SARASOTA, Fla. - Unless there’s a late change in plans, the Orioles intend to summon Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia from minor league camp and give him some at-bats in Friday afternoon’s game against State College of Florida at Ed Smith Stadium.
Urrutia has one more paper to sign, according to a team official, before he’s allowed to play in the game.
Hopefully, it’s not in Haiti.
Urrutia, who finally received his work visa and flew into Miami in late February, has appeared in four minor league games after being restricted to batting practice and fielding drills. He collected two hits yesterday and made a nice play in right field.
The Orioles reached agreement with Urrutia on a $778,500 bonus last summer, but he was stuck in Haiti while waiting for his visa. The club wanted to assign him to Double-A Bowie, but he may start out with a lower-level affiliate this season because of the long layoff.
Urrutia batted .397/.461/.597 with 12 homers, 32 walks and 23 strikeouts in 305 at-bats in his final season in Cuba. He played for Las Tunas in the Cuban League from 2006 to 2010 and batted .350 with 72 doubles, nine triples, 33 home runs, 219 RBIs and 209 runs. He also represented Cuba in the 2010 World Championships.
The outfielder didn’t play in 2011 due to a suspension after an unsuccessful attempt at defection. He’s got a lot of catching up to do.
Maybe he’ll catch a fly ball on Friday. Good luck with the wind.
Manager Buck Showalter figures to rest his regulars on Friday after consecutive night games, which presents a nice opportunity for Urrutia and other players at Twin Lakes Park.