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Back with Orioles, Darren O'Day ready to recruit Chris Davis and others

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, right, shakes hand with relief pitcher Darren O'Day as manager Buck Showalter, left, looks on during a news conference at Camden Yards.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, right, shakes hand with relief pitcher Darren O'Day as manager Buck Showalter, left, looks on during a news conference at Camden Yards. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Tuesday afternoon at Camden Yards belonged to Orioles reliever Darren O'Day, who discussed his new four-year, $31 million deal in a news conference that included executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter.

But, with the veteran bullpen leader back in the fold, there were other storylines floating around the room that were as obvious as what was under O'Day's nose.

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A bushy mustache — think Sam Elliott in the 1985 movie "Mask" — that wasn't just a talking piece; O'Day is hoping it is a recruiting tool to bring back his good friend and fellow free agent, Chris Davis.

"Number 19, he's actually a mustache enthusiast," O'Day said, tongue-in-cheek. "So I'm hoping that maybe he'll see a picture of this and think that he couldn't stand not seeing it for a while. So maybe he sees it and thinks, 'That's where I want to play.'"

Davis, who led the majors with 47 home runs last year (and also grew his own, out-of-control 'stache in 2015), turned down a reported seven-year $150 million offer from the Orioles last week. It has since been taken off the table, Duquette said.

O'Day said he has been in touch with Davis, whom he has known since their days together in the Texas Rangers organization, and he'll continue to hope that Davis rejoins him in Baltimore.

"Every free agency situation is different. And he's going to do what's right for his family. That being said, I'm going to do everything I can to get him to come back, because I think he's a difference maker," O'Day said. "He makes our team better. He's a great teammate, a good friend. And I've been talking to him a little bit, just kind of relating my experience to his."

Then, the dry-witted O'Day paused.

"There's a couple differences in that, notably zeros," O'Day deadpanned, talking about the financial disparity between his deal and the one Davis is likely to sign. "But we've been friends talking about it, going through it, bouncing ideas off each other."

Signed through 2019, O'Day said he was perfectly comfortable with helping to recruit players.

"It's a powerful thing when you have players reach out to guys that could possibly join the team," O'Day said. "And I look forward to doing that."

Duquette said he believes the Orioles have a "a winning culture in the locker room under Buck's leadership," and that in itself will attract players. But it certainly doesn't hurt to have respected veterans such as O'Day and center fielder Adam Jones leading the charge.

"If the players make known how happy there are within the culture, they generally play better and it helps recruiting," Duquette said. "But I don't know how much [recruiting] helps. But I'm sure it helps."

As for the fruits of recruiting — signing new players — Duquette continued to be vague, saying he expects the club to be busy until offices close for Christmas on Dec. 23.

"The club is continuing to recruit players for the 2016 team. We're going to continue to work this week and into the first part of next week," Duquette said. "I think Wednesday [Dec. 23] is the last day, and then the industry shuts down until Jan. 2. So, between now and next Wednesday, we're going to try to add some players to the ballclub."

His shopping list hasn't changed since October.

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"We've been working on adding some pitching and also some left-handed hitting to balance the roster, so hopefully we can do something in that area between now and the break," Duquette said. "That's what we're shooting for."

Duquette was asked if the situation with Davis had changed at all in the last few days. He flatly responded, "No."

He was also asked about a report by The Baltimore Sun that the club had made an offer to, and was hotly pursuing, Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim.

"We're still looking for left-handed hitting and we're going to continue to work on that this week," Duquette responded.

As for improving a pitching staff that struggled last year, Duquette said the focus is specifically on the rotation, especially with O'Day returning to eighth-inning duties. But he wouldn't be opposed to adding to the bullpen, the pitching staff's strength. He doesn't expect to trade relievers to improve in other areas.

"We're more focused on adding players to the team — pitching, outfield, left-handed hitting depth to the organization."

And, of course, Duquette said he could add some more players for the minor league and spring training rosters soon.

"We're still working on some depth signings to our team," he said. "And we should be able to announce a few of those signings this week."

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