Showalter on Tillman’s side session, outfield defense (updated)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Outfielder Colby Rasmus is taking his physical in Sarasota today and his minor league deal won’t be announced until the Orioles have the results in hand.

Update: The Orioles announced the deal. Rasmus increases the camp total to 63 players.

Rasmus opened the 2017 season on the Rays disabled list following surgery on his left hip and he developed tendinitis in June.

The Orioles must be convinced that his head is all right.

The Rays placed Rasmus on the restricted list in July for personal reasons, but he wants to resume a career that began when the Cardinals made him the 28th overall pick in the 2005 draft.

While playing for the Astros in 2016, Rasmus was diagnosed with an ear condition called cholesteatoma that causes growths to appear behind the eardrum. He went on the disabled in August while mired in a 3-for-66 slump.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette has been searching for a left-handed hitting outfielder to platoon in right field and back up in center. The club wanted a plus defender, which eliminated many of the free agents on the market.

Showalter-With-Fungo-Sidebar.jpg“That’s a big part of it,” said manager Buck Showalter. “That’s an area we want to get better at and get back to.

“That was a challenge for us. We want to get better there. We also want to have better depth to give Adam (Jones) some time. It’s something that was really a challenge for us. I don’t want guys playing because we don’t have somebody else.”

Showalter had to perform the same dance around Rasmus as he did with Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman in previous media sessions. He acted as though the questions pertained to Alex Presley, signed to a minor league deal earlier this week.

“Am I losing credibility at this point?” he asked.

Tillman’s one-year deal became official today and he had a side session alongside Dylan Bundy.

“I’m no more happy than he is,” Showalter said. “It’s like knowing what he’s capable of doing is exciting. To add him and have it fit in a lot of other areas. So good to see him out. I don’t think there was anybody happier about it than him today. Finally gets some closure on where he’s going to be pitching this year.”

The Orioles have been watching Tillman work out at the complex and are convinced that he can reverse a disastrous 2017 season.

“He was capable of having an offseason that he had before he had those years,” Showalter said. “This was the track record he followed and having people that know him and know when it’s right and when it’s not medically and physically, people that you trust, that made it a lot more ...

“What do they say? Familiarity can breed contempt. Familiarity can also bring comfort, kind of knowing what you can potentially get. It’s not like Chris is 35 years old. He’s 29. I can tell you that the work day he had today, he couldn’t do it this time last year.

“I know what was going on this time last year and it wasn’t that. You could tell just by his body language and face that he wasn’t there. You want to feel like you’re on your way to the end game. I don’t think he felt mentally last year that he was on his way to the end game. He’s where he needs to be in the process now. Last year, he wasn’t.”

Catcher Andrew Susac was released from the hospital yesterday and returned to the Ed Smith Stadium complex. Susac was treated for a staph infection.

Showalter said it will be at least a couple more days before Susac can resume working out.

The intrasquad game on Thursday has been moved up to 12:30 p.m. Most of the regulars will miss it because Showalter doesn’t want to play them three days in a row and he’s got Friday’s exhibition opener and Saturday’s split-squad games.

“Get some looks at some people that, as spring goes on, the looks may go away,” Showalter said. “I was just finishing up the lineups last night and tweaking a little bit before I came down here, so I have a pretty good idea who’s going to play.”

David Hess, Yefry Ramírez and Michael Kelly are scheduled to pitch in the intrasquad game. The Orioles will bring over a couple of infielders from minor league camp.

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