I wrote last week that Hyun Soo Kim’s participation in the World Baseball Classic wasn’t a certainty despite his inclusion on South Korea’s early roster. Now comes word that manager Kim In-sik is considering possible replacements for Kim and the Rangers’ Shin-soo Choo.
In a story that appeared yesterday in Yohhap News Agency, Korea’s manager indicated that the Orioles could steer Kim away from the WBC because they want the outfielder in camp for the duration of spring training.
“It’s really not up to us,” Kim In-sik said. “But I think Kim may be worried that he might get caught up in an awkward position with the club if he forces his way to play at the WBC.”
Manager Buck Showalter won’t prevent anyone from playing in the WBC, including the other four Orioles who made early commitments - Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Mychal Givens. However, he’d naturally prefer to have everyone in camp, and Kim could benefit from staying on schedule as he tries to expand his role of platoon left fielder.
Enough has been written about Kim’s 2016 spring training, including the 0-for-23 start and his refusal to accept a minor league assignment. But it will linger in the Florida air as position players report next month.
Givens most likely presents the biggest WBC worry for the Orioles because he’s a pitcher and, the thinking goes, more at risk of injury. Kim’s participation would have been a bigger mistake last spring because he was new to the U.S. and getting acclimated to more than just baseball.
* There hasn’t been any buzz surrounding free agent outfielder Nolan Reimold. His name hasn’t been attached to any teams as we’ve moved past the holidays, which sets him up to be one of the later signings.
The Phillies are believed to have some interest that could intensify later in the offseason, but nothing that’s currently hot. They reportedly want to add another bat, but are considering some of the bigger fish on the market.
Meanwhile, it appears that the Orioles haven’t reached out to his agent as they continue to sift through available outfielders, including ones that could be obtained in a trade. I’m hesitant to state that a ship definitely has sailed, since so much can change in this game, but it seems unlikely that Reimold will return to the Orioles.
Never say never, but doubtful is allowed.
Reimold, 33, no longer should be subjected to the same old injury “jokes.” He’s been healthy since undergoing corrective surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his neck prior to the 2014 season. He may have to settle for a minor league deal and earn a spot on an opening day roster, but it’s also possible that a team searching for a right-handed bat could get aggressive as more names come off the board. We’ll see.
* I’ve devoted space in this blog to questioning whether the Orioles should deal from an area of strength and part with a reliever. It may be their best route to finding a right fielder.
I’d be hesitant to part with Brad Brach despite the depth in their bullpen. He’s extremely valuable, still a bargain and may be in line to close if the Orioles part with Zach Britton before the left-hander hits free agency following the 2018 season. Or if Britton isn’t re-signed. But plenty of teams are trying to fortify their bullpens and could match up with the Orioles.
It must be considered. But the Orioles couldn’t afford for Darren O’Day to be injured again - he went on the disabled list twice last season - or for left-handers to hit .366 against Givens. And Logan Ondrusek likely would have to emerge as a suitable replacement after the Orioles re-signed him to a one-year deal with a club option.
Left-handers were 6-for-11 with three doubles and a home run against Ondrusek, but the Orioles are confident that he can make the necessary adjustments.
* We’re five days into the New Year and still nothing from the Orioles regarding their minor league hires.
Everyone is in place, from what I’ve heard, and it’s just a matter of releasing the names.
John Wasdin is the new minor league pitching coordinator, if that’s the exact title given to him. He’s replacing director of pitching development Rick Peterson.
Wasdin, 44, previously served as pitching coach of the Double-A Midland Rockhounds in the Athletics organization. The Orioles signed him as a free agent on June 11, 2001 and traded him to the Phillies on Dec. 13 for pitcher Chris Brock. You’re a diehard fan if you remember that transaction.
(Brock closed his major league career by appearing in 22 games with the Orioles in 2002 and going 2-1 with a 4.70 ERA.)
Wasdin pitched in Boston while Dan Duquette was general manager and in Texas while Showalter was manager. He carries an outstanding reputation.
Got any questions for the dynamic duo? Pass them along.
Gausman probably will need to address again how he’s expected to “take the next step.” You couldn’t read a story about Gausman last winter and spring without stumbling across that phrase. I was one of the contributors.
Gausman was 6-2 with a 2.67 ERA and 1.107 WHIP in 12 starts at Camden Yards and 3-10 with a 4.32 ERA and 1.412 WHIP in 18 road starts. No sense waiting to bring up that topic again.
Bundy will be asked about his health despite having no issues last season while totaling 109 2/3 innings. May as well get that one out of the way, too.