Orioles notebook: Baltimore is trying to add bullpen depth with Luis Ayala


Luis Ayala was released by the Nationals following a rough spring training. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
March 20

The Orioles are working on a minor league deal with right-hander Luis Ayala, according to industry sources.

Ayala, who was a valuable reliever on the Orioles’ 2012 playoff team, was released by the Washington Nationals on Wednesday following a rough spring training in which he allowed nine runs and 10 hits in six innings.

The move would give the Orioles added bullpen depth with a familiar reliever.

Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said he had not been told as of Thursday evening that a deal had been agreed to.

When completed, the 36-year-old Ayala would report to minor league camp in Twin Lakes Park. The deal is believed to be a split contract that would pay Ayala a separate daily salary rate if his contract is purchased by the major league club.

Ayala was 5-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 75 innings over 66 games for the Orioles in 2012. Before the 2012 season, he signed a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $925,000 with a $1 million club option for 2013.

The Orioles exercised that club-friendly option, but they traded Ayala to the Atlanta Braves last April in exchange for minor league left-hander Chris Jones, a move that made it easier to retain Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland in a crowded bullpen. Jones was added to the 40-man roster this season, but he was released earlier this spring and later re-signed. Jones was with the club Thursday in Bradenton against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ayala was 1-1 with a 2.90 ERA in 37 games with the Braves last year, but he missed 64 games with an anxiety disorder.

The Orioles already have several right-handed relievers competing for the final bullpen spot, including Josh Stinson (who is out of minor league options), Brad Brach, Steve Johnson and nonroster pitchers Evan Meek and Alfredo Aceves.

The latest on Machado

Showalter said the team hadn’t heard from Manny Machado about his follow-up appointment late Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles.

ESPN.com, however, quoted Machado’s surgeon, Neal ElAttrache, as saying the third baseman’s left knee is “tracking normally” and he has been cleared to continue with his rehabilitation. There is still no timetable as to when he can play in games.

The Orioles anticipated ElAttrache would give his clearance, but Showalter has said previously all that means is Machado can continue with his rehab program.

When Machado is ready — he has been held back from running for a week because of the release of scar tissue — Showalter said it is likely he would play in minor league games so he can build up his at-bats.

That also would make it possible to back-date a disabled list stint if necessary.

Gonzalez held out

Infielder Alex Gonzalez hasn’t played since Saturday, and Showalter said the reason was because the club is waiting for results from an endoscopy and colonoscopy that Gonzalez underwent earlier this week. Showalter said doctors found something on Gonzalez’s physical that they wanted to investigate further. But Gonzalez, who is fighting for the utility infield job, could be back playing as early as Friday.

Lough returns

Outfielder David Lough, who hadn’t played since March 12 against the Philadelphia Phillies because of a stiff neck and concussion symptoms, was cleared to play Thursday in a reserve role against the Pirates after the Orioles ran a battery of tests and everything came out negative.

— Baltimore Sun

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