Last season, the bullpen was one of the Orioles' season-long strengths, and while the club's corps of relievers returns intact in 2013, executive vice president Dan Duquette said he's open to adding another bullpen arm this offseason.
The Orioles' bullpen compiled a 3.00 ERA last season, the fifth-best mark in baseball and the third best in the American League.
The bullpen returns five locks: closer Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop, Darren O'Day, Luis Ayala and Troy Patton. Right-hander Tommy Hunter blossomed when he moved to the bullpen, so he's a likely candidate to return. Left-hander Brian Matusz also performed well in relief. And then there's Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland, who would need to remain on the roster for the entire season.
There's not much room to add another reliever, but Duquette is open to it.
"The bullpen was strong last year," Duquette said. "These guys are at the age where some of them should improve and a couple of them should be able to maintain and perform at the level they did this past year, but that wouldn't preclude us from adding some additional depth to our pitching staff."
The Orioles have shown interest in free-agent right-hander Matt Lindstrom, who was an Oriole for most of last season until he was dealt to Arizona for left-hander starter Joe Saunders in August. Lindstrom pitched to a 2.72 ERA in 36 relief appearances for the Orioles in 2012.
Duquette has made it clear that he will continue to add to the organization's pitching depth, even though the team has appeared to dangle some of its young pitching as trade fodder this offseason.
Other items of note around Birdland:
-- Even though the week between Christmas and New Year's is usually a slow period, Duquette said he still had some discussions with free agents and spoke with a few teams about trade possibilities. Some were follow ups from discussions first made at the winter meetings.
-- Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair were at the team's spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday to begin preparations. Among the tasks were making sure the pitching mounds are uniform as well as other specifications to the fields.
-- The Orioles will host a nation athletic trainers conference this week in Baltimore. The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) Baseball Medicine Conference, which is designed for physical therapists and athletic trainers who deal with baseball and softball injuries, will run Thursday through Saturday. Faculty will include Orioles team physician Dr. John Wilckens and Angels medical director Dr. Lewis Yocum.