Chirinos adds veteran presence to Orioles; Infielder Chris Owings signs; Mattson has sore shoulder - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Chirinos adds veteran presence to Orioles; Infielder Chris Owings signs; Mattson has sore shoulder

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

SARASOTA, Florida—The Orioles have only three players on the 40-man roster over 30, though Trey Mancini will celebrate his 30th birthday on Friday.

Until Monday, Cole Sulser, who turned 32 on Sunday, was the Orioles’ oldest player. Jordan Lyles, who’s 31, was the second oldest.

When catcher Robinson Chirinos plays in a regular-season game for the Orioles he’ll be the oldest player used by the team since 41-year-old Jim Thome in 2012.

The Orioles also signed 30-year-old veteran infielder Chris Owings to a minor league contract on Tuesday.

The Orioles could another veteran presence, especially with 24-year-old Adley Rutschman expected to be the No. 1 catcher.

“It was not mentioned to me, but I figured that was something they had in the back of their mind,” Chirinos said.  “That’s something that’s on me. I love to help people, and I can help people around me here and make them better. That’s what Dad taught me when I was a kid, so that’s what I’ve been doing since I was a little boy. I’m sure I’ll find ways to help people around me and [help] them understand how the league works.”

In 2021, Chirinos missed the first half of the season because of a broken right wrist and played 45 games for the Chicago Cubs, hitting .227 with five home runs and 15 RBIs.

Manager Brandon Hyde likes having some older players to mentor his young players.

“I think it does help,” Hyde said. “I saw Robinson back in 2007. We were talking about that yesterday. Especially someone like him and like Chris that have been a part of winning teams, on different teams, just their journey to get here.

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“When you play as long as Robinson has, you’re doing something right. You’re not only just a good player, but you’re good in the clubhouse. It’s easy to see right now already how influential he’s going to be just because of his experience, just a great guy and willing to lend a hand with anything. I’m really excited to have him with us.”

Chirinos, who signed for a reported $900,000 with $75,000 in incentives and a $100,000 payment if he’s traded, has played for five major league teams.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Chirinos said. “It’s really a young, talented team.”

Chirinos had an excellent mentor, Henry Blanco, a fellow Venezuelan catcher who played for 11 major league teams in 16 seasons. He helped Chirinos make the transition from infield to catching.

“He was there calling me, talked to me a lot about receiving, blocking,” Chirinos said. “I can’t thank him enough [for] helping me get where I am right now.”

There weren’t many free-agent catchers on the market but waiting during the 99-day lockout was tough.

“I think it was difficult for everybody, not only for the free agents,” Chirinos said. “I had faith we were going to [get] back to the field, just keep myself ready for when that time was going to come.”

Infielder added: Owings will enter the utility infielder competition. The 30-year-old has hit .243 in nine seasons with Arizona, Kansas City, Boston and Colorado. He also has played each outfield position.

In his last two seasons, Owings has been limited to 38 games with the Rockies and had two left thumb surgeries in 2021.

“Add an another infielder who can play all over the place,” Hyde said. “A lot of these guys have played multiple spots so we have some moveable pieces.

“He’s going to do some light stuff today. He literally just passed everything and signed, some light stuff today, a full workout tomorrow, but I’ve seen Chris for a long time. I know he can play short and the middle of the field. He’s one of the guys that’s going to have a chance to make the team, excited to add some veteran middle infielders.”

Owings tied for the major league lead with 11 triples in 2016 with Arizona. He hit a career high .277 that season.

According to Robert Murray of FanSided, the Orioles have an agreement on a minor league deal with right-hander Conner Greene, who was 1-3 with a 7.71 ERA in 22 games with the Orioles last season.

Injury update: Right-handed pitcher Isaac Mattson has a sore right shoulder and could be out for at least a month, Hyde said.

Rutschman has right elbow soreness. He played in an intrasquad game on Friday and Hyde hopes he’ll be back in a day or two. Infielder Shed Long, who had shin surgery, and right-handed pitcher Rico Garcia, who had Tommy John surgery a year ago, aren’t ready for full baseball activities, Hyde said.

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