Showalter speaks

Orioles manager Buck Showalter held court with the media on
Tuesday afternoon, touching base on a wide variety of topics concerning the
organization’s offseason and where it hopes to be for next spring.

Showalter echoed president of baseball operations Andy
MacPhail’s confidence that the O’s will shore up their bullpen soon, adding
that the organization will place an emphasis on veteran relievers.

“We are trying to attack the bullpen,” Showalter said. “Get
more of a proven area, some guys with good track records and [we] feel like we
are fairly close on some of those things. 
I think hopefully we can get Jimmy Johnson for a full year, if he comes
back for a full year and he’s healthy for the full year, he adds a couple of
track record guys down there.”

The O’s have several offers out and have been linked to
Kevin Gregg, Jesse Crain, Grant Balfour, Scott Downs and Brian Fuentes, among
others. They also feel good about their chances to retain Japanese right-hander
Koji Uehara. MacPhail said Tuesday night that he felt better about Uehara’s
situation than he had just that morning, and the teams could be close to
reaching an agreement.

“We would like to
get him back, if we could get something both parties are comfortable with,”
Showalter said of Uehara, who was highly effective but is injury-prone. “I’m
comfortable with the rate and process that they are moving through.”

Showalter also touched
on a variety of issues involving the Orioles present roster, and said that
there are no indications second baseman Brian Roberts -who missed most of the season
with a back injury – won’t be ready this spring.

Still, the O’s are looking for a utility player
who can play second base, added insurance given the organization’s lack of
positional depth. Showalter said shortstop Cesar Izturis is an option if the
team does not resign the free agent at short, and the O’s are also looking
within at guys like Robert Andino.

As for the
departure of Ty Wigginton, a player Showalter made no secret he held in high
regard, the O’s manager said he was excited to see the utility infielder sign
a favorable two-year deal with Colorado.

“As a baseball
player, I think Ty is really staging his career, he really knows what he needs
to bring and he’s a winning player,” Showalter said.   “He’s
good people, and I’m excited for them.  I
just wish him the best because I hope every guy gets to have guys like
Wiggy.  I know [manager Jim Tracey] will
like him.”

As expected, Showalter
played coy when asked about specific trades or timelines for when the Orioles
might make their next move. In addition to relief help, the team still would
like to add a shortstop and first baseman as well as another veteran starter to
help take the pressure off Jeremy Guthrie. Showalter did confirm that the
Orioles acquisition for third baseman Mark Reynolds doesn’t rule out bringing
on another high-strikeout hitter such as Carlos Pena, so long as that player is
a “run-reducer” and plays good defense.

“It’s a process,”
said Showalter, who is at the Winter Meetings as a manager for the first time since
2005.  “It not a place where you dwell on
something that doesn’t work on.  You have
to have Plan B, C, D, whatever, move on.”

At the end of the
day, all of those things will make you a little bit better but if not - [MacPhail
has] been pretty much right on about how the market and everything was going to
play for the most part.  It’s a moving
target. You know, I like the possibility
of doing some things before we leave here.”

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