Orioles and others trying out names from the past

Orioles and others trying out names from the past
January 22, 2014, 9:30 am
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Hall of Fame voter Mark Zuckerman on the 2014 class

The soon-to-be 40-year-old Bobby Abreu signed on Tuesday with Philadelphia. Mark Mulder is going to spring training with the Angels. Chone Figgins wants to play again, and Brett Tomko will throw for the Orioles on Friday.

Neither Abreu, Mulder, Figgins or Tomko played in the major leagues last year. Mulder last won a game in 2006 and Tomko in 2009.

It seems as if there are a lot more players trying desperately to get back in the game than usual. Or, with so much money spent on big contracts, are clubs more eager to look for bargains?

Last week, there was a report that Johnny Damon was thinking about a comeback. Damon just turned 40. He last played in 2012, and during spring training, there were rumors that the Orioles were interested in him.

“I already signed Johnny Damon when he was 28,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said last March.

Jack Cust, who hit 97 home runs in four seasons with Oakland from 2007-10, wants another shot, too. He showed up at the Orioles minicamp in Sarasota looking for another chance. Cust has lots of competition, and has yet to be invited to spring training.

Tomko was a good major league pitcher—a decade ago. He hasn’t won more than 10 games since 2004. It would be a surprise if he’s in major league spring training.

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Two years ago, Nick Johnson came to spring training. He hadn’t played in the majors the year before, and the injury-riddled first baseman somehow made it through the spring and earned a spot on the team.

Johnson played nearly three months before breaking down and ending his career. There’s no word of a Johnson comeback.