Orioles sign Wilkerson to minor league contract

The news that the Orioles released Stevie Wilkerson on Sept. 14 came with an important attachment.

The move was procedural, with Wilkerson unable to return from a fractured ring finger on his left hand and the team needing an open spot in its 60-man player pool. The Orioles would continue to monitor his recovery. They would retain interest in him.

Re-signing Wilkerson before he hit the free agent market was presented as a strong possibility.

It became a reality yesterday, according to an industry source, with Wilkerson agreeing to a minor league deal.

Wilkerson received a split contract and an invitation to spring training.

The return of "Dr. Poo Poo" figures to be popular inside the clubhouse and among a large portion of the fan base. And Wilkerson will be given a legitimate chance to make the club in a super-utility role.

Wilkerson-Martin-Celebrate-Outstanding-Catch-Gray-Sidebar.jpgHe stepped out of the competition on July 19 after fracturing his finger while making a diving catch in right field to rob Jean Segura in an exhibition game in Philadelphia. The injury was termed "boutonniere deformity," with the joint nearest the knuckle bent toward the palm and the farthest joint bent back.

"It looks as weird as it sounds," Wilkerson said in an August interview with MASNsports.com, adding that the injury and prolonged recovery period brought him to tears for a couple of days.

Wilkerson, 28, was gaining confidence that he'd make it back on the 40-man roster for opening day. Now he'll get another opportunity in Sarasota, Fla., where he recently bought a house with his wife, Vanessa.

The utility competition will evolve over time, but figures to include Pat Valaika, who appeared in 52 games this year and played six positions. Richie Martin is expected to make a full recovery from the fractured wrist sustained in an intrasquad game at summer training camp.

Ramón Urías made a nice late impression and Andrew Velazquez could stay in the mix. And there will be others.

How many utility players are carried on the roster depends on its size. Expansion is possible again in 2021.

Wilkerson appeared in 117 games in 2019 and made starts at all three outfield positions and second base. He also made four emergency relief appearances and became the first position player in history to record a save during a July 25 game in Anaheim.

The resume also includes games played at the other three infield positions, and he's worked out behind the plate.

Looking forward to a return to normal
Cluff makes plate adjustments to take advantage of...

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