SARASOTA, Fla. – Because of the surplus of minor league outfield depth the Orioles have, outfielders Xavier Avery and Lew Ford will open the season at Double-A Bowie, executive vice president Dan Duquette said Sunday.
Ford, 36, had a strong spring, compiling a .405/.463/.643 batting line with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs in 37 Grapefruit League at-bats. Ford came to the Orioles on a minor league deal last season, signed from the independent league Long Island Ducks and played 25 games with the Orioles last season, hitting .183/.256/.352 with three homers and four RBIs.
The 23-year-old Avery also played with the Orioles last season, giving the team a brief spark with his speed while also filling a void in left field. He had just 11 spring at-bats before he was sent to minor league camp, hitting .182/.375/.182 with eight strikeouts and four walks. Last season, he played 32 games for the Orioles and hit .223/.305/.340 with six doubles, one triple, one homer, six RBIs and six steals in nine attempts.
That leaves outfielders L.J. Hoes, Chris Dickerson, Trayvon Robinson as well as outfielder-infielders Russ Canzler, Conor Jackson and Travis Ishikawa all opening the season in Triple-A Norfolk.
The Orioles will officially set their major league roster today at 2:30 p.m., when they will purchase infielder-outfielder Steve Pearce's contract and place right-hander Steve Johnson, right-hander Chris Tillman, designated hitter Wilson Betemit and left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada on the disabled list. Because his DL time can be backdated, Tillman will come off the the DL before his scheduled start on Saturday.