SARASOTA, Fla.—The Orioles released Eric Young Jr. on Friday. The 33-year-old outfielder, who signed a minor league contract on February 12, batted .323 (10-for-31) with a home run and 3 RBIs.
Young acknowledged he was “a little bit” surprised by the move, which leaves the Orioles with 34 players in camp.
“I told you earlier in the spring I’ve been through a lot of situations where there’s not too much that can shock me,” Young said.
Young was competing for a reserve outfielder’s job . The acquisition of Dwight Smith Jr., the strong spring of Joey Rickard and the emergence of Rule 5 player Drew Jackson, who has shown an ability to play the outfield, hurt Young’s chances.
“It’s part of the business,” Young said. “I’m happy with the spring that I’ve had…I had a great spring. I showed even at 33, I could hang with the young bucks.”
He did stay in camp longer than promising outfielders Yusniel Diaz, Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, but not long enough to make the team.
Young is a 10-year major league veteran who’s played with Colorado, the New York Mets, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels.
“I’m not worried,” Young said. “I did what I was supposed to do on my end. It was a business decision, and I know they have to do what’s best for the organization, and I’ve got to do what’s best for me now.”
Young, who did not have an opt-out option during the spring, said he will look around for a major league job.
“We’ll get the calls out there and see what’s needed,” Young said. “I know, just hearing rumblings, that a few teams out there need a fourth outfielder. With that, plus what I’ve been able to do this spring, I feel comfortable.”
Young said the Orioles told him “if nothing else comes, they would love to have me back in the organization, but obviously they said, considering the spring I had, [they would] give me the opportunity to see what’s out there.”
Orioles general manager Mike Elias lauded Young in a statement: “Eric has looked and played great this spring. Once we determined he was unlikely to make our Opening Day roster, we felt we would allow him to look around for a little while. We plan to keep talking to him in case he doesn’t find a better opportunity.”
Young said he is not ready to retire.
“I’ll keep playing,” Young said. “I enjoyed what I did this spring. I had a lot of fun out there. I showed myself and everyone else that I can still do it.”
Young was impressed with the young outfielders.
“The sky’s the limit for them,” he said. “I’m excited to see what they do here in the future. A lot of talent. Now, they just need the experience. I’m obviously out of the race, but I have a lot of love for all the guys, and I want to see the best for them.”
The Orioles were also expected to add catcher Jesus Sucre to the 40-man roster. He said early Friday afternoon that he hadn’t heard anything officially but was on the team’s trip to Dunedin to play the Toronto Blue Jays.