A year ago tonight, the Orioles trashed a clubhouse in Arlington, Texas. They had just beaten the Rangers 5-1 in the first American League wild-card game, and everyone was thrilled.
Nick Markakis, who couldn’t play because of a broken thumb, got his frustrations out by spraying champagne in the direction of everyone. Others followed his lead, and the Orioles were on to play the Yankees 48 hours later.
Six players from that game, Robert Andino, Endy Chavez, Lew Ford, Mark Reynolds, Joe Saunders and Jim Thome, didn’t return.
As the first week of the Orioles offseason concludes, it’s fair to say that there’ll be more turnover this winter than last.
Andino, who jokingly said he was sent to Alaska by the Orioles when they traded him to Seattle, filed for free agency from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.
After an unsuccessful time with the Mariners, Andino was sent to the Pirates in July and never made it out of Indianapolis.
In this relatively quiet week for the Orioles, they had two players, Jairo Asencio and Taylor Teagarden file for free agency on Friday.
Asencio, who once played under the assumed name of Luis Valdez, pitched four times for the Orioles, and had he done better, Francisco Rodriguez might not have been acquired.
He’s been a strong minor league pitcher. With Norfolk, he was 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA and an International League leading 28 saves. With the Orioles, he allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Teagarden was a favorite of manager Buck Showalter, but the Orioles shockingly designated him for assignment on Aug. 31 in order to create 40-man roster space for Chris Snyder. He batted just .167 this year.
One adjustment to the 40-man roster was made this week, too. Eric Beaulac, a minor league pitcher who’d been added when Teagarden was dropped, was removed from the disabled list and outrighted to Norfolk.
Beaulac was placed on the roster to give the Orioles added room to maneuver had they made the postseason.
And, it’s been a busy few days for Adam Jones, who will add three days of covering the postseason for TBS next week, to his previously announced two days with MLB Network.
Last Monday, Manny Machado saw Dr. James Andrews in Gulf Breeze, Fla. Andrews concurred with Orioles team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens, agreeing Machado didn’t need surgery on his right knee.
Machado will be reexamined by Wilckens four weeks after the injury to make sure everything is progressing. Even if surgery is required, Machado will be ready for spring training, the Orioles say.
While the Orioles rested, the wild-card and Division Series proceeded without them.
For Orioles fans, they can root for Koji Uehara, whose talents brought them Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter in a trade. Uehara had an unbelievable season for the Boston Red Sox, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays 12-2 on Friday.
Uehara struck out 101 batters in 74 1/3 innings. He didn’t start the season as the Red Sox’s closer, but after injuries to Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey, performed brilliantly in the role. He averaged just four hits per nine innings.
Last winter, Uehara had some interest in returning to Baltimore, where his son is enrolled in school, but his asking price was too rich for the Orioles.
Luis Ayala, a key member of last year’s bullpen, was traded to Atlanta in early April.
The Orioles wanted to keep T.J. McFarland on the 25-man roster, and Ayala was considered expendable. He was traded for minor league pitcher Chris Jones, who has some promise.
Ayala spent time on the disabled list with an anxiety disorder, but returned to go 1-1 with a 2.90 ERA in 37 games for the Braves.
He’s pitched in the first two games of Atlanta’s Division Series with Los Angeles. It’s the third straight postseason for Ayala, who also pitched for the New York Yankees in 2011.
Ayala pitched in two games for the Orioles this season, and one of his Braves’ teammates, Freddy Garcia, pitched in 11. Garcia threw two terrific games for the Orioles. In early May, he no-hit the Angels for six innings, and later that month, pitched eight shutout innings, allowing three hits and no walks against the Nationals.
Garcia didn’t pitch well otherwise, and during one postgame interview slipped in a profanity. After he returned to Norfolk, he pitched decently, and the Orioles sold him to Atlanta in late August. He’ll start Game 4 in Los Angeles on Monday night. That series is tied at 1.
Showalter has a rooting interest in that series, too. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was a minor league teammate, and later played for him when Showalter managed the Yankees.