BALTIMORE—Dan Straily’s addition to the Orioles’ pitching staff makes it likely the team will do away with its experiment with the opener, at least for the foreseeable future.
Straily, a 30-year-old right-hander the Orioles signed on Friday, hasn’t pitched since March 22, three days before the Miami Marlins released him.
“I thought I was being called in to be told what game I was starting to start the season,” Straily said. “I’m glad that chapter is over.”
Although he won’t be ready to start for a short time, Straily said that he threw 100 pitches eight days ago and 50 pitches on Wednesday.
Part of the attraction of signing with the Orioles was the opportunity to start.
“They called me right away,” Straily said. “’If this is something you’re interested in, let us know.’ It materialized pretty quickly once we had that going. For me, I was more interested in starting games than going to the bullpen, and this was one of the few places that gave me that opportunity right away.”
Straily has pitched with Oakland, the Chicago Cubs, Houston, Cincinnati and Miami. He was on teams with several of the Orioles’ coaches, including pitching coach Doug Brocail and bullpen coach John Wasdin.
He was briefly on the Cubs in 2014 when Hyde was a coach, and the Astros in 2015 when Elias was in their front office.
“He’s just a guy that eats innings, has a good slider, knows how to pitch, just a competitor, really excited to have him,” Hyde said. “We’re going to utilize him out of the bullpen for a while and kind of ramp him up and join the rotation at some point.”
Straily’s addition meant the subtraction of Rule 5 utility player Drew Jackson. The Orioles felt a move to 13 pitchers was best because of the number of short starts.
“The last five, six years, he’s been an established big league starter,” Hyde said. “To acquire that, to add that to our rotation mix was something we felt would be beneficial, not only to our rotation but to our bullpen guys as well. Not taxing them too much, want to make sure that we’re keeping everybody healthy.”
Hyde has been using Nate Karns as an opener and could continue with that the next time a starter is needed, and a move to a five-man rotation doesn’t mean the opener won’t be used anymore.
”A lot of things change over the next six months,” Hyde said. “I’m not saying it’s the all-end, but we’d like to slide him into the rotation.”
Straily joins a rotation that includes two other starters, Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb, who are over 30. Karns is also over 30. Straily hopes to be a mentor the younger pitchers.
“I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of years,” Straily said. “The older your get in baseball, the more your job is to lead by example. ‘This is how we work, this is how we prepare, this how we stay focused.’
“Be ready to answer questions if anyone has anything. A lot of times over the years, I’ve noticed the questions about being successful and winning in the big leagues don’t have much to do with baseball. That’s the one thing each guy in this room is really gifted at.”
Straily says younger players want to know how to be yourself, and where to live.
“Those are the kind of things that really make an impact on how to be comfortable,” he said.
Straily’s contract with the Orioles is $575,000 plus a $250,000 assignment bonus if he’s traded. Although the Orioles will likely move veterans for prospects in July, he says he’s focused on the present.
“While I’m here, I’m 100 percent committed to here, wherever here is.” Straily said. “I’ve been in a lot of different places in my career, but I can tell you that each place I’ve been here. I’ve been 100 percent committed to that specific spot while I was there.”
Straily’s addition meant the end for Jackson, whom the Orioles will attempt to reacquire if he passes through waivers.
“Hated to see Drew go,” Hyde said. “Think he’s got big-time upside, like him as a player. He’s a pro, had a great spring training, and was doing some nice things here, just was a numbers thing, and feel like we needed an extra arm.
“I hope I get the opportunity to manage him again at some point. I just loved how professional he was and how he came to the ballpark, ready to play. I played him probably more than anybody in spring training, and all over the place, and never complained and got a ton of at-bats and played as hard as he could.”
This week the Orioles also waived pitcher Pedro Araujo just 11 days before the end of his Rule 5 status. Araujo, who passed through waivers, was reacquired from the Cubs in exchange for $750,000 in international signing bonus money.
Hyde says that he likes Elias’ aggressive philosophy in building a club.
“Any time Mike and the fellas think we can improve in an area, they’re going to do anything we can to make that happen,” Hyde said. “I think Mike’s been very transparent about improving the talent level in the whole organization and when they feel like there’s an opportunity to that, they will. They’ve been doing that so far.”
In another move, right-handed pitcher Matt Wotherspoon, who was added to the roster when Araujo was removed and allowed three runs in two innings on Wednesday, cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Norfolk.
Note: Catcher Austin Wynns, who’s on the 10-day injured list because of a sore left oblique, is progressing well in Sarasota, Fla., and should be ready for game action within the next two weeks, Hyde said.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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