Baltimore Orioles

Orioles reliever Darren O'Day back in routine, plus roster moves and more

SARASOTA, FLA. — Setup reliever Darren O'Day struggled with hamstring and shoulder injuries last season that limited him to 34 appearances, but he said Wednesday, after his first bullpen session at spring training, that he will approach this spring like any other.

"I'm going to do the same things to get ready for the season," he said. "I'm just really happy that I was able to come back at the end of the year last year and be healthy. I missed some innings for sure, but I think I know what I need to be ready and hopefully I'll be able to get that."


Orioles manager Buck Showalter indicated that the coaching staff might be a bit more cautious with O'Day during the regular season, but stopped short of saying that will translate into fewer appearances.

"I don't know," Showalter said. "I'm not going to get painted in that corner. I'd lean on Darren. He's real honest with us. When Darren's right, not many people can do what he does."


O'Day threw to new starting catcher Welington Castillo and said that he was looking forward to forming a productive relationship with him, but also expressed surprise that former Orioles catcher Matt Wieters remains unsigned.

"Absolutely, yeah," O'Day said. "Four-time All-Star. Pretty good player. I loved having him as a teammate. Surprised? You don't see — as much as these journalists try to get everything that's happening — you don't see it all, so I'm sure Matt has some offers out there that he's just not happy with. He'll find the right spot, hopefully soon."

Castillo's learning curve: Castillo caught both O'Day and Zach Britton on Wednesday, and that was no accident. O'Day has an unorthodox delivery and Britton has a nasty, sharp-breaking sinker, so it's important to get them in front of the new catcher as much as possible before he heads off to represent the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

"I'm trying not to dwell on it too much," Showalter said. "[Bench coach John Russell] and I were talking today about who Castillo is going to catch. It was X or Zach Britton. I said, 'No, Britton.' Every chance we get, I want Zach to feel comfortable. And I also want Welington to step back and say, 'OK, this is a different cat. I've really got to keep the ball down, work my way through it, not assume it's the end of the break.'

"That process has to start now. We've got to make use of all the time because he could be gone for three weeks. He knows that. He's a pleaser. He talks about it. This guy really wants to work on the things that he needs to work on."

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Roster moves: Recent addition Juan Francisco's minor league deal, which the club made official Wednesday, does not include an invitation to big league camp. He will report to minor league camp at Twin Lakes Park.

The Orioles also signed outfielder Michael Choice to a minor league deal Wednesday. Choice, 27, was a 2010 first-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics who spent last season with the Cleveland Indians' Triple-A affiliate. He has played in 96 major league games, most recently in 2015 with the Texas Rangers.

Catcher Francisco Pena was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday, with an invitation to major league spring training. Pena was removed from the 40-man roster to make room for right-hander Gabriel Ynoa.


Around the horn: Showalter said Manny Machado might play shortstop in early spring training games — if he wishes — to prepare for playing the position with the Dominican Republic team in the WBC. Adrian Beltre will likely be the starting third baseman for the Dominican team. … The second pitchers and catchers workout was abbreviated Wednesday to make the players and coaches available for the annual OriolesREACH Birdland Golf Classic, which benefits the Miracle League of Manasota.

Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.