The utility job in Baltimore remains open to a cluster of in-house competitors and the anticipated outsider, the latter’s identity remaining a mystery. The Orioles seem to have targeted a specific player. The challenge is getting him under contract.
Is it more important than finding three starting pitchers? Not even close. But it’s still important. Every team has that guy on its roster. More of them are stressing the expansion of skills to include outfield play, especially if willing to go with a short bench.
Another free agent came off the board yesterday when Ryan Goins, non-tendered by the Blue Jays, agreed to a minor league deal with the Royals. A versatile left-handed hitter. The right fit for the Orioles, as I kept pointing out to anyone who would listen, including manager Buck Showalter.
Goins had his share of supporters in the organization, but I don’t know whether the Orioles made him an offer.
With Goins settling for a minor league contract, is former Orioles utility infielder Ryan Flaherty headed for the same fate after making $1.8 million last season?
It doesn’t appear that Flaherty is close to signing with anyone as the market continues to move at a sluggish pace. I haven’t heard the Orioles mentioned as a possibility and they’d need to know that his shoulder would allow him to make the throws at shortstop, which he couldn’t do last season.
* Two former Orioles were elected to the Hall of Fame last night in Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero. They won’t be wearing the cap on their plaques.
Thome and Guerrero ended their respective careers in Baltimore, giving us only glimpses of their former greatness. Thome appeared in 28 games in 2012, batted .257/.348/.396 with five doubles, three home runs and 10 RBIs in 115 plate appearances and went on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his neck. Guerrero appeared in 145 games in 2011 and batted .290/.317/.416 with 30 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs and 63 RBIs in 590 plate appearances.
Guerrero legged out a triple in five of his last six seasons, so it was bound to happen with the Orioles.
My most vivid memory of covering Guerrero was watching him enter the clubhouse at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota for his first day of spring training. It was like tracking the movements of a rock star. He brought his entourage and teammates seemed to be in awe of him, staring at a baseball legend and still coming to grips with the idea of playing on the same team.
Also set for induction this summer are Chipper Jones and Trevor Hoffman. Edgar Martinez received 70.4 percent of the votes to fall short of the required 75 percent.
Former Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina received 63.5 percent, an increase from 51.8 percent last year. He’s trending in the right direction and could join Martinez next summer.
Mussina’s speech may be the shortest and most boring in Hall of Fame history, but it needs to be done.
No votes for former Oriole Aubrey Huff. A travesty as he falls off the ballot. But seriously ...
I made my ballot public a while ago so it could be included on the @NotMrTibbs tracker. I chose Guerrero, Thome, Hoffman, Jones, Martinez, Mussina, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Larry Walker.
Only Schilling actually caused me to throw up a little in my mouth, but his idiocy that’s shared on social media wasn’t reason to exclude him. I did last year while including reliever Billy Wagner, but I reversed them after much deliberation. Wagner probably will regain my vote next year.
I avoided Bonds and Clemens until last winter, finally deciding that I no longer could play judge and jury in the steroid era. Finding where to draw the line has grown increasingly difficult. A failed test or two? Inclusion in a report? An expanded hat size? A more pronounced launch angle in home runs and temperment?
Whispers and pointed fingers - at least the ones not attached to Rafael Palmeiro - must be ignored. And I’ll always feel bad for Palmeiro and a Hall of Fame that doesn’t include a member of the exclusive 3,000-hit, 500-home run club. Same for the all-time hits leader.
There’s no perfect ballot despite fan claims to the contrary. Agree or disagree with Bonds and Clemens. The debate rages on and I’m prepared to deal with it again.
* Chris and Jill Davis are the proud parents of twin girls Evie and Grace, born early Tuesday morning in Texas.
They join big sister Ella in a household that, as Chris noted, must switch from a man-to-man to a zone.
No word on whether Davis will be able to attend FanFest Saturday at the Baltimore Convention Center. He wasn’t included in the club’s announcement due to the pending arrival of his daughters.
Shameless plug alert: I’ll be busy today with “MASN All-Access” at 3 p.m. and the “Orioles Hot Stove Show” from 6-7 p.m. inside the Orioles Grille at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel.
Bench coach John Russell, hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, pitchers Jimmy Yacabonis and Donnie Hart and outfielders Joey Rickard and Austin Hays will join us at the Sheraton. But they’ll have to work in shifts.