The Orioles announced the return of infielder Robert Andino on Monday morning, signing the 32-year-old to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training.
Andino played parts of four seasons with the Orioles from 2009 to 2012, hitting .239/.302/.326 in 360 games. He made 124 starts between second base, shortstop and third base in 2011, and made 96 starts at second base in 2012.
He has played in just 13 major league games — all of them last season with his hometown Miami Marlins — since the end of the 2013 season. He spent most of last season playing for the Marlins' Triple-A team in New Orleans, hitting .246/.319/.427 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs in 108 games. He saw most of his playing time at shortstop, making 82 starts there, but he also made 10 starts at second and 12 starts in the outfield. Andino was 7-for-24 with the Marlins after receiving a major league call-up in mid-August.
Andino has played for three major league organizations since the Orioles dealt him to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for outfielder Trayvon Robinson after the 2012 season. Most of that time was spent in the minor leagues. He played the entire 2015 season for the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League.
Along with the minor league signing of second baseman Johnny Giavotella, the addition of Andino helps address the organization's lack of infield depth entering the season. Aside from utility man Ryan Flaherty, the Orioles' 40-man roster is void of a reserve player who can play second base, third base and shortstop.
While Andino projects to open the season as the starting shortstop at Triple-A Norfolk, he will likely receive significant playing time this spring, especially because manager Buck Showalter has said he won't often play his starters early in a spring training schedule that will be extended by this year's World Baseball Classic.
Andino will return to a place where he left a fan favorite, mostly because of his role in helping to knock the Boston Red Sox out of playoff contention at the end of the 2011 season, which has been dubbed locally as the "Curse of the Andino."
On the final game of the regular season that year, Andino's game-winning walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth gave the Orioles a 4-3 comeback win over the Red Sox. That win, along with an improbable Game 162 win by the Tampa Bay Rays over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field, combined keep the Red Sox out of the postseason.
Andino played a significant role in a September surge for the Orioles in 2011, when they won 11 of their final 16 games. That has been seen as a building block for the franchise's current success over the past five years, which has included three trips to the postseason.