Orioles release Cust, LaPorta, five others from minor league camp

Jack Cust's attempt at a comeback with the Orioles ended today when he was released by the club. He signed a minor league deal Feb. 5 and had been working out at the minor league camp at Twin Lakes Park.

Cust was one of seven players released today from minor league camp. The list included Matt LaPorta, a first-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007. The club also released right-handed pitchers Zach Staniewicz, Casey Upperman and Julio Rodriguez, left-handed pitcher Harry Marino and first baseman/outfielder Nik Balog.

The 35-year-old Cust last appeared in the majors in 2011 with the Seattle Mariners and was signed by the Orioles after a tryout at the pitcher's mini-camp in January in Sarasota.

Cust appeared in 27 games with the Orioles in 2003 and one in 2004, batting .257 with four homers and 11 RBIs. He went 0-for-1 in one major league spring training game.

The 29-year-old LaPorta had been signed to a minor league deal that did not include an invitation to major league camp. LaPorta, who did not play in the majors last season, spent 2009-2012 with the Cleveland Indians. In parts of those four seasons, he batted .238/.301/.393 with 31 homers and 120 RBIs in 291 games.

The 23-year-old Upperman went 0-4 with an ERA of 8.86 last season with Single-A Delmarva. The 2013 season was his only season in the O's organization.

The 28-year-old Staniewicz, who was attempting to convert to a knuckleball pitcher, went 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA over 32 innings last summer in the Gulf Coast League. The O's signed him as minor league free agent in January 2013.

Rodriguez, 23, was acquired by the Orioles in a trade with Philadelphia on March 24, 2013 for outfielder Ronnie Welty. Last year, he pitched for three different teams on the O's farm going 0-3 with a 9.43 ERA over 27 2/3 innings.

The 23-year-old Marino went 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA over 17 games and 25 innings last season between short-season Single-A Aberdeen and Delmarva. That was his only year pitching for the Orioles.

Balog, 24, was signed by the Orioles after the draft in June 2012 and he spent that year in the Gulf Coast League and last season with Delmarva. Over two years and 129 games in the organization, Balog hit a combined .286 with three homers and 42 RBIs.

More cuts are expected to come later from minor league camp.

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