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Alejandro De Aza reports to Orioles camp, talks about losing arbitration hearing

After losing his arbitration hearing to the Orioles, outfielder Alejandro De Aza reported to spring training in Sarasota, Fla.
After losing his arbitration hearing to the Orioles, outfielder Alejandro De Aza reported to spring training in Sarasota, Fla. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

Orioles outfielder Alejandro De Aza had heard the horror stories about how arbitration hearings go -- when the team you're about to play for breaks down each of your flaws in an effort to win the case.

But despite losing his arbitration case with the Orioles, De Aza actually expected his first experience to be even more brutal.

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"Honestly, I thought it was going to be worse," De Aza said. "It was something that they needed to do. It happened, and now [I have] a fresh mind going into spring training."

De Aza, 30, reported to Orioles camp Sunday, a day after he lost his arbitration hearing against the club. The sides weren't far apart on the salary figures that were filed -- it was a difference of $650,000 -- but De Aza will have to settle for a $5 million salary this season in his final year of eligibility. The hearing was decided by an independent panel of three arbiters.

De Aza, who participated in some fielding drills with outfield coach Wayne Kirby and took batting practice in the covered batting cages Sunday, said there were no hard feelings with the club.

"Not at all," De Aza said. "I know this is a business and it is what it is. … At the beginning of the season, they said I was going to be in arbitration. Win or lose, life goes on. Everything is going to be the same."

The Orioles treated De Aza as a "file-and-go" player, meaning that once the two sides filed salary figures, he was going to a hearing. Before the numbers were filed, the Orioles engaged talk of signed De Aza to a multiyear deal that would have kept him in Baltimore beyond 2015. He's set to become a free agent after this season.

"I'm interested in the opportunity," said De Aza, who said he didn't know of any extension talks. "Like I said before, this is a great team, and I'm excited about the opportunity here, and I want to be here for a long time."

After joining the Orioles in a trade with the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 31, De Aza hit .293/.341/.537 with 11 extra-base hits (five doubles, three triples and three homers) and 10 RBIs in 20 games.

"I was just trying to do my job every day, day in and day out," he said. "I was just trying to do my job and battle. Helping the team win, it was a big step.

Still, De Aza hasn't been with the Orioles that long, so he's looking forward to his first spring with the club.

"It's big," De Aza said. "Now I get to know all my teammates better. A lot of people I didn't know last year. I got to spend time with them, especially in the outfield.

"I think we did a good job in the outfield communication, but now, after spending more time with them, I'm going to know which balls I have to chase and all that kind of stuff."

-- The team will keep a close eye on right-hander Dane De La Rosa, a nonroster invitee who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee Sept. 18. De La Rosa threw a bullpen session Saturday. While pitching for the Los Angeles Angels' Triple-A team, he missed more than six weeks last season with the injury before having surgery. He was 3-2 with a 5.33 ERA in 27 relief appearances in Triple-A. De La Rosa made just three major league appearances with the Angels last season, allowing three runs in 2 1/3 innings.

-- Showalter said top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy is currently expected to open the season at Double-A Bowie. There are no physical limitations on Bundy after he had Tommy John reconstructive right elbow ligament surgery in 2013, but the club likely will project his innings so that he can help the major league club down the stretch, much like the Orioles did with right-hander Kevin Gausman last season.

eencina@baltsun.com

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