LeBlanc turned 35 years old in August. Chris Davis celebrates his 34th birthday next month.
There’s no debating which player is the senior member of a rebuilding club.
“I’m definitely the oldest,” LeBlanc said this morning, clearing up any confusion. “I’ve got him beat. He’s got more time, but I’ve got him beat in age.”
The next competition is going to require more effort. Joining the starting rotation, or at least heading north for opening day, after he agreed to terms on a minor league contract.
“Anytime you’re signing a non-roster deal that you have to come in and compete for a job, it’s definitely appealing when there appears to be a good opportunity to make the team, assuming that you take care of your business in the spring,” LeBlanc said.
“That’s priority No. 1 for me, but mainly seeing all these young guys, man, it’s really an exciting time for them and it’s interesting to be a part of that and try to help them along in that process.”
Age is just a number, but for LeBlanc, it represents how he’s been deemed worthy of getting jobs in the majors. The Orioles are his eighth team.
“It’s good in a way,” he said. “You want to be the youngest, but it kind of shows that you have staying power. Again, I’ve got to do my part and make this team to be able to say that I can stay, but it’s good to be able to look back and realize that you’ve played this long and you’ve been able to stay healthy for this long. Hopefully we can keep it moving.”
Asked what he brings to the Orioles, LeBlanc said, “Experience, reliability. Just being able to put my name in Sharpie.
“I know that I’m going to be able to take the ball and stay healthy, keep my nose clean, help the guys coming up behind me. That sort of stuff.”
LeBlanc has experience in the rotation and bullpen. The Orioles view him as a starting candidate, with only two spots secured.
“Goal No. 1 is to make the team,” he said. “So whatever they need me to do, wherever they need me to be, that’s what I’m here for.”
What about choosing a team that plays in a ballpark known for being downright cruel to pitchers?
“Did you see the home run totals from last year? There’s not many places that are pitcher-friendly anymore,” he said.
“You can take the stadiums with a grain of salt. Fans are good, park has aged as well as any stadium there’s ever been. It’s one of my favorite places to go, it’s one of my favorite stadiums to play in. Just got to keep the ball down.”
Sounds like solid advice, the kind that he can dispense to the young pitchers in camp.
LeBlanc is a good role model for other left-handers, including prospect Zac Lowther, who can get outs minus a blazing fastball.
“There’s a fine line between hitting guys over the head with stuff they don’t want to hear and being available,” LeBlanc said. “So that’s kind of the line you try to walk as a guy who’s been through it, and you let them know that anytime they have anything or want to run something by anybody, you’re here. That’s what the experience is there for, but again, I’m not going to bang anybody over the head with it. If they have any questions I’m definitely open to giving them my experiences.”
* Eighteen pitchers are slated for bullpen sessions today, including Brady Rodgers, who didn’t throw yesterday due to some arm soreness.
The group reads as follows: Paul Fry, Tanner Scott, Alex Cobb, Chandler Shepherd, Miguel Castro, Branden Kline, Bruce Zimmermann, Rob Zastryzny, Kohl Stewart, David Hess, Cody Carroll, Rodgers, Ty Blach, Hunter Cervenka, Tom Eshelman, Marcos Diplán, Dillon Tate and Cristian Alvarado.