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March 29, 2011

Classy Hendrickson ponders options, returns to clubhouse to say his goodbyes

Mark Hendrickson does his best thinking on the golf course so after learning Monday that he would not be part of the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, that was the first place he went. And it rained on him there, too.

“I thought today would be easier, but it’s worse,” said Hendrickson after reporting back to Ed Smith Stadium today to pack up his locker and say goodbye to his teammates. “I think yesterday just really didn’t sink in. It was one of the things where I don’t know, there was too many things to take into consideration. I just had to leave and play golf. Today, I thought it would be a little easier, but coming back here and not knowing what’s going on, it’s kind of hard. But I wanted to see everybody. It’s something I wanted to do.”

Hendrickson, the 36-year-old lefty who has made 105 appearances for the Orioles over the past two seasons, had a March 30 opt out clause in his minor league contract that stipulated that he could search for a job elsewhere if he didn’t make the big league club. That became a reality yesterday, leaving Hendrickson to spend the next couple of days considering his options. He still hasn’t ruled out reporting to one of the Orioles’ minor league affiliates, but that’s certainly not his preferred option.

“It’s certainly a possibility, but obviously my first intention is to find a big league job somewhere,” he said. “If that doesn’t happen, you just kind of go down to the next option. You just try and consider what’s the best avenue. I’d never rule anything out. I’m just trying to find the best opportunity, the best fit. That could be still with the Orioles but obviously the first order of business is not breaking with the club. I have to deal with everything else after that.”

Hendrickson admitted that his decision is complicated by his family situation. He and his wife welcomed a baby girl this past December, and they have another high school-aged daughter. The family lives fulltime in York, Pa. Their home’s proximity to Camden Yards was one of the main reasons Hendrickson re-signed with the club.

“Those are situations that I haven’t really been in, I haven’t really thought of,” he said. “I think what I’ve learned when I’ve gotten older – that maybe these guys haven’t experienced – is once you have a child that is in school, to ask them to pick up and move is not something that is good for them. In a sense, it makes decisions like this a little bit more challenging, a little bit more difficult because there are so many factors to consider. But they are supportive right now. I think it was harder to tell my wife than even hearing the news myself. That didn’t make for a good day, but she’s doing OK, she’s supporting me. We’ll have to decide what’s best for us."

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 10:35 AM | | Comments (8)
        

Comments

Hendrickson has always seemed like a great guy, and I really feel for his family concerns. That's the type of thing that "normal" people have to weigh all the time.

From a baseball standpoint, I am surprised that the Orioles did not keep a 2nd lefty in the bullpen. Mark hasn't been great against lefties, but it seems to me that this is a strategic decision that we could be regretting down the road.

Orsulakfan, I agree I would like 2 lefties in the bullpen, but it is hard to classify Hendrickson as a traditional lefty considering he has been almost useless against lefties throughout his career. You are probably better off bringing in a righty instead of Hendrickson. That being said, I would have liked to have seen Rapada make the club, although he did not help himself over the past 2 weeks after a great start to spring.

I will agree though that Hendrickson is a good guy, and I wish him the best whether he stays with the O's and reports to AAA or is able to find a secure a job elsewhere.

With some early uncertainty in the starting rotation seems like Buck wanted two long guys in the pen to start the year. I thought in the end they would keep Henderickson around as one of those guys. Just looks like Rupe came in and flat out won the job for now.

With Duke starting the year on the DL and Britton going to Norfolk for a couple of starts, it could be May or June before the starting rotation gets set. In the end I'm thinking Tillman goes back to AAA for another stretch, he just hasn't seized a job yet in the rotation, he had his chances this spring but he never was quite lights out.

If Henderickson doesn't catch on some where else, we could see him again this year. Rapada is another guy that got sent out that I hope we see again, if the rotation gets settled, then the need for 2 long men could be less, and the luxury of a "lefty" specialist could allow Rapada a spot in the pen.

Henderickson was a nice guy and a solid pro, just wasn't a shutdown lefty that you need to be if the staff is going to carry two left handed relievers.

I respect him for how professional he is. He is a classy guy and I wish him well. We can do better though with Berken as long reliever, and Rapada as the LH specialist to be called up when needed. Just not sure where Hendrickson fits anymore, especially when he carries a 5+ ERA in the regular season, and opp batting average of .300.

I hope Hendrickson reports to AAA, he woould be a good influence on Erbe and Spoon, and they could use the depth there. He would also likely get regular work, and if he impresses, he could be back here in a matter of time or be showcased for another team.

As for his ineffectiveness vs lefties, that was his role the past two seasons, and it was one at which he did not excell. There are a couple of RHs in the pen who do well against lefthanders. Johnson, for example, is one.

There are always cuts this time of year, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Orioles signed or traded for a lefty. I'm not convinced this is actual the team going north.

The Toy Department column says "Orioles pitchers dropping like flies." Since this is the case, then why did the Orioles let Mark go? Seems the Orioles need all the pitchers they can get so their best case is to keep Mark on the roster and drop another hitter. Pitchers control the game, not the hitters.

As for his family situation and his desire to stay with the Orioles, the best place for Mark would be Norfolk. At least he'll still be near his home in York especially whenever Norfolk comes north to Lehigh Valley in Allentown and Scranton.

And since Mark is lousy against lefties, why put pitch him against lefties in the first place? Bucky should use Mark where he is most effective.

"youuuuu raaaaannnnnggggg?

I for one wish hendrickson well. I am convinced he will get a ML job I wish it was with us.. For several years he took the ball whenever asked regardless of role. I believe you can always use another lefty in the AL east. He never pitched lights out and his ERA often took lumps trying to eat innings in long relief. The defense often affected him because he wasn't a SO pitcher.Still he was always there to pitch.. Good luck Mark.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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