SAN DIEGO—Orioles outfielder DJ Stewart underwent surgery on his right ankle in late October, and general manger Mike Elias said that the surgery went well.
“He’s going to have an abbreviated spring training,” Elias said on Tuesday.
“The exact amount of time he’s going to lose is still a little TBD, and also whether that will bleed into April and whether he will have to hold back and stay at the complex or go on a little mini-rehab assignment or something, that’s going to be TBD.”
Stewart injured the ankle in Arlington, Texas on June 5 and what the Orioles hoped would be his first prolonged stint in the major leagues was cut short.
He missed two months because of the ankle injury and finished the season with a .238 average. Stewart had four home runs and 15 RBIs.
Elias discussed Stewart’s recovery with agent Scott Boras, who represent the 26-year-old outfielder.
“We wanted to make sure he’s able to stay in shape and lift and work out to the best of his ability with the ankle healing,” Elias said.
Stewart’s injury doesn’t appear to affect the Orioles’ plans.
“I look at it more that some of our internal options at the corner outfield might have … a little more of an audition in spring training because of the at-bats DJ will be missing,” Elias said.
“Whether that’s Dwight Smith, whether that’s [Ryan] Mountcastle to the degree which we put him in the corner outfield. Obviously, [Trey] Mancini doesn’t need to win a job. He’s a corner outfielder, [Anthony] Santander. We have plenty that deserve competition. Yusniel Diaz is entering that mix and will continue to be a big part of spring training.
“There are guys that deserve those at-bats that we feel we can use them on. If we do a minor league spring training outfielder, I would wager that it would probably be more of a center field, glove man, but you never know. If the right deal comes along, we’ll look at corner guys, too.”
Elias said that Mountcastle would play more left field in spring training, but also would play right, first and third base.
“He’s in a little bit of a weird spot right now where he can play at a number of positions, but he hasn’t really mastered any one of those,” Elias said.
‘We’ve got to figure out which way to steer that in the early going because we want to still continue to play in the infield, play in the outfield, but we also need to ramp up his outfield exposure quickly.”
Orioles need bullpen help: While most of the attention has focused on the Orioles’ need for starting pitchers, they also need bullpen help.
Oriole starters had a 5.57 ERA in 2019, and the bullpen had a 5.79 ERA.
“I think we’re looking for talent there,” Elias said. “I think that a bullpen move from us would probably more likely be [a non-roster signing] because we do have some young bullpen talent. It’s not the case you need a certain number of relievers to soak up the innings like you do with the starters.
“I think we would concentrate our resources more on the rotation and let it have a trickle-down effect on the bullpen.”
Quiet on the rumor front: With little money earmarked to spend on free-agent signings, the Orioles have barely been mentioned in rumors this week.
One of the few mentions was that the Orioles are one of four teams showing interest in Jose Peraza, a 25-year-old infielder who wasn’t offered a contract by Cincinnati last week.
Peraza, who hit .239 with six home runs and 33 RBIs in 141 games for the Reds in 2019, plays second base and shortstop. He also plays left and right field.
Infielder Jonathan Villar, who was dealt to Miami on December 2 in a cost-cutting move, stole 40 bases in 2019. Peraza stole 67 bases from 2016-2018 but only seven last season.
Peraza’s analytics aren’t strong. He has a lifetime .5 WAR. In 2019, he made $2.775,000.
Adam Jones goes to Japan: Former Oriole centerfielder Adam Jones made official his move to Japan when he signed a two-year contract with an option for 2022.
According to The Athletic, Jones’ contract with the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Baseball League is worth $8 million and could be worth $15.5 million if all incentives are met.
“Well it’s that time in my career and life my family and I hades to make a HUGE decision, and so that is what we have done!!! MLB has been mazing to myself and my family. We had an incredible run,” Jones wrote on Twitter.
Kevin Gausman signs, too: Some Oriole fans hoped that starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, who wasn’t offered a contract by the Cincinnati Reds, would re-sign with the Orioles.
Gausman signed a one-year, $9 million contract with the San Francisco Giants with up to $1 million in performance bonuses