Orioles news and notes
The club remains in active discussions with its two remaining arbitration-eligible players, Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie as they draw near their respective hearing dates. I don’t sense that an agreement is imminent in either case, but the two sides are certainly working hard in an effort to avoid a hearing. If they can’t, the hearing for Scott, who asked for $6.85 million and was offered $5.7, is scheduled for Feb. 14 in Phoenix. Barring an agreement, Guthrie’s hearing will be heard two days later on Feb. 16, also in Phoenix. The Orioles No.1 starter filed for $6.5 million while the Orioles offered $5 million. Just my opinion here, but it certainly would be a positive end to a busy offseason if the Orioles were able to get these deals done before Monday’s first workout for pitchers and catchers. Guthrie is the likely Opening Day starter, while Scott will hit in the middle of the lineup and play left field every day. Having both of them in camp, happy and distraction free, would be extremely beneficial.
One guy who team officials will certainly monitor over the next two months in Sarasota is outfielder Felix Pie. The signing of Vladimir Guerrero is expected to push Scott to left field and Pie to a bench role. I’m sure the Orioles will have no issues with Pie being a little ticked off about losing his starting job. Why would any team want a young player who is content with being a reserve? However, being angry shouldn't translate into constantly sulking. When he lost his starting job to Nolan Reimold in 2009, Pie didn’t handle it well. The demotion affected his attitude, work ethic and demeanor, and prompted a major tongue lashing from Luke Scott, one of his closest friends on the team. I’ve heard that Pie acted the same way in Chicago when he was struggling or wasn’t getting at-bats. But Pie has a lot at stake here with how he handles the current situation. The 26-year-old has made some significant strides the past two seasons with his attitude, work ethic and maturity. Misunderstood by many of his teammates in his first season with the club, Pie now has a ton of support within the Orioles’ clubhouse. Even if he isn’t starting on Opening Day, he still will likely get chances to make an impact on a nightly basis, as a late-game defensive replacement, pinch runner and pinch hitter. Orioles manager Buck Showalter knows the energy Pie brings and will certainly get him some opportunities early. But Pie also has to show that he’s mature enough to handle the situation, and determined enough to do the little things that will help the Orioles win games.
The Orioles won’t have too many position battles this spring so barring a significant rash of injuries, I don’t really expect any major surprises for the Opening Day roster. However, one guy certainly worth keeping an eye on -- and rooting for if you’re a fan of comeback stories -- is non-roster spring invitee Ryan Drese. The 34-year-old starter had his best season with the Texas Rangers under manager Buck Showalter in 2004, going 14-10 with a 4.20 ERA and logging 207 2/3 innings. It’s been a steady fall since. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since making two starts for the Washington Nationals in 2006. He pitched in independent ball in 2008 and 2009. He’s had two different Tommy John surgeries, including one which was botched. And he spent this offseason, pitching in the Mexican winter league, where he went 5-3 with a 3.12 ERA and went six or more innings in five of his final seven starts. Drese, a close friend of fellow non-roster invitee David Riske, threw two bullpens this offseason for pitching coach Mark Connor before the Orioles offered him a minor league contract. He’s the longest of long shots to make the club, but it would be a pretty neat story if he had a good spring.
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