The 35-year-old right-hander, who was a key piece of a strong Orioles bullpen last season, said he would make a decision Thursday night and announce it Friday.
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One factor in the decision is the fact that Ayala just finished a lengthy winter ball season. His Mexican League team, Yaquis de Obregon, won the Caribbean Series just last week. Ayala has not thrown a bullpen session over the first two days of pitchers and catchers workouts but said he already feels loose and ready for the WBC if he chooses to play.
“I’m ready,” said Ayala, who was 5-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 66 relief appearances for the Orioles last season. “I don’t need to throw too much. I could pitch in a game right now.”
Ayala’s previous experience in the WBC was the ultimate cautionary tale. While pitching for Mexico in the 2006 event, he tore a ligament in his right elbow and needed surgery that cost him the entire season.
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (United States), reliever Pedro Strop (Dominican Republic) and catchers Allan de San Miguel (Australia) and Chris Robinson (Canada) have all committed to play in the World Baseball Classic. Pitchers Jim Johnson (United States) and Miguel Gonzalez (Mexico) have declined invitations.
Braddock held back
Non-roster left-hander Zach Braddock will be limited in camp this spring because he is recovering from reconstructive shoulder surgery to repair a SLAP tear in his left labrum.
Braddock, who said he began a throwing program last month, had no estimate for a return to the mound. He’s been working with pitching mechanics specialist Chris Correnti, who helped Curt Schilling recover from a SLAP tear in 2008.
Braddock was 1-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 46 appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010, striking out 41 and allowing 29 hits in 33 2/3 innings. He was released by the Brewers in May after posting a 7.27 ERA in 25 appearances.
Around the horn
Outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who was designated for assignment last week to make room for pitcher Todd Redmond, cleared waivers Thursday. He’s been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk and is expected to arrive in camp Friday. … Relievers Darren O’Day and Jim Johnson have yet to throw a bullpen session and likely won’t for the next day or two. Showalter wants to give them a little extra rest, considering the length of spring training. … Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, recovering from Tommy John surgery in May, is scheduled to throw off a flat mound on Feb. 25. … Catcher Jose Gil, a non-roster invitee, has obtained his visa and is expected to arrive in camp Friday. That would make infielder Yamaico Navarro the only player on the 60-man spring roster who is not yet here. … There was no new news on the continuing delay in the Orioles’ possible signing of right-hander Jair Jurrjens on Thursday.