Orioles open their latest minicamp

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles begin their latest minicamp this morning, the third year in a row that it’s being held at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. How time flies.

In January 2015, Mark Hendrickson talked about his latest comeback attempt while attending his second minicamp in three years.

“I’m a grandfather, for goodness sake, and that was two months ago,” Hendrickson said. “Now there’s extra motivation. How many active grandfathers have been in the big leagues? Well, that right there is motivation in itself.”

Hendrickson failed to make the club and remains out of baseball after announcing his retirement.

ed smith stadium.jpgAlso during last year’s minicamp, the Orioles reached agreement with reliever Tommy Hunter on a $4.65 million deal to avoid arbitration, and he talked about his desire to sign an extension. He’s currently a free agent.

I spent the first day updating the Orioles’ negotiations with outfielder Colby Rasmus, who signed with the Astros and accepted their qualifying offer this winter. Catcher Michael Ohlman was working out at the facility, but the Orioles traded him a month later.

Knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa was a late addition to the camp roster last year. He’s currently a minor league free agent. The Orioles invited outfielder Alex Hassan so they could check on his recovery from sports hernia surgery. They lost him on a waiver claim the following month.

News broke last year at minicamp that the Orioles signed former Yankees left-hander Cesar Cabral. They re-signed him this winter.

Reliever Ryan Webb was an unexpected visitor to camp and talked about how much weight he lost with a healthier diet. The Orioles designated him for assignment before opening day and traded him to the Dodgers.

Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia threw for Showalter, pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti, and he’ll do the same this week. He’s expected to open the 2016 season at Double-A Bowie.

“That’s a pretty good delivery there, boys,” Showalter said on Jan. 12. “That’s one thing we liked about him. He’s got a clean delivery. It’s effortless.

“I wanted to see if the delivery was as clean as it was on tape. That’s a pretty good arm right there. It’s going to be fun to watch him.”

Hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh was at minicamp last year. His new assistant, Mark Quinn, will be at the complex this week.

Showalter was impressed with Double-A reliever Mychal Givens, who showed off his lower arm slot during a bullpen session. Givens raised his stock with the Baysox, posted a 1.80 ERA in 22 appearances with the Orioles and is expected to break camp with the team.

Showalter gave the media an unexpected gem by stating that Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon wouldn’t be invited to spring training. Yoon didn’t take it well, refused to report to the minor league complex and was let out of his contract so he could return home. No big loss.

The highlight of last year’s minicamp was the arrival of third baseman Manny Machado on the final day. He ran the bases, fielded ground balls hit directly to him and kept insisting that he’d be full-go in spring training.

“It’s been a while since I felt this healthy and good,” Machado said on Jan. 14. “My body feels great, my mind is clear. I’m excited to get back out there. I’m itching, actually. I haven’t been itching like this for spring training since my first year of pro ball. Just excited to get the season rolling.”

Machado put up career highs across the board, won his second Gold Glove and finished fourth in Most Valuable Player voting in the American League.

Two years ago, the Orioles signed outfielder Delmon Young and reliever Alfredo Aceves at minicamp. I spotted Young’s name plate above a locker and put my reporter instincts to work.

The Orioles re-signed Young last winter and released him on July 9. He never played another game.

Aceves opted out of his contract after learning on the final day of spring training that he wouldn’t break camp with the team. He signed a minor league deal with the Yankees, was designated for assignment in June and suspended 50 games for a second positive test for a drug of abuse.

Aceves signed a minor league deal with the Giants last spring. They assigned him to Sultanes de Monterrey of the Mexican League, and he was suspended for the season following an altercation with an umpire. More abuse.

Such a fun guy. Would love to have him around, as long as the Orioles tighten security.

This year’s minicamp roster consists of Garcia, Givens, Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey, C.J. Riefenhauser, Jeff Beliveau, Parker Bridwell, Joe Gunkel, Donnie Hart, David Hess, Chris Lee, Ariel Miranda, Tanner Scott, Ashur Tolliver and Andrew Triggs, and catchers Chris O’Brien and Jonah Heim.

Vance Worley indicated that he would attend before changing his mind. Minor league catcher Francisco Pena also declined, apparently believing that you do get a second chance to make a first impression.

A few veterans will be spotted at the facility. Miguel Gonzalez has been working out here. Chris Tillman dropped by last year, though he didn’t throw.

Bundy and Harvey will garner most of the attention today. They’re the top two prospects in the organization and they need to stay healthy. There have been concerns that Harvey will need elbow surgery. He can go a long way this week toward easing any worries.

Scott was throwing 100 mph in the Arizona Fall League. He may not dial it up here, but my guess is he’ll still be popping the catcher’s mitt.

The Orioles have lost too many young arms over the past few years. They need to hold onto Scott and continue his development. Showalter probably would be the first to agree.

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