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Orioles sign OF Delmon Young to minor league deal, invite him to spring training

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles have signed outfielder Delmon Young to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, the team announced Monday.

Young and outfielder-designated hitter Jack Cust had been invited to the Orioles' minicamp this week, according to an industry source. Now that Young has signed, he could stop by the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Wednesday or Thursday, while Cust is expected to arrive Tuesday.

Signing players out of the team’s minicamp has been a regular occurrence. The Orioles have signed a pitcher to a minor league deal following a minicamp tryout in each of the past two years — left-hander Mark Hendrickson last season and right-hander Stu Pomeranz in 2012.

Young, the No. 1 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003, could serve as a right-handed designated hitter against left-handed pitching for the Orioles, filling a void left when the club traded Danny Valencia to the Kansas City Royals last month. Young has a career .303/.341/.471 line against left-handers.

Young also has nine homers and 18 RBIs in 33 postseason games and was named Most Valuable Player of the 2012 American League Championship Series, hitting .357 (6-for-17) with two home runs and six RBIs for the Detroit Tigers.

“He’s still only 28 years old,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said of Young. “But the thing he does well is he can hit when you need a hit in the playoffs and he has a very good record over his entire career against left-handed pitching. … Delmon is still a young guy. He is still relatively young. He still has good ability and some things he can do well to help the team.”

The free-swinging Young -- he has swung at nearly 60 percent of the pitches he has seen in his eight-year career — had his best season in 2010, when he hit .298/.333/.493 with 46 doubles, 21 home runs and 112 RBIs for the Minnesota Twins. He played 103 games for the Philadelphia Phillies and Rays last season, hitting .260/.307/.407 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs. 

Formerly the top prospect in baseball, Young has found trouble on and off the field during his career.

As a minor leaguer in 2006, he received a 50-game suspension for throwing a bat and hitting the home plate umpire after a called third strike. In 2012, he pled guilty for aggravated harassment after he was arrested for allegedly yelling an anti-Semitic slur in New York City.

On the field, the free-swinging Young — he has swung at nearly 60 percent of the pitches he has seen in his eight-year career — has been a capable hitter. He was named Most Valuable Player of the 2012 American League Championship Series, hitting .357 (6-for-17) with two home runs and six RBIs for the Detroit Tigers. He has nine homers and 18 RBIs in 33 career postseason games.

Cust, who turns 35 on Thursday, last played in the major leagues in 2011, when he hit .213/.344/.329 in 67 games with the Seattle Mariners. He played 28 total games for the Orioles in 2003 and 2004.

He has a career .374 on-base percentage and led the AL in walks (111) in 2008 while playing for the Oakland Athletics. He also led the league in strikeouts three consecutive years from 2007 to 2009 with Oakland.

Also of note:

-- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who is coming off offseason surgery on his left knee, will not attend this week's minicamp because he is scheduled to visit Los Angeles Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Thursday in Los Angeles to get clearance to resume baseball activities.

Machado is now scheduled to arrive in Sarasota for spring training on Feb. 6, a full week before pitchers and catchers report.

Missing the minicamp is not an indication of a setback in Machado’s recovery from the surgery in October, which was performed by Dr. ElAttrache, but more a result of ill-timed scheduling, according to Orioles manager Buck Showalter.

-- Representatives for free-agent infielder Mark Reynolds contacted the Orioles about a possible reunion, and while there is some interest, it doesn't appear that the club is going to sign Reynolds at this point.

-- Following this week's minicamp, new pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti will fly out to Southern California to work with West Coast-based pitchers Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Brian Matusz and Zach Britton in Irvine, Calif., beginning on Friday. That group of pitchers will be working out with vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson. Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who is coming off surgery on his right knee this offseason, could also attend.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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