SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles held their first workout for pitchers and catchers - and the assorted position players who reported early - exactly one week ago.
So much has happened since that morning.
Yoon will be the first Korean-born player to suit up for the Orioles. Jimenez is the first free agent pitcher from outside the organization to sign for four years.
Big deals in more ways than one.
Miguel Gonzalez’s back tightened Saturday while he covered first base in a rundown drill, and he didn’t throw off a mound until yesterday. It wasn’t serious, but it warranted daily updates from the media.
The Orioles claimed utility player Jimmy Paredes off waivers from the Marlins, the news breaking on Twitter while manager Buck Showalter chatted with reporters. The timing wasn’t ideal, but it did allow reporters to get instant confirmation.
Two days later, the Orioles designated Paredes for assignment to create room for Yoon on the 40-man roster, and the Royals claimed him. Paredes never made it into camp.
Another one bit the roster dust yesterday, with the Orioles designating pitcher Liam Hendriks to create room for Jimenez.
Hendriks was more than just a name in a transaction. I had the chance to interview him at last month’s mini-camp and pegged him as one of the nicest guys in baseball. He likes to talk, is extremely pleasant and approachable, and figured to be one of those go-to guys if he made it back to the bigs.
You may recall his previous connections to the Orioles.
Hendriks was scratched from an April 2012 start at Camden Yards after coming down with a severe case of food poisoning. He was supposed to work the finale of a three-game season-opening series for the Twins. Long reliever Anthony Swarzak took his place.
In the final spring training game of 2013, Brian Roberts hit a line drive up the middle in the third inning that struck Hendriks on the right hand. Luckily, he escaped with only a bruise and swollen pinkie finger.
Who started for the Twins in the Orioles’ home opener that year? Hendriks, of course.
In April 2009, Orioles outfield prospect Kieron Pope was running out a ground ball during a minor league spring training game at Twin Lakes Park. He crossed first base and snapped his right femur, the sound emulating a broken bat.
Which pitcher was warming up in the opposing bullpen and heard the bone break? Hendriks, of course.
Hendriks joked about the Orioles being determined to have an Australian pitcher on the team after the Grant Balfour deal fell apart. I guess it just wasn’t meant to happen.
Jimenez will be introduced to the media today at 9:30 a.m., and his press conference will air live on MASN HD. Later in the day, Yoon will throw his first bullpen session with the Orioles.
Yoon is trying to catch up with the other pitchers in camp and adjust his body clock. He’d normally have started spring training in mid-January in South Korea.
Tad Hun Yo, the agent who doubled as Yoon’s interpreter until today, expects his client to compete hard for a spot in the rotation. However, he also understands if the Orioles choose to option Yoon to Triple-A Norfolk, which would give the right-hander additional time to get ready.
Yo figures that, if Yoon pitches well in camp, the Orioles will find a spot for him despite the Jimenez signing. If he isn’t sharp after the layoff, he can work his way up from the International League.
The Orioles will need Yoon’s approval to option him in 2015 and 2016. It was smart to exclude that clause in 2014, given the late date that he agreed to terms.