By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
2:14 PM EST, February 16, 2013
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said the team was “more comfortable” signing right-hander Jair Jurrjens to a minor league deal than a major league one after closely vetting the results of a physical on his right knee.
“There's some safeguards for the player in there, as well,” Duquette told reporters during Saturday’s first full-squad workout, which Jurrjens participated in fully. “At least we have a chance to work together and see if we can help him be a good big league pitcher.
“If you look in the book, it's hard to find players with that kind of record at his age,” Duquette said of the 27-year-old. “He's a highly skilled pitcher. [He has] great control and we just thought it was interesting to get involved with him."
After agreeing to a $1.5 million deal with the Orioles three weeks ago – pending a physical – Jurrjens settled for a minor league deal with an unspecified player opt-out clause. Jurrjens had been working out and throwing pen sessions in Tampa in the meantime.
The signing ends a long, mysterious span of three weeks between the time of his reported signing and Jurrjens’ first day in an Orioles uniform.
“We were trying to learn more about his knee and what it would take for him to pitch effectively,” Duquette said. “That’s was a lot of the discussion and a lot of it was an educational process for the club. We referred it to a couple of doctors. We were also trying to learn the most effective way to help him regain his stature from earlier in his career. That took a little time.
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 did not tender him a contract this winter, making him a free agent.
“I thought that we would get a deal done,” Duquette added. “It just took a little bit longer time and a little bit more education on our side of the fence.
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