To make room for catcher Steve Clevenger on the big league roster, the Orioles designated outfielder David Lough for assignment Friday — another member of the Opening Day squad, and specifically the outfield that has been jettisoned during this season.
The Orioles have removed a mind-boggling nine players from the initial roster that was introduced at Tropicana Field on April 6 — and technically that number is 10.
Reliever Ryan Webb was on the April 5 roster that was submitted to Major League Baseball, but he was designated on Opening Day and traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers four days later. Webb was taken off the roster to make room for catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who was designated on May 26.
For the most part the Orioles have had to release those they have designated, meaning they've gotten no return for players such as pitcher Bud Norris and outfielder Delmon Young. Outfielder Travis Snider, designated on Aug. 7, still falls within the 10-day period the club has to trade, release or ask waivers on a designated player.
"That's a last resort. You don't want to be releasing players during the season because you're not getting any return on your investment," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "And it is not good management of your resources."
Although some of the salaries are in flux, and others have been absorbed by various clubs, the Orioles have eaten close to $10 million in salaries that they did not recoup. Overall, the 10 players that are no longer on their roster from Opening Day, including Webb, Lavarnway and the traded Tommy Hunter, had combined salaries of approximately $31 million to start the year.
Lough, 29, hit just .202/.243/.318 in 76 games with the Orioles this season, his second with the team. Considered a defensive whiz who could spell Adam Jones in center field, his spot became more tenuous when the Orioles acquired versatile outfielder Gerardo Parra on July 31.
Lough was one of several players — along with Snider, Alejandro De Aza and Young — that Duquette and Orioles manager Buck Showalter pointed to this offseason when asked how the club would replace free-agent outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis, who signed four-year deals elsewhere in December.
Asked whether he is second-guessing those personnel decisions now, Duquette said, "The issue there was we thought we had some capable players to do the job, but it didn't work out."
Showalter was also asked about those decisions, since that quartet and infielder-outfielder Chris Parmelee have all been designated for assignment (and later released or traded) this season.
"You can go through things every year, in a positive year and a year that you didn't accomplish what you wanted to, but we're not there yet. It's still there for us. And that's the way we are approaching it," Showalter said about the postseason. "I and the guys in the clubhouse aren't gonna live in that world. That's fine. We understand that when you're doing something important you are gonna be critiqued. We all understand that. … There's an easy way to keep that from happening. We control it."