Orioles outfielder Alejandro De Aza could report to spring training today, one day after losing his arbitration hearing over a relatively-low sum of $650,000 dollars.
When De Aza arrives, expect manager Buck Showalter to pull him aside to give him a pep talk.
The arbitration process is one that must be maneuvered carefully. A player has to listen as the team he plays for breaks down his every flaw. It can be humbling and sometimes it can peck away at a player's morale at the time of the year when confidence and optimism should be high.
De Aza had not gone through the process until Friday's arbitration hearing. He'll make $5 million in 2014, a pay day that most of us would happily take. But these processes always take a little bridge-building after the fact.
De Aza played extremely well since coming over from the White Sox in a trade last Aug. 30, hitting .293 with a .341 on-base and .537 slugging percentage with 11 extra-base hits (five doubles, three triples and three home runs) in 20 games with the Orioles. Still, he's only played 26 games – including the postseason – in an Orioles uniform, so he doesn't have a deep history with the organization.
But he will have an instrumental role with the club this season. The starting left field job is his to win and he is expected to get a good share of the team's at-bats from the leadoff spot.
So, the Orioles would be smart to put De Aza in a good frame of mind from the time he steps foot into the Ed Smith Stadium Complex. Trust that Showalter is already thinking about that and has planned what he's going to say to De Aza.
Tyler Wilson a proven winner
Showalter came away from watching right-hander Tyler Wilson's first bullpen session of the season very impressed.
Wilson, who was the Orioles' minor league pitcher of the year last season, enjoyed a breakthrough 2014, going 14-8 with a 3.67 ERA at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles placed Wilson on the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from being selected in the Rule 5 draft.
The Orioles' 10th-round pick in 2011 out of Virginia has also built a resume as a winner, compiling a 32-24 minor league record and 3.73 ERA.
"The thing about a guy like Tyler Wilson and [Rule 5 pick Logan] Verrett and [left-hander T.J] McFarland … if you look at their histories from high school on … [they've] been Friday night pitchers at Virginia and they don't get taken because they don't throw 100 miles an hour," Showalter said. "But there's probably not a plus-plus pitch in a guy like Wilson, but when you put the repertoire together, you win baseball games. He locates his fastball. He's got a good delivery. He fields his position. He holds runners. He's athletic. He's smart.
"Guys like that, they fit us," Showalter said. "I'm glad we protected him. If you're just basing scouting on gun readings, you're gonna miss a lot of guys. You look at his track record from high school on, he's done nothing but win."
Janish saw opportunity with Orioles
Infielder Paul Janish, who had surgery Feb. 13 to remove bone chips from his right elbow, is optimistic he can play the last 2-to-3 weeks of spring games and have enough time to win a utility roster spot.
Even if he does play well, it's likely that he will open the season at Triple-A Norfolk, but he's definitely a big part of the organization's plans.
Janish is known as a solid defender, especially at shortstop. He has a career 4.66 range factor per nine innings in the majors.
The Orioles have been searching for better defense in Triple-A, especially at the shortstop position. And they've upgraded with the additions of Janish, Rey Navarro and Ozzie Martinez.
Janish said he recognized an opportunity with the Orioles even if it wasn't an immediate one. He said knowing Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti from his days in Atlanta were a big part of why he signed. Janish said Wallace and Chiti sold him on the O's, particularly the opportunity to play for a contender.
"The team had a great year last year, so for somebody in my shoes, that's pretty big for me," Janish said. "I want to be somewhere where every game is important. As I go down the stretch if I'm not fortunate enough to make the team that they place value on having a veteran guy around as opposed to calling up a younger guy to get him experience."