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No matter what happens, Orioles' deal for Steve Lombardozzi a winner

Steve Lombardozzi may not end up as a fulltime infielder for the Orioles.

It doesn’t matter.

And maybe Alex Gonzalez’s bat has been dipped into the fountain of youth and he ends up hitting this season like he did in winter ball and this spring.

It doesn’t matter.

Monday’s trade that sent the 37-year-old Gonzalez to the Detroit Tigers for the 25-year-old Lombardozzi was an absolute gem for the Orioles.

And it’s exactly why Dan Duquette signs anyone and everyone over the winter, no matter how much it may frustrate fans wanting big moves or writers wanting a daily break from the “they signed whom?” story.

The Orioles picked Gonzalez off the scrap heap and signed him to a minor league deal with a spring training invitation Jan. 31 after he had a strong showing playing winter ball in Venezuela. It was one of those low-risk, under-the-radar moves Duquette does continually.

Gonzalez looked like he was going to make the Orioles' Opening Day roster, which would have been a feather in Duquette’s cap anyway, before Detroit apparently got desperate for infield help after shortstop Jose Iglesias' stress fractures in both shins.

And so enter the no-brainer trade for Lombardozzi, a hard-nosed grinder type who is much younger, from Columbia, can play several positions -- including second base -- and can be sent to the minor leagues without passing through waivers.

He is absolutely the kind of guy who fits perfectly on a Buck Showalter-managed, Dan Duquette-assembled team. And they got him for an aging veteran who was just looking for a chance to make a spring impression. Win-win for all involved.

Now, Lombardozzi is in the mix to start at second base on Opening Day. Or to be the club’s utility infielder, playing second base, third base and even shortstop or left field in a pinch.

And, theoretically, he is under team control for years to come.

No matter what Lombardozzi does in his time with the Orioles, this was an excellent move for the club.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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