SARASOTA, FLA. — On his arrival to Orioles camp Saturday morning after signing a minor-league contract, infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia said he signed with the intention of making the club out of spring training, not being minor-league depth.
"I have nothing to prove down there," Valencia said. "I've been a productive big leaguer, and it is what it is. Obviously, you want to be in the big leagues, and I think it'll all work out.”
Valencia, who plays first and third base as well as the corner outfield spots, acknowledged that the path to doing so may not be smooth.
Chris Davis has first base locked down, which forced Trey Mancini to move to left field. Tim Beckham is the primary third baseman. While right field seems a bit open, a heavy platoon player from the right side of the plate like Valencia joins a competition that includes Colby Rasmus, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Joey Rickard, and even Mark Trumbo.
"I'm not sure how hard it's going to be," Valencia said. "Obviously, that's up to them. But I've been a very productive big leaguer the last three years.
“I've shown that I can play in this game, and play well, and play at high levels. So I'm up for it, I think that everything will handle itself, and hopefully, I'll be in Baltimore with these guys."
Manager Buck Showalter said before Saturday’s game against the Phillies that there comes a point where it makes sense for the club to get a look at some with Valencia’s pedigree at a reasonable price.
“We're looking at a lot of avenues,” Showalter said. “We've got some players that have gotten to the point where they've been kind of presented as a good risk for us. I don't want to say no risk, there's always [risk]. a non-roster look for three weeks, four weeks. We've got some history, and he certainly brings some things you look for and have a prior history with him. We'll put him in the mix and see if he fits.
“A lot of it is coverage for an injury, like Pedro [Álvarez] here. It's hard to pass on those what-ifs. On the surface, it may not fit mathematically right now, but things could change. It also opens up some options for you to do some things, whether it be trades or whatever and have coverage, because these guys are going to end up signing with people and they are going to be in camp with people. I don't want to be having to go out and get somebody, we don't want to have to trade for somebody to get them because then we have to give up players or draft picks or signing bonus money, whatever the hell it is. I'll take every one of them in here to sort it out.”
Valencia spent 2017 with the Seattle Mariners, batting .256 with a .725 OPS and 15 home runs. It was his third straight year with 15 or more home runs, and his fourth team since he left the Orioles after the 2013 season.
That year, he hit .304 with an .888 OPS in 52 games, primarily as a lefty-mashing designated hitter, before the Orioles dealt him to the Kansas City Royals in the offseason for David Lough.
Those relationships played a part in his return, he said.
"It mostly came down to the fact that I had some similar offers, but I felt coming here, knowing some of the guys, having the relationships I do with some of the people here,” Valencia said. “I have great relationships with them and I felt like it was probably the right move and there's probably more playing time here than there were in other situations.
“I'm excited to be back with these guys. I've missed some of these guys. Me and Jones have been pretty close. Me and Manny are pretty close. I had some success here, and it's a place to be familiar with. I'm definitely excited to be here again."
Nothing to it
Outfielder Alex Presley, who signed at the outset of spring training and was assigned No. 47, switched to 0 on Thursday out of his desire to simply have a low number.
"I don't know," Presley said. "I wanted a low number, and zero is a number now apparently in the league. I asked for the number and they approved it, so that's how it went. ... There were so many people in camp when I got here, I had to have a higher number, 47. I kind of thought about it for a week or so, and I thought, maybe I can get zero.
“Mallex Smith in Tampa has zero, a couple guys have zero. I asked, and they went through the higher powers, and they approved it. No sentimental value or anything toward the number zero."