Baltimore Orioles

Steve Pearce: Blue Jays' 'hard and aggressive' pursuit meant elbow surgery with Orioles worth it

SARASOTA, Fla. — Even by his own standards of coming and going, last year's quick stint with the Orioles for utility man Steve Pearce was a short one.

He played just 25 games with the Orioles last season after aggravating an elbow injury in early August. Pearce batted .217 with a .729 OPS and three home runs before undergoing surgery in mid-September to repair the flexor tendon in his right throwing elbow.

But Pearce was back at Ed Smith Stadium greeting his former Orioles teammates Tuesday, and wasn't interested in talking about whether another reunion was discussed during free agency.


Instead, it was clear the two-year, $12 million deal he signed during the winter meetings with the Toronto Blue Jays was the right deal for both club and player.

"They were hard and aggressive," Pearce said. "As a player, when you have somebody who wants you that bad and they come after you, they don't mess around, they're not trying to low-ball — as soon as we got to a number we got comfortable with and they got comfortable with, it was an easy sign."


That Toronto, which lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion in free agency and was able to bring back outfielder Jose Bautista on a cut-rate deal, wanted Pearce was enough. He's set to be part of a first base/designated rotation with Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales.

His elbow is "getting better every day," he said.

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"Right now, I'm throwing at about 150 feet," Pearce said. "I just played my first game at first base the other day. I'm going to go between playing first base and DHing and then when my arm gets good, maybe I'll get in the outfield."

Even if he left it to his agent to say whether the Orioles were even in touch, Pearce said he's glad the team was as understanding as it was about his injury. The team knew Pearce had a balky elbow when they traded minor-league catcher Jonah Heim for him, and were ultimately supportive of the surgery route despite how the team needed Pearce's right-handed bat late last year.

"I felt bad about it, but what can you do?" he said. "I got there, I was excited to get over there but at the same time, I was hindered a little bit. I couldn't do what I wanted to do. It's unfortunate. I felt bad about it. They tried to help, but we didn't want to mess around with it.

"At the end of the day, they gave their input and said, 'You need to go get that surgery done so you can be 100 percent for next year,' as opposed to playing in the playoffs, playing hurt. It's a possibility of doing some real serious damage if I tried to play through it."

Around the horn: TextEditor

Catchers Francisco Pena and Audry Perez were reassigned to minor league camp, trimming the Orioles’ camp roster to 44 players. Showalter said more cuts would before Thursday’s day off. … Closer Zach Britton said he struck out all three batters he faced in a 12-pitch inning against the Tampa Bay Rays’ Triple-A team at Twin Lakes on Monday. Britton said he expects to have four or five more outings before spring begins, including back-to-back days. … Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, whose Netherlands team lost in the semifinal to Puerto Rico on Monday, will join third baseman Manny Machado and catcher Welington Castillo in camp Wednesday, though none will likely play until Friday at the earliest.