What are the keys to the Orioles making the playoffs?
The Orioles invited 21 players to spring training who were not on their major league roster. A few were promising young players like Kevin Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez or Mike Wright who didn’t need to be on the 40-man roster then.
Most of the others had major league experience, some of them like Mark Hendrickson and Conor Jackson had impressive resumes. In all, five of the 21 have played for the Orioles this season: Gausman, Travis Ishikawa, Jair Jurrjens, Steve Pearce and Chris Dickerson.
Gausman obviously has tremendous promise, but none of the others is currently with the team. Ishikawa was with the team briefly only because he had a strong two months at Norfolk. The Orioles tried, in vain, to keep him away from the Yankees, but he was with New York for two days last week before being jettisoned when Derek Jeter was temporarily activated.
Ishikawa is now with the White Sox organization.
Jurrjens is now a free agent after refusing an outright assignment to Norfolk. Pearce, who had a decent start after a fabulous spring training and an injury to Wilson Betemit in the last week of camp, is now on the disabled list with wrist tendinitis.
Then, there’s Dickerson. The Orioles surprisingly designated Dickerson for assignment on Friday to make room for Henry Urrutia.
Dickerson was one of the final cuts in spring training, and he took his time before he accepted an assignment to Norfolk.
Barely a week into the season, Dickerson was added to the team.
He was a useful occasional outfielder and designated hitter. He marked his thrilling game-winning three-run home run off Detroit’s Jose Valverde by riding his bicycle home unrecognized through the streets of Federal Hill while smirking at the fans celebrating the win.
Dickerson often warmed up for games wearing a soccer jersey and kicking a ball and talked about his efforts to spur recycling. Just last week, Dickerson announced plans for an E-waste event in August. Positive that he would still be around, Dickerson enlisted Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, Jim Johnson and Nolan Reimold, whose season was essentially declared over on Friday, in his cause.
The Orioles will probably find a taker for the 31-year-outfielder, who’s also played for Cincinnati, Milwaukee and the Yankees. He’s a skilled player with some speed, perhaps a good fourth outfielder. His problem this year was a poor strikeout to walk ratio. He struck out 36 times while walking only four.
There’s another of the 21 non-roster invitees who has a chance to play for the Orioles, perhaps in September. Jason Pridie, a 29-year-old outfielder, who’s played 121 games for Minnesota, Philadelphia and the Mets, made the Triple-A All-Star team and is batting .294 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs with Norfolk. If there’s an injury to an outfielder, the left-handed hitter could get a call.
The Tides have used 54 players this year and could challenge their International League record of 75, set last year.