Veteran reliever Kevin Gregg, who signed a two-year, $10 million free agent contract after the 2010 season to be the Orioles' closer, was designated for assignment Tuesday to make room for outfielders L.J. Hoes, a Mitchellville resident, and Endy Chavez.
Triple-A infielder Ryan Adams, a former second-rounder in 2006 who batted .224 at Norfolk this season, was also designated for assignment
The news about Gregg came as a shock to his fellow pitchers.
"Oh man, [shoot]," said reliever Pedro Strop when he heard the roster move. "For me, it's a front office decision, but he was a great teammate and a good help for me. Every time I had a question about pitching that was tricking me, I'd ask him. We always talked a lot in the bullpen, joking around. It's like wow, I'm surprised."
Gregg, 34, was viewed as a mentor by many of the club's pitchers. On Sunday, after 24-year-old lefty Zach Britton gave up five earned runs and didn't get out of the fourth inning against the Yankees, Gregg approached him and reminded Britton about his four previous quality starts.
"Gregg said to me, 'Forget about it. You are on a really good roll right now. Don't even worry about that one.' That builds some confidence," Britton said. "You're like, 'You're right. Forget about this. Let's not dwell on it.' He was just one of those guys who you went to. So it sucks to see him go, but obviously we understand there is a business side and we can't control that."
Last year in New York, after Britton had the worst start of his big-league career, Gregg spent an hour huddled with him the next morning in the visitor's clubhouse, just talking baseball.
"He is definitely a guy I went to a lot with struggles, he had all that experience, that helped me. And he was easy to approach," Britton said. "I think he took it upon himself to really try to help us out, especially if you were going through a rough patch."
Gregg had his share of troubles in Baltimore. Signed to be the closer, Gregg converted just 22 of 29 save opportunities in 2011, and eventually lost the job to Jim Johnson. He became a target for fans, and was booed on Opening Day in Camden Yards this year.
Although he had some bright spots this season, Gregg primarily was relegated to middle and long relief, despite being the club's highest paid reliever. He was 3-2 with a 4.74 ERA in 40 games. After a strong July (one earned run in 10 2/3 innings), he posted a 7.71 ERA in eight August games and had allowed three earned runs in two innings in September. He gave up earned runs in three of his last five appearances.