LAS VEGAS - Ryan Meisinger was driving from his Richmond, Va., home to Baltimore on Monday morning when he received a phone call from an Orioles official. He had no idea that it would change the direction of his trip and his life.
Tripp Norton, the club’s director of baseball operations, alerted Meisinger that he had been placed on waivers, with the Orioles hoping to sneak him through and keep him in the organization, but the Cardinals put in a claim.
“Then, probably two minutes later after we got off that phone call, the Cardinals called me,” Meisinger said. “I had no clue at all.”
The Orioles invited Meisinger to appear yesterday at their annual holiday party for kids at Dave & Busters at Arundel Mills Mall. The Maryland native was supposed to serve food to students from The Commodore John Rodgers School, joining teammates Chris Davis and David Hess, and play games with them.
Meisinger also was supposed to attend a corporate sales function with Jimmy Yacabonis, but his plans changed with one phone call.
Back in his car yesterday morning, this time alone, Meisinger drove to Richmond and returned to the gym for another round of offseason workouts. He’ll report to the spring training complex in Jupiter rather than Sarasota. He’ll trade in his orange and black for red.
“It was kind of mixed emotions at first just because I’m from Maryland and grew up an Orioles fan,” said Meisinger, who had Hess and Yacabonis as passengers on the first leg of the trip. “I obviously have a lot of good relationships within that organization. I understand that a lot of things are changing now, but I think the biggest thing for me was just having so much family close by.
“That was probably the most special part for me because my grandparents are getting a little older and not able to travel as much, so it was easy for them to come see me play. But after I thought about it, St. Louis has been known as one of the best organizations in baseball for a really, really long time and I’m just excited for the new opportunity for me.”
An 11th-round pick in 2015 out of Radford University, Meisinger posted a 6.43 ERA and 1.333 WHIP in 18 games with the Orioles. However, the numbers must be weighed against an emergency start on Sept. 26 at Fenway Park in the first game of a doubleheader, when he surrendered five runs in one-third of an inning in a 19-3 loss to the Red Sox.
Meisinger didn’t allow a run in seven of his nine appearances in September. The start put a huge dent in his body of work.
“I understand it’s a business and I understand that I might not fit the new GM’s mold of what he wants as a reliever,” Meisinger said, “but I also think if you take my one start out of those numbers, then I feel like I proved that I can pitch at this level and stay at this level.”
Meisinger, who made his major league debut on June 29 against the Angels at Camden Yards, no longer will be pitching for a team coming off a 115-loss season and diving deep into a rebuild. The odds posted yesterday at the Mandalay Bay Sports Book had the Orioles at 200/1 to win the World Series.
The Cardinals just traded for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and are moving in the other direction. Sort of like Meisinger’s car.
Finding a spot in the bullpen could be more challenging with a contender, a possibility that hasn’t escaped him. Meisinger has run all of the pros and cons through his head.
“I’m sure that I’ll get used to the Cardinals culture when I get through spring training with them,” he said. “I’m excited to see the differences and everything.
“Obviously, the Orioles haven’t been doing as well as they wanted the past couple of years, but also going through that rebuilding process is a good spot for younger players and opportunities. But, yeah, it will be a lot of fun to compete for a World Series in St. Louis.”