Finding it easier to reconstruct part of their bullpen than plug a hole at first base, the Orioles signed veteran reliever Steve Reed to a one-year, $1.05 million contract yesterday with an option for 2006.
Reed, who turns 39 in March, led the Colorado Rockies with a 3.68 ERA last year, going 3-8 in 65 games. He tied former Oriole closer Lee Smith's record by appearing in 50 or more games for the 12th consecutive season.
In 13 major league seasons, Reed is 48-42 with a 3.51 ERA and ranks 29th on baseball's all-time list 803 career appearances. He has also pitched for San Francisco, Cleveland, Atlanta, San Diego and the New York Mets.
"I want the chance to win, and I know Baltimore wants to win," said Reed. "I know they're in a tough division, but it looks like they're just a player or two from making this thing happen and competing against Boston and the Yankees. Baltimore is a great city, it has a lot of tradition, and I'm excited about being a part of it."
Reed joins left-hander Steve Kline as the newest additions to the bullpen. The Orioles also signed reliever Jay Witasick (C. Milton Wright, UMBC) to a minor league contract with a spring invitation.
With Jason Grimsley having undergone ligament-replacement surgery on Oct. 12, Reed can step into a right-handed setup role and also give the Orioles an option if they trade Jorge Julio.
"It looks like, from what I understand, that myself and Steve Kline will be handling the sixth, seventh and maybe part of the eighth innings, depending what they do with B.J. [Ryan] and the back end of that bullpen," Reed said. "It doesn't really matter to me where I pitch. I've never really cared. You'll end up where you are by the way you're pitching. I look forward to being a part of whatever position they want to put me in."
Reed had a 2.38 ERA in 34 innings on the road last season, and a 5.06 ERA in 32 innings at Coors Field. He's pitched in Colorado for seven seasons, though not consecutively.
"I have over 400 career games there," he said. "As you'll see, I had long, flowing hair and no gray. Now I'm darn-near bald and gray. But I'm not intimidated about pitching anywhere."
In other news, the Orioles added utility infielder Chris Gomez to the 40-man roster after signing him to a minor league contract and inviting him to spring training.
To clear room on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated pitchers Dave Borkowski and Brian Forystek for assignment.