Duquette on starting pitching, his contract and more

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, appearing at today’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center, said he’s confident that he can add a couple of starting pitchers and is setting March 1 as sort of a deadline to do it.

“They’re going to need three or four weeks to get ready, so it would be important to get somebody signed up three or four weeks from the start of the season,” Duquette said. “So if you work back from the 29th of March, I think March 1 is the date we’d be looking at. So we’ve got a little bit more time, but it’s getting to that time of year where you need to add to your team.”

“Obviously, we have work to do to address some of the deficiencies on our ballclub,” Duquette added. “We’re going to continue to build our pitching staff, notably the starting pitching. Even though (Zach) Britton will be out for a period of time, I still like the strength of our bullpen. I like our infield. Very talented group of infielders we have. I like our outfield, some of the young guys who emerged last year. Notably (Trey) Mancini and (Austin) Hays. They should be able to help us. And we’ve got a couple young guys on the horizon, too, in DJ Stewart and Cedric Mullins that could help us internally.

“So the key will be addressing the starting pitching and if we can do that, and I’m confident we can - don’t ask me how exactly - but if we can do that we can have another good season.”

dan-duquette-mlb-network.jpgDuquette didn’t give a specific reason why the club has been unable to acquire pitching. He talked up Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and guys chosen in the Rule 5 draft.

“We’re not going to stop there,” he said. “We’re going to continue to look for some veteran starting pitchers to solidify our ballclub. There are some pitchers available and I’m confident we’ll be able to sign some pitchers between now and when we open. And we’ll take our shot.”

The club remains in the market for a veteran catcher and left-handed hitting outfielder. And Duquette said he’d like to remain in the organization beyond the 2018 season.

“The Orioles gave me an opportunity to re-establish myself in Major League Baseball, which I really appreciated,” he said. “I’d like to continue that. I enjoy the fans in Baltimore, I enjoy working in the organization and I appreciate the opportunity Mr. (Peter) Angelos gave me.”

As reported earlier, Manny Machado will play shortstop and Tim Beckham is moving to third base.

“Our three most productive players last year were (Jonathan) Schoop, Manny and Beckham, and with the shifting that we do in the infield, we do a lot of position shifting with those three,” Duquette said. “The position shifting allows us to leverage the strength of each of those players. So our goal is to have a good defensive team and the strongest defensive team that we can have and those guys will be a key part of that defensive team.”

Duquette was asked again about Machado and Schoop missing FanFest. He didn’t mention to possibility of any repercussions.

“Obviously, we’d like to have all our players here,” he said. “We’ve had communication with our guys and we tell them the importance of being here. The fans would like to see them. And Jon in particular. He was our Player of the Year. We encourage our guys to be here and we’d like for them to be here. I’m encouraged we have a number of our guys here to represent our club. Manny and Schoop are among the best players on our club and we’re looking forward to having them on our ballclub.

“I know our fans are disappointed and the club is disappointed that all the players aren’t here, but like I said, we’ve been in communication with them and we stressed the importance of it.”

Duquette said he “hopes” Machado is on the opening day roster. Still listening to trade offers, still underwhelmed by them.

Duquette also said Hunter Harvey could contribute, but he has to show the team that he’s healthy.

Britton underwent another exam on his right Achilles and said he’s a little ahead of schedule. He’ll be examined again on Feb. 9 before rehabbing at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.

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