The Orioles have finally made the long-awaited decision to switch Radhames Liz to a relief role. Baltimore, which had toyed with the idea of letting Liz compete for a rotation berth, have instead decided that he best fits in a bullpen role.
Liz was told about that decision Monday and seemed relieved to hear it.
“I feel pretty comfortable with that,” said Liz. “I think I’ve got a better chance to make the team in the bullpen. But I think I can do both things.”
Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said he had hoped Liz would be in the mix a little more as a starter but still held out hope that he could thrive in the bullpen.
“In my mind, he’s got to make the team as a reliever,” he said. “We’re going to start putting him in situations for that. There’s only so many innings and they’re really running out on a lot of guys. We’ve got to make decisions in time for him to get it done in the bullpen He’s not making the team out of the bullpen right now.”
If you already thought the Orioles had a wide open situation regarding their starting rotation, you might want to sit down. Koji Uehara announced Tuesday that he has a slight strain of the left hamstring, an ailment that will likely cause him to miss at least one spring start.
The right-hander expressed optimism that he’ll be able to pitch well before Opening Day, but he also admitted that he’s had a prior history of hamstring problems. And here’s why it’s especially dire for Baltimore: Uehara was one of the only sure things in the rotation.
The Orioles have been trying to settle the final three slots of their rotation, and they’ve been stymied thus far by elbow injuries to Brad Hennessey and Rich Hill and a shoulder ailment for John Parrish. Hennessey and Parrish are far enough behind that they’ve already been declared out of the running, and similar word on Hill could come down any day.
For now, it appears that Brad Bergesen, Radhames Liz, David Pauley and Matt Albers have enhanced shots at breaking camp in the starting rotation. The Orioles will also evaluate Adam Eaton, who signed with the team after being released by the Phillies.
The Orioles reached terms with several of their younger players on Thursday, most notably center fielder Adam Jones and right-handed starter Radhamez Liz. Jones will make $435,000 if he’s in the Majors and could earn a $25,000 bonus if he makes the All-Star team. Liz, meanwhile, signed a split contract worth $147,644 in the Minors and $402,500 in the Majors.
Baltimore also reached terms with relievers Kam Mickolio and Jim Miller on split contracts worth $65,000 in the Minor Leagues and $400,000 in the Majors.
Lou Montanez, who won the Triple Crown in the Double-A Eastern League last year, signed a split deal worth $76,188 in the Minors and $400,000 in the Majors. And finally, Wilfrido Perez signed a split contract worth $32,500 and $400,000 if he’s able to make the Majors.