Kemp eager to join winning atmosphere with Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Kemp eager to join winning atmosphere with Orioles

Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—On his first day in Baltimore, Tony Kemp had more important things on his mind than talking about how his deal with the Orioles came about.

The Orioles signed the veteran utilityman to a major league contract on Tuesday.

“First off, my heart goes out to the families that were affected by the [Key] Bridge collapsing today,” he began. “That was a tough scene to see, and I know a lot of people are hurting right now. I just want to say my family’s thoughts and prayers are going out to the families affected.”

Kemp, who was released by Cincinnati on March 19th, has hit .238 in eight seasons with Houston, the Chicago Cubs and Oakland.

He found out about the Orioles’ interest on Sunday.

“Once we heard about it, we were pretty excited,” he said. “Just being in a situation right here, it’s a great opportunity. This team has a good value, a lot of young talent. Playing against these guys you can understand the direction they’re going in. I’m excited to be excited about a club that’s going for a championship.”

A 32-year-old left-handed hitter, Kemp has played mostly left field and second base, though he’s also played some center field. He hasn’t had extensive talks with manager Brandon Hyde about playing time.

“I feel like my role is just whenever my name is called to be ready,” he said. “There’s a bunch of talent in this room. I’m excited to fit in any way I can … Help this team win some ballgames. It kind of reminds me of when I was with the Astros and all those times that we were going to the playoffs and winning championships. It reminds me of that kind of core group. I feel like I thrive in that role. Whatever they ask me, I’ll be ready.”

In 2023, Kemp hit .209 with five home runs and 27 RBIs with the Athletics, who lost a major league high 112 games. He stole a career-high 15 bases in 19 attempts. Last season, he walked four more times than he struck out (44/40).

Kemp is going from a team that lost the most games in baseball to one that won 101, the most in the American League.

“When I was around 4 years old, this is the first ballpark that I ever visited,” he said. “Brady Anderson was one of the first players I used to track. I was in Sykesville for a little bit, so kind of familiar with the area. There’s some history with this ballpark, so any time I was a visitor, I used to love playing here.

“There’s a lot of good positive atmosphere that’s going on in this clubhouse. Obviously, it’s a blessing to be a part of it. Once we start winning games and seeing what this vibe and what this energy is like, I feel like I’ll be able to thrive.”

Kemp hit .333 (7-for-21) with a home run and five RBIs in eight Cactus League games with the Reds this spring.

To make room for Kemp on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated infielder/outfielder Nick Maton for assignment. Maton was hitless in 23 at-bats this spring.

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