same Nike long-sleeved shirt each morning since he arrived at the Ed Smith Stadium complex to take his physical. Three theories:
1. He really likes the shirt.
2. He owns more than one and rotates them.
3. He packed lightly for his trip here because he expected to return home to South Korea to get his work visa.
Doesn’t really matter. Just a camp observation. But Nike should be all over it.
Just do it.
When I mentioned to a club official that David Lough’s body fat count is only 3 percent, he quipped, “That’s pretty impressive, but I guess he could get down to 1. Remove his organs.”
You may recall a while back that I mentioned how I’d bring up Ivan DeJesus’ costly error in Game 3 of the 1983 World Series when I had the chance to interview his son, non-roster infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. I wondered whether they talked about it, especially after DeJesus Jr. signed with the Orioles - the team that beat the Phillies for the organization’s last championship - as a minor league free agent.
“We don’t talk about his career that much,” said DeJesus Jr.
So much for that idea.
“We just talk about baseball, how we play the game, but we don’t talk a lot about his career,” DeJesus Jr. continued. “Just try to keep it private. We have a good relationship, but we don’t talk that much about that, about his career.”
The Orioles signed DeJesus Jr. shortly after the Winter Meetings. They had to beat out a few other teams that made a late push for him.
Why the Orioles?
“Just the opportunity,” he replied. “They always get players here. I was trying to get a team that gave me an opportunity like the Orioles. The other teams that were talking to me, they were good teams, but the best choice in that group was the Orioles. Me and my agent chose the Orioles because we think this is going to be a big year and there’s going to be a lot of chances this year.
“It didn’t happen the last few years, but I’ve been having a good spring training and there’s seven months in the season. It doesn’t have to be... I’d love to break with the team in spring training, but if it doesn’t happen, it can happen during the season. I’ve just got to keep working hard, doing my thing. And if I go to Triple-A, just wait for that call.”
Showalter has challenged reporters to name which fast food joint they’d choose if only allowed to make one stop. Chick-fil-A seems to be a popular choice, and Showalter is on board, but I’ve probably eaten there only once or twice my entire life.
I needed to know if the time of day or night factored into the decision, because if it’s 2 a.m. or later, I’m making a run for the border.