Orioles would still welcome Pat Connaughton to baseball as he considers his NBA future

The Orioles' courtship of their 2014 fourth-round draft pick, pitcher Pat Connaughton, is set to stretch into a third year as the dual-sport athlete considers his future in the NBA.

Appearing on MLB Network Radio on Monday, Connaughton, who just finished the second year of a three-year contract with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers where only the first two years guaranteed, said he's "not going to unrealistically chase a dream if it appears that dream is getting farther and farther away."


On that same appearance, he said his relationship with the Orioles remains good. Executive vice president Dan Duquette said the club's stance on the former Notre Dame ace hasn't changed.

"The Orioles believe he has a good future in baseball," Duquette said. "He's a terrific athlete, has a world of talent. A good competitor. So whenever he wants to apply his skills full time, I think he can come quick — to the major leagues — because he's such a gifted athlete."


Recently, Duquette said Connaughton was set to be in Sarasota, Fla., where the team has its spring training complex, for a charity event hosted by college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, and would stop by the facility "and see our people and maybe work out." Connaughton spent a couple of weeks throwing in Sarasota last summer after his rookie season in the NBA. Vitale's charity gala was held in Sarasota on May 12.

When told of the remarks made on the radio, Duquette said he hoped Connaughton would look at those who have been in his situation before, especially as it relates to his agent, Sam Samardzija, whose brother Jeff passed on an NFL career to be a successful major league pitcher.

"He decided to ply his trade in MLB, and he's done pretty well financially," said Duquette, referring to Samardzija's career earnings of over $61 million. "I would hope that Pat would look at him as a role model."

Connaughton got a two-year guaranteed contract as a second-round pick in the 2015 NBA draft after a strong senior year and star turn in the NCAA tournament for Notre Dame that spring. But over two seasons, he has appeared in 73 games and averaged 1.8 points per game. He played more in his second year than his first, and shot better this season, but the minutes didn't increase more than marginally.

The Orioles let Connaughton keep his $428,000 signing bonus as a token of goodwill for a moment like this. Throughout it all, Connaughton has maintained the same belief as Duquette — that he could progress to the major leagues quickly should baseball become his main focus.