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Orioles could retain Bourn, Johnson on restructured deals

Even though the Orioles officially cut ties with outfielder Michael Bourn and infielder Chris Johnson on Monday, the team could re-sign both to re-structured deals in the coming days.

Bourn requested and was granted release from his minor-league deal on the day he had the opportunity to opt out. Johnson was unconditionally released.

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The Orioles' minor-league deals with veteran players often include bonuses that force the team to pay additional salary to players who remain in camp beyond a certain day.

That appears to be the case for Bourn and Johnson -- being that since neither was going to make the Opening Day major league roster, the team could release them before the bonuses kicked in.

Still, the Orioles hope to retain both. Their lockers hadn't been removed from the Orioles clubhouse in Sarasota on Tuesday morning, an indicator that ties haven't been cut completely.

Bourn hasn't played in a spring training game this year, fracturing his right index finger while attempting to catch a football during conditioning drills. He is still about two weeks away from getting the splint removed from his finger and resuming baseball activities. He likely wouldn't be available for major league games until late April at the earliest.

However, even when Bourn returns, the team would have to figure out how to find space for him. The Orioles have a crowded group of corner outfielders, including Mark Trumbo, Hyun Soo Kim, Seth Smith, Joey Rickard and Craig Gentry.

Johnson, on the other hand, played regularly during the Grapefruit League season. He hit .269/.310/.493 with three homers and 11 RBIs. If the team retains him, he would likely be the team's starting third baseman for Triple-A Norfolk and see some time at first base.

Other items from today:

-- IF Paul Janish will be reassigned to minor-league camp and start the season at Triple-A Norfolk. He had an upward mobility clause that allowed him to join any other team if they were placing him on the 25-man roster.

-- With the exception of 3B Manny Machado and  CF Adam Jones  -- who have already logged plenty of at bats playing in the World Baseball Classic -- most regulars will make the trip to Port Charlotte on Wednesday for the Orioles' final road Grapefruit League game of the season so that they get to play back-to-back days with Thursday's Grapefruit League finale at home.

-- Closer Zach Britton will pitch in Wednesday's  game, throwing his first outing of more than one inning, entering to finish one inning and then throwing another complete inning.

-- RHP Chris Tillman's second throwing session off flat ground on Tuesday went well and the club believes he can continue his progression without starting entirely over.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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