Orioles release Henry Urrutia

The Orioles have released Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia, the final chapter to a feel-good story that didn’t bring a happy ending.

Urrutia was batting .175/.243/.254 with two doubles and a home run in 20 games with Triple-A Norfolk after reporting from extended spring training. He came off the 40-man roster last summer and fell further out of the Orioles’ long-term plans.

Urrutia, who turned 30 in February, signed with the Orioles in July 12, 2012 after defecting from Cuba and taking up residence in Haiti. He made his major league debut on July 20, 2013 in Texas, going 1-for-4 with an RBI.

urrutia-white-at-bat-sidebar.jpgAppearing in 24 games that year, Urrutia batted .276/.276/.310 with a triple and two RBIs in 58 at-bats. He didn’t get back to the majors until 2015 following sports hernia surgery and went 9-for-34 (.265) in 10 games, including his only home run, a walk-off against the Mets on Aug. 19 at Camden Yards.

An emotional Urrutia stood at his locker after the game, tears in his eyes, and talked about giving the baseball to his infant son.

The Orioles designated Urrutia for assignment on July 19, 2016 while selecting the contract of veteran outfielder Julio Borbon and outrighted him to Double-A Bowie.

“To all the fans and those who work with the Orioles, I am very grateful to everyone for the opportunity they gave me to start a career in the United States and thanks to the fans for the support,” Urrutia wrote in a text message.

Urrutia received a $779,000 signing bonus from the Orioles after playing for Las Tunas in the Cuban League from 2006-2010. He batted .350 (394-1127) with 72 doubles, nine triples, 33 home runs and 219 RBIs from age 19-23.

Urrutia also represented Cuba in the 2010 World Championships, but he didn’t play in 2011 as punishment for a failed attempt to defect.

Unable to speak English when he arrived in the U.S., Urrutia worked hard to learn the language and could handle interviews without an interpreter.

Meanwhile, veteran infielder Chris Johnson is making steady progress from a fractured right forearm and the Orioles hope he’s ready to play for Norfolk by the middle of June. The injury occurred on April 8 when Johnson was hit by a pitch from Charlotte’s Lucas Giolito.

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