It’s been pointed out that the Orioles acquired Russ Canzler the same day that Danny Valencia was named in a story about performance-enhancing drugs.
Valencia has vehemently denied involvement with Biogenesis, and says he has never used PEDs nor failed a drug test. Let’s hope it’s true.
Canzler and Valencia are essentially competing for the same position on the roster. Dan Duquette, the Orioles executive vice president for baseball operations likes that Canzler hits left-handed pitching well. He said the same thing when he picked up Valencia back in November.
Valencia is a third baseman, but if Manny Machado plays well, there’s no room for him there. He could get a turn at designated hitter. So could Canzler, who’s a first baseman.
The first base/designated hitter role is murky. The assumption is that Chris Davis enters spring training as the team’s first baseman even though he didn’t play much there after May. With Mark Reynolds’ departure and the Orioles’ not picking up a big name first baseman, signs point to Davis playing first.
Manager Buck Showalter has said he’d like Davis as his regular first baseman and even said one of the reasons he went through painful partial knee replacement surgery was to work with him in spring training.
While Canzler isn’t known as a first baseman; he’s played a few more major league games in left field than at first, one of Duquette’s earlier acquisitions is.
Travis Ishikawa was signed to a minor league contract in December, and Duquette loves his experience and defense. At the Winter Meetings, he also signed another player with lots of major league experience, Conor Jackson, to a minor league contract. Jackson has played lots of first base in the majors, but was more recently an outfielder.
The Orioles let Joe Mahoney go last year. He was their best first base prospect in the minors, but didn’t see a future with him.
Nolan Reimold, who’s never played first base in the majors, could also be tried there, but he’s more likely part of a left field platoon with Nate McLouth.
Wilson Betemit can also play first if needed, but he’s a better DH candidate from the left side. He hit .302 as a left-hander, but just .140 as a right-handed hitter.
The team may try and hang on to Luis Martinez, who they designated for assignment, for catching depth, if he clears waivers. Taylor Teagarden, the nominal backup catcher, has a history of injuries and Martinez and Luis Exposito could both conceivably see team in the majors.
With six days to go before pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Fla., the Orioles continue to stockpile players, many of whom will wind up at Norfolk or looking for work come March.
Though the team hasn’t officially announced it, they have agreed on a minor league contracts with Mark Hendrickson and Joel Pineiro.
Hendrickson will try to make it as a side-arming lefty and Pineiro tries as a starter. Pineiro apparently has not been invited to major league camp.
Pineiro has won 104 major league games, but barely pitched last season due to injuries. The Orioles signed him in April, but he didn’t come close to pitching in Baltimore. The 34-year-old tries once more.
-Today is the 118th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s birthday. To mark that, the Babe Ruth birthplace is admitting children free this Saturday and Sunday. The museum is located at 216 Emory Street, a few blocks from Oriole Park.
On Saturday, Author Morris Eckhouse will host a program on Ruth’s 1932 World Series “called shot” at 11 am. Birthday cake will follow at 12:30 p.m.
Also on Saturday, there will be a premiere of a film, “Say Can You See, The Star Spangled Banner in Sports.” It will employ new technology “that projects images onto multiple surfaces creating a high-tech film experience,” the museum says.