The final items on my to-do list must be crossed off today. I’m running out of time before boarding my flight to Sarasota tomorrow morning for the start of spring training.
The Orioles don’t have any other players facing arbitration hearings, and they’re not expected to anger any other countries. It should be a slow day.
Speaking of lists, I’ll be sure to add Zach Britton’s name to the expanded story lines in spring training. He was going to be scrutinized anyway because he’s competing for a spot in the rotation, but his shoulder issues heighten the intrigue.
I’d be more concerned if the Orioles shut down Britton, rather than allowing him to play long toss today. However, it’s a concern that he continues to experience inflammation in the shoulder. Just as it was a concern that Jake Arrieta tried to pitch last season with a bone spur in his elbow and Brian Matusz strained something called an intercostal muscle.
The cavalry keeps getting thrown from its horses.
And speaking again of lists, I found one that I compiled for my final appearance on “O’s Xtra” in September. The topic was areas that the Orioles needed to address over the winter. I chose these four:
1. Frontline starting pitcher
2. Second baseman
3. Big bat for the middle of the order
4. A left fielder and possibly a third baseman (if Mark Reynolds stayed at first)
OK, that’s really five items, but I crammed them into four slots.
Well, the Orioles have added a ton of pitching, but nobody who really qualifies as a No. 1. They signed Matt Antonelli and Steve Tolleson and selected Ryan Flaherty in the Rule 5 draft to compete for the second base job if Brian Roberts goes back on the disabled list. No one in the group is a proven major league second baseman, but it probably won’t matter because Robert Andino likely will get the nod. None of the new bats are big. Nolan Reimold will get a chance to be the everyday left fielder, and Reynolds apparently will return to third base.
Next time, I’ll keep my lists to myself.
In case you missed it last night, left-hander Clay Rapada confirmed in a tweet that he’s been released by the Orioles. He suggested that several teams have expressed interest.
Yes, his name originally appeared in a list of transactions on CBSSports.com, in keeping with this morning’s theme.
Too bad the Orioles don’t have room in their bullpen for a lefty specialist. He’s a real weapon for a team with starters who pitch into the later innings. The Orioles don’t feel as though they can carry a one-and-done reliever. And Rapada hasn’t shown that he can retire right-handed hitters.
Baseball America’s list of minor league free-agent signings yesterday included reliever Greg Burke, who inked a deal with the Orioles that doesn’t include a spring training invitation.
Burke, 29, appeared in 48 games with the Padres in 2009 and went 3-3 with a 4.14 ERA. He spent last season with Triple-A Tucson, going 2-2 with a 5.70 ERA in 64 games.
The Padres signed Burke as an undrafted free agent out of Duke University in 2006.