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Orioles and Jair Jurrjens still in waiting game

By Dan Connolly

The Baltimore Sun

8:25 PM EST, February 6, 2013

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The Orioles and right-handed pitcher Jair Jurrjens still have not finalized a one-year deal, nearly a week after the 27-year-old began his team physical.

But Jurrjens remains hopeful that he’ll soon be a member of the team and will join the Orioles’ pitchers and catchers for their Feb. 12 reporting date in Sarasota, Fla.

“I hope so, the only thing I can do is keep working and getting ready,” Jurrjens said by phone Wednesday. “We’re still trying to discuss some small stuff on the contract. … We are getting close, just some small details we want to make sure we go through before we sign.”

Jurrjens, who is currently in Tampa, Fla., working out, was thoroughly examined by team doctors in Baltimore starting on Thursday and ending Monday. But there has been no announcement of the one-year, $1.5 million deal (with another $2.5 million potentially available in bonuses).

The Orioles do not comment specifically about players not yet on the team, but one club source said doctors are still vetting Jurrjens’ medical information. The source said the drawn-out situation does not necessarily mean that Jurrjens’ deal is in jeopardy, but also wouldn’t rule out that possibility.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette called the situation “a process” and would not comment further. Jurrjens’ agent, Scott Boras, could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Jurrjens said he has thrown side sessions and played long toss and is eager to get started. He said he has yet to talk to team members or the coaching staff, including pitching coach Rick Adair.

“I am just waiting for it to be official before I start reaching out and start meeting people,” Jurrjens said.

An All-Star in 2011, Jurrjens has struggled since the second half of that year. Last season, he was 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) for the Atlanta Braves, spending much of the season at Triple-A. The Braves chose not to tender him a contract this winter.

If signed, he will compete for a spot at the back of the Orioles’ rotation. He has two minor-league options remaining, so he could also pitch for Triple-A Norfolk.

Jurrjens believes his right knee never regained strength from a previous surgery and he had trouble pushing off the mound in the last year, causing a dip in velocity. He said he believes the knee is much stronger now and expects to regain the form that made him a promising young starter.

It’s just a matter of convincing the Orioles’ medical staff that he will be at full strength in 2013. Until then, he’s just trying to take the delay in stride.

“Being frustrated does not help anything,” Jurrjens said. “So I just don’t think about it and instead concentrate on my workouts.”

dan.connolly@baltsun.com