Dan Straily walked into the Miami Marlins’ spring training offices March 25 expecting to learn which of the team’s first five games he would start. Instead, he was released.
Miami’s decision “100 percent” surprised Straily, the 30-year-old right-hander said Saturday in the Orioles clubhouse at Camden Yards. On Friday, Straily signed with the Orioles, one of the handful of organizations that offered him the chance to be a starter.
“They called me right away,” Straily said. “They said, 'Here's an offer for you. If this is something you're interested in, just let us know,' so it materialized pretty quickly once we had that going. For me, I was more interested in starting games than going to the bullpen somewhere, and this is one of the few places to give me the opportunity to do that right away.”
Straily hasn’t pitched in a competitive game since his final spring start March 22. So manager Brandon Hyde said Straily’s initial appearances with the club will be as a reliever before the Orioles “ramp him up” into the role of the team’s fifth starter. Of Straily’s 142 appearances with five teams across seven seasons, 132 have been starts. Six of his relief appearances came in 2014 with the Chicago Cubs, when Hyde was the bench coach.
“He's just a guy that eats innings, has a really good slider, knows how to pitch,” Hyde said. “Just a competitor, so we're really excited to have him.”
Hyde is one of eight Orioles coaches Straily figured he has been with in his previous stops. That group includes pitching coach Doug Brocail, who was an Astros special assistant when Straily was with Houston in 2015, and bullpen coach John Wasdin, who was a pitching coach in the Oakland Athletics system when Straily was in the minors with them.
The familiarity has been helpful given that infielder Jonathan Villar is the only Oriole that has been teammates with Straily before. A lot of that has to do with the quantity of players on Baltimore’s roster without a lot of major league service time. Straily said he has grown used to filling the veteran role with his past two teams, the Cincinnati Reds and Marlins.
“The one thing I've learned is the older you get in baseball, your job is to just kind of lead by example,” Straily said. “ 'This is how we work. This is how we prepare. This is how I stayed focused between each start for the whole 33-start season.' I think just be an example and be ready to answer questions if anyone has anything.
“A lot of times, I've noticed over the years that questions about being successful and being ready in the big leagues don't really have much to do with baseball. That's the one thing every guy in this room is really gifted at. They ask questions that have to do with how to be comfortable in the clubhouse, how to be yourself, or something simple like where to live in town, things like that. Those are the kind of things that really make an impact on helping people become comfortable."
Although Straily arrived Saturday, it’s possible he becomes a trade commodity should the Orioles be out of contention by the July 31 deadline. His one-year contract with the organization reportedly includes a salary bonus should he be traded.
“My job's to come in and pitch,” Straily said. “My agent and the front office is working together, but while I'm here, I'm 100 percent committed to here, wherever 'here' is. I've been in a lot of different places in my career, but I can tell you that each place I've been to I've been 100 percent committed to that specific spot while I was there.”
Martin, Hyde sad to lose Jackson
Richie Martin and Drew Jackson were supposed to move in together Friday.
That didn’t happen. Jackson was designated for assignment to make room on the Orioles’ 25- and 40-man rosters for Straily. The move leaves Martin without a roommate and as the only Rule 5 draftee on the Orioles’ roster after the club left spring training with three.
“A little sad,” Martin said Saturday. “That was my boy, but that's baseball, and I wish nothing but the best for him.”
Jackson, 25, went hitless with a walk in four plate appearances with Baltimore, though he slashed .316/.355/.386 in 62 spring plate appearances. The Orioles acquired Jackson in the Rule 5 draft through a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies. Should he clear waivers, Jackson will be offered back to his original organization, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Drew had a great spring training and made the team by his performance and how he played and his versatility,” Hyde said. “This just was one of those situations where you just can't keep everybody, and we just needed an arm badly, and that's what it came down to. I wish Drew the best of luck. We texted a lot last night. I hope I get the opportunity to manage him again at some point.”
Around the horn
Right-hander Matt Wotherspoon has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. … Hyde said Straily’s addition should allow right-hander Nate Karns, who has been the “opener” of the Orioles’ two bullpen games, to pitch in a more traditional relief role. … Catcher Austin Wynns, on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain, will likely catch six innings in an extended spring game “in a couple days,” Hyde said.