By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
7:49 AM EST, February 9, 2012
A few Thursday morning thoughts from the Orioles beat:
-- The outcome of Orioles pitcher Brad Bergesen’s arbitration hearing will be made public today. Bergesen, who made $434,000 last season, filed for $1.2 million while the Orioles countered with $800,000
It’s the first time the Orioles have gone to arbitration since 2006 with pitcher Rodrigo Lopez.
Given that Bergesen went 2-7 with a 5.70 ERA in 34 appearances (12 starts) and has an unclear role going into spring training because of the surplus of rotation candidates, the fact that he filed for a 57 percent raise is interesting. Few expect him to win this case.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette attended the arbitration heading Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla., and returned to Baltimore last evening.
Center fielder Adam Jones’ arbitration is still set for Feb. 17, the day before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
-- The Orioles wanted to add another bat before the beginning of spring training. Whether that bat is that of veteran first baseman Nick Johnson is uncertain.
But the addition of Johnson to the non-roster invitation list, which could be announced as soon as today, is an interesting one. Johnson has struggled to stay on the field throughout his career -- he’s had various hand and back injuries and suffered a broken femur -- but when he’s been healthy he’s been a commodity in any lineup because of his plate discipline and on-base percentage.
In Johnson’s last somewhat full major league season -- which was split between Washington and Florida in 2009 -- Johnson put up a .291/.426/.405 line in 457 at-bats. That season, he was sixth in the NL in walks with 99. During his best full season in 2006, Johnson put up a .290/.428/520 batting line and was third in the NL in walks with 110. Johnson also adds an above-average glove at first base (.992 career fielding percentage).
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has said he’d like to start Chris Davis at first, and Davis shouldn’t worry that his job is on the line. You never know what you will get from an injury-riddled player in his mid-30s, but Johnson's track record fits the mold of a Duquette acquisition (.401 OBP). Worst case scenario -- besides more injuries -- is he's healthy and he's at Triple-A.
Johnson's health is a big question. He had only 199 at-bats last season, which he mostly spent with the Indians' Triple-A club.
-- The Orioles also announced that outfield prospects L.J. Hoes and Xavier Avery have received invitations to big league spring training. Both players excelled at the Double-A level last season, and the Orioles believe it will be valuable to both of them to get the full spring training experience and be around veteran major league outfielders like Jones, Nick Markakis and Endy Chavez. The Orioles had only seven outfielders set to be at big league camp.
The fact that top prospects Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop haven’t been invited doesn’t mean much. Both will get at-bats in spring training games because of the minor league camp's proximity to big league camp.
Showalter might have to tap the minor league camp early. The Orioles open their Grapefruit League schedule March 5 with a pair of split-squad games, meaning the club will need 18 pitchers on the first day of games.
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