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Johnson, Urrutia sent down; De Aza returns

The Orioles announced two cuts today, reassigning pitcher Steve Johnson (St. Paul's) to the minor-league camp and optioning outfielder Henry Urrutia to Triple-A Norfolk.

Urrutia acquitted himself well, batting .320 with one homer and seven RBIs in 25 at-bats. But with a crowded outfield he was a longshot to make the team coming into the spring.

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Johnson injured a finger early in camp, and is coming off an injury-filled season. The St. Paul's graduate signed a minor league deal and was trying  to get back to the major leagues for the first time since 2013.

On Friday, the Orioles sent pitchers Mike Wright and Tim Berry to Norfolk and are now down to 41 players in camp, including eight non-roster invitees.

The Orioles also got an outfielder back on Saturday.

Alejandro De Aza returned Friday night from a very special trip to his homeland.

De Aza is always in the middle of spring training in the United States on his grandfather's birthday in the Dominican Republic.

This year, the Orioles' outfielder's "granddad" turned 99 and De Aza decided to broach the idea of leaving the team briefly to celebrate the birthday. Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn't hesitate with his answer.

"Honestly, I went in there and I didn't know whether he was going to let me go or not. I went in and told him it's my grandpa's 99 th birthday and if he can give me one or two days to go there. And he's like, 'You should go.' He even didn't let me say the word. He just said, 'Go.'"

Not only did De Aza surprise his grandfather on Thursday – something he hasn't done, he said, since before he signed a pro contract in 2001 -- but he also got to celebrate his daughter's 11th birthday on Thursday.

De Aza admits he was a little concerned about making the request to Showalter, and was pleased with the final result.

"Honestly, it was hard for me because it was my first time asking something like that," De Aza said. "I don't know what to say. I don't know. I'm new here. But I can tell you he's a good man."

In other Orioles news, infielder Paul Janish is in the starting lineup Saturday – his Orioles debut. He is recovering from early February surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow.

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