Wait Is Over For Orioles' Urrutia
SARASOTA, Fla.—The wait for Henry Urrutia is over, and it took just seven months.
The Cuban outfielder, who agreed to terms with the Orioles last July, obtained his work visa and was able to leave Haiti. He arrived in Miami in late February and took his physical in Sarasota.
Urrutia agreed to a $778,500 bonus from the Orioles over the summer, but he hadn't been paid because the club couldn't get him into the U.S. The original planned called for him to open this season at Double-A Bowie.
"He needs to get in shape and we need to see how far along he is," general manager Dan Duquette said. "He needs to get the rust off. I'm not sure how much he was able to train in Haiti."
Urrutia, 26, batted .397/.461/.597 with 12 homers, 32 walks and 23 strikeouts in 305 at-bats in his final season in Cuba.
He played for Las Tunas in Serie Nacional from 2006-10 and batted .350 with 72 doubles, nine triples, 33 home runs, 219 RBIs and 209 runs.
The 6-foot-4 switch-hitter didn't play in 2011 due to a suspension after an unsuccessful attempt at defection. That's what Duquette means by "rust."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter invited Urrutia to attend a team meeting and introduced him to everyone in camp. He was formally introduced to the media in early March.
"He's pretty excited to be here," Showalter said. "His wife is still in Haiti. He doesn't have any children.
"He's a good-looking kid. It's exciting to get him in the mix. And when we get all this stuff taken care of, then we can pay him. I'm sure he's real excited about that."
It's too early to determine where Urrutia will begin the 2013 season.
"Let's see where he is," Duquette said.
• Major league Rule 5 draft pick T.J. McFarland got off to a rough start in spring training, allowing three runs in his first 21⁄3 innings. He also struggled in an intrasquad game. However, the Orioles will take a long look at him before deciding whether to expose him to waivers and offer the lefthander back to the Indians.
• Minor league catcher Luis Martinez strained his left oblique early in camp and didn't play in the Orioles' first seven exhibition games. He still hadn't been cleared to begin baseball activities, so his return wasn't imminent.