A month from now spring training opens, and while most of last year’s Orioles are returning, some have landed elsewhere. A few, however, have yet to find new homes.
Here are five Orioles from 2012 who are still looking for work.
1) Jim Thome
Last month, the now 42-year-old slugger said he wanted to play again. There’s not much of a market for an injury prone Designated Hitter who can’t play the field at all.
The Orioles haven’t made a move his way, and are unlikely to. Teams have moved away from the “big hairy guy” DH model, and prefer to use several players there.
If it’s the end for Thome, here’s hoping for a happy retirement and a short wait for Cooperstown.
2) Kevin Gregg
It’s been a hard fall for the Orioles’ closer of 2011. He hasn’t been heard from, and has yet to accept a minor league contract.
At this point, it’s hard to see a team giving him a major league contract.
Gregg lost his job to Jim Johnson in Aug. 2011, and was manager Buck Showalter’s last resort before being cut in a roster crunch after Nick Markakis was hurt. No one picked him then, and he’s been on the beach since.
3) Zach Phillips
While Thome and Gregg’s unemployment can be easily explained, here’s one that I have a hard time with. Not many 26-year-old left-handers with live arms are still available.
Phillips nearly made the club in spring training after a fine audition in Sept. 2011. He got into only six games and was outrighted to Norfolk, but refused the assignment.
Last season, the Orioles were surprised when they had to take him off the 40-man roster and he went unclaimed. It’s surprising that no one has taken a chance on him, but they will.
4) Nick Johnson
What was the bigger surprise—that Johnson nearly made it through June without being hurt? Or that he had more stolen bases than Nick Markakis or J.J. Hardy?
Johnson helped the Orioles for 38 games after a rocky beginning. His right wrist flared up, and after Johnson tried to rehabilitate it, he couldn’t, and while he hasn’t officially announced his retirement, he’ll not play again.
After Johnson was hurt, Thome replaced him, and even if he could have come back, there wasn’t really a place on the roster for both of them.
5) Randy Wolf
Wolf doesn’t have a team because after five games with the Orioles, he needed Tommy John surgery, and won’t pitch in 2013.
He was signed as a free agent in late August, and after a horrible time with Milwaukee, perked up with the Orioles and won two crucial games.
Had he not needed surgery, it was questionable whether he would have been on the postseason roster and there wasn’t much chance of him returning to Baltimore this season.
Another pitcher in the Wolf category is Stu Pomeranz, who needed back surgery that will prevent him from pitching this season. Pomeranz finally made it to the majors after years of alcohol abuse.
He suffered a season-ending oblique muscle injury in his third appearance in May and didn’t pitch again.
The seventh member of last year’s Orioles without work is Bill Hall. The 33-year-old has bounced from team to team. The Orioles were his sixth organization since the Brewers traded him to Boston in Aug. 2009.
Hall’s an active tweeter, but he’s yet to let us know of any news of his new team for 2013.