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Two days after he opted out of his minor league contract with the Orioles, and a day after he signed a major league contract with the team, Wade LeBlanc said that he didn’t want to leave the Orioles.
“It’s kind of hectic, to he honest with you,” LeBlanc said on Saturday. “You’re using that opt-out to kind of scan the landscape around the league and see what else is out there but for me, personally, I never wanted to leave this organization.
“I wanted to be here. I wanted to figure out a way to work this out. Fortunately, for us, it did, so excited to move forward.”
Last year, LeBlanc, 36, also came to camp on a minor league deal, made the team and was 1-0 with an 8.06 ERA in six starts before his season ended on August 23rd when he fractured his elbow.
After signing with the team early last month, LeBlanc again came to camp on a minor league deal. He has posted a 2.25 ERA in eight innings.
LeBlanc was given a place on the major league roster and earn $700,000 in 2021 while he’s in the big leagues but was given no promises. The Orioles are LeBlanc’s eighth major league team.
“They said we would have a roster spot,” LeBlanc said. “For somebody out of options, unless you come here and blow up in the last three or four days of camp, that usually is a good sign for me, but I’m not taking anything for granted. A couple more outings, and I’m going to try to reward their faith and go from there.”
John Means will start the season’s opening game on April 1st in Boston. Dean Kremer, Matt Harvey, who starts on Sunday and was awarded a roster spot on Thursday, Jorge López and Bruce Zimmermann are also competing for a starting spot.
If the Orioles go with six starters, LeBlanc could be the sixth. If they go with five, LeBlanc and Zimmermann, both left-handers, could start or be used in long relief.
“I’ve never had a preference with role,” LeBlanc said. “It’s always been about being in the big leagues, putting on a uniform and playing in front of some fans. Whether that’s coming out of the bullpen, whether that’s throwing the first pitch of the game, that’s irrelevant. When they give me the ball, I throw it. When they say ,‘that’s enough,’ I give it back to them.
“Whether that’s in the fifth inning, first inning, eighth inning, doesn’t matter.”
Beginning the season at Bowie next month isn’t a consideration for LeBlanc.
“There’s no discussions about the alternate site,” LeBlanc said. “For me, it’s got to be here, give them everything I’ve got in Baltimore. If it doesn’t work, for whatever reason, we revisit things, but for now, the focus is to go north with the team and give them everything I have.”
LeBlanc said the Orioles reached out to him regularly after his injury and helped him raise money for victims of Hurricane Laura, which damaged his hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “It’s a really good feeling to know they value something that you bring to the table. It’s about keeping my head down, keeping my nose clean and trying to be here for these young kids and being here for this organization like they were for me this offseason.”
Manager Brandon Hyde spoke with LeBlanc on Wednesday.
“We sat down and talked for a while,” LeBlanc said. “It was a great talk. He said he hoped it worked out here. I said the same thing. My feelings were the same. I hoped it worked out here. I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I let him know that. It was a really good talk, and I’m excited to move forward.”
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