After missing the 2008 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Danys Baez -- who is still under contract to the Baltimore Orioles for one more year -- is looking for spot.
With the emergence of Jim Johnson and George Sherill in late inning relief, Baez may be shut out of a relief job, thus, he now has his eyes on an starter's spot.
It's not like the Orioles have a dearth of starting pitching. Aside from Guthrie, Baltimore does not have a reliable starter, and at this point anyone who can throw strikes plus get batters out could conceivably have a role in the rotation.
With as many as four openings in their 2009 rotation, the Orioles aren't ruling out any candidates to start, and that includes Danys Baez.
Baez, who hasn't pitched in a major league game since September 2007 and is trying to come back from ligament-reconstruction surgery, has informed team officials he wants to be a starter in the coming season. Signed to a three-year, $19million deal after the 2006 season to set up closer Chris Ray, Baez hasn't started a game since 2002, when he went 10-11 with a 4.41ERA in making 26 starts for the Cleveland Indians.
"He's expressed some interest in preparing himself as a starter, and we'll see how things go from there," Orioles president Andy MacPhail said. "It seems to make sense. I don't know if you lose anything by doing that. Preparing yourself that you are going to start is not going to retard your development whatever the role you end up being in."
Barring a trade, the back end of the Orioles' bullpen is mostly set with Ray, George Sherrill and Jim Johnson, meaning Baez's best shot to fill a key role for the 2009 Orioles is probably in their rotation. Only right-hander Jeremy Guthrie is a lock for next year's group.
For anyone who saw Baez in 2007, let's say a lot of his outings on the mound may have been cringe worthy -- however, at this point, we might as well see what he's got.