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Orioles sign veteran RHP Jon Rauch to minor league deal

BaseballJon RauchLuis AyalaMatt WietersWashington NationalsArizona Diamondbacks

The Orioles signed veteran right-hander Jon Rauch to a minor league deal, and the reliever will report to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, the team announced Saturday.

Rauch, 34, started the season with the Miami Marlins before he was released on May 23 after going 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA in 15 games. He allowed 23 hits and 14 runs in 16 2/3 innings for the Marlins. He allowed runs in seven of his 14 relief appearances with Miami.

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said the club had interest in Rauch in the offseason, but the two sides couldn't agree on a deal.

“We're going to take a look at him and see if he can help our major league team,” Duquette said. “Sometimes, with a new team, it doesn’t work out right away, and sometimes when you’re a veteran pitcher, it takes a little more time to get into the swing of things. That’s really what we’re taking a look at, but he had a really good year last year with the [New York] Mets.”

In 2012, Rauch had a 3-7 record with a 3.59 ERA and four saves in 73 appearances with the Mets. He allowed 45 hits and 28 runs (23 earned) while striking out 42 in 57 2/3 innings. He finished 22 games in relief.

Rauch will add another veteran arm to the bullpen at Norfolk, which already includes Manny Delcarmen, Mark Hendrickson and Adam Russell.

“His experience really replaces the experience we lost when we traded Luis Ayala,” Duquette said. “His record is almost as good as Luis Ayala's, but not quite. He's a veteran pitcher, so we like veteran pitchers.”

Rauch has an opt-out clause in his contract, according to an industry source.

The 11-year veteran has also played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, Montreal Expos and the Chicago White Sox. He has a career 43-40 record with a 3.90 ERA. He led the major leagues in appearances with 88 for the Nationals in 2007 and had a career-high 21 saves for Minnesota in 2010.

Duquette said he is pleased with the bullpen depth the Orioles have in Triple-A and has been especially pleased with the development of left-handed relievers Mike Belfiore and Chris Jones. Jones was acquired from the Braves for Ayala on April 10.

“He can also save a game,” Duquette said about Rauch. “He’s got [62] saves in his major league career, so he's a good veteran relief presence, and we’ll take a look at him in Triple-A and see how it goes.”

Hardy breaks streak

Shortstop J.J. Hardy broke out of an 0-for-11 streak in a big way Saturday, going 2-for-3 with two solo home runs against Detroit starting pitcher Justin Verlander.

It was more hot hitting from Hardy, who raised his average from .188 on May 2 to .244 after the Orioles' 10-3 loss Saturday. In 28 games in May, Hardy hit .273 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs and has provided pop in the seventh spot in the order behind catcher Matt Wieters.

“We're still hacking, just trying to put up as many runs,” Hardy said. “It's just tough to overcome that eight-run fourth.”

Around the horn

Catcher Matt Wieters will have Sunday off, and Chris Snyder will catch right-hander Kevin Gausman. … Right-hander Dylan Bundy will visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday and then could be cleared to start throwing. ... Catcher Taylor Teagarden made another start Saturday at Triple-A Norfolk. He’s expected to start at designated hitter Sunday. ... Showalter said left-hander Wei-Yin Chen reported he was pain-free for the first time since going on the 15-day disabled list May 14 with a strained right oblique. He was scheduled to jog in a pool for the first time Saturday. ... Designated hitter Chris Dickerson’s two-out walk-off home run was the Orioles’ first while trailing with two outs since Chris Hoiles’ grand slam against the Seattle Mariners on May 17, 1996. ... The Orioles have six players (Chris Davis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis, Wieters, Manny Machado) with 30 or more RBIs entering June. They’re the sixth team since 1921 to have six different players with at least 30 RBIs entering June and the first since the 2003 New York Yankees. ... Machado finished May with 44 hits, the second-most hits in a month by a player under 21 since Mickey Mantle’s 46 in July 1952.

dgallen@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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BaseballJon RauchLuis AyalaMatt WietersWashington NationalsArizona Diamondbacks
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