K-Rod gives O's good option at closing time
Veteran reliever surprised, happy about trade from Milwaukee to Baltimore
KANSAS CITY -- New Orioles reliever Francisco Rodriguez admitted on Wednesday that he wasn't surprised he was traded from the Brewers, but was shocked that it was to Baltimore.
"There was a lot of teams linking to rumors outside [of Milwaukee], and Baltimore was not one of them," said Rodriguez, who experienced a similar situation when he was traded from the New York Mets. "So, it was a shock. But at the same time, happy."
The 31-year-old Rodriguez is 1-1 with 10 saves and a 1.09 ERA, along with 26 strikeouts and nine walks in 25 appearances after signing a Minor League deal with the Brewers in April. He spent the following month in the Minors and said not having to go through Spring Training has him fresher than in past seasons. The right-hander has recorded double-digit saves in nine of the last 10 seasons, including a Major League record 62 with the Angels in 2008, and he will be another late-inning option for Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Could K-Rod also be another closing option to go along with current closer Jim Johnson?
"No more than Darren O'Day or Tommy Hunter, or if the matchups are right [Brian] Matusz or [Troy] Patton, [Jairo] Asencio ... if it fits," Showalter said. "I feel comfortable that we have a lot of people capable of doing it. He knows and our guys know what he's here for and it's another good what if? You can't pitch every day, so there are days when a win presents itself and you need to have other weapons."
"Hopefully, I can take some pressure off the guys a little bit and help them out the best I can," Rodriguez said. "I've been used to a heavy workload. To me, it's normal. Hopefully my experience can bring another piece to them and set up more roles."
Valencia sent to Triple-A with Urrutia in mind
KANSAS CITY -- Danny Valencia was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk prior to Wednesday's game against the Royals to clear a roster spot for new Orioles reliever Francisco Rodriguez, giving manager Buck Showalter an eight-man bullpen and a chance to take an extended look at designated hitter Henry Urrutia.
Urrutia, in the starting lineup for the third time since being promoted on Friday, figures to get some at-bats the next few days with the Orioles slated to face four consecutive right-handed starters.
"We'll see what each day brings and what the needs of our players are every night, including Henry," Showalter said. "Initially, that's the idea, but we'll see what each day presents.
Showalter has been impressed with Urrutia's at-bats in a small sample size, with the rookie going 4-for-12 with two RBIs entering Wednesday. While reliever Jair Asencio, a likely candidate to be optioned, would have had to go on waivers, the right-handed hitting Valencia has options and will go back to being an everyday player at Norfolk.
"There's a lot of reasons," Showalter said. "I want Danny to get some consistent at-bats [at Norfolk] again. He went down there last time and swung the bat real well. I want to err on the side of pitching anytime we can, but things could change."
Showalter, O's honored with Legacy Awards
KANSAS CITY -- A trio of Orioles were honored by the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City on Wednesday afternoon, with manager Buck Showalter, center fielder Adam Jones and closer Jim Johnson receiving Legacy Awards for their accomplishments last season.
Showalter accepted the C.I. Taylor Award honoring him as the 2012 American League Manager of the Year, his second such award. Johnson, who led the AL with 53 saves in 2012, was the Hilton Smith Award recipient and Jones was honored with the "Pop" Lloyd Award presented for "baseball and community leadership."
"We don't do this for recognition," Jones said. "Our on-field play is a testament to our hard work. I think we all understand what we mean to our individual communities. We all try to do our part."
The trio were treated to a special tour of the Museum by president Bob Kendrick before the ceremony, which took place on the Field of Legends. Johnson, Showalter and Jones couldn't attend the award ceremonies held this winter due to scheduling conflicts.
"Getting this award is special and learning where this [award] came from. It's a great history lesson while we're here and we enjoyed it," Johnson said. "You really didn't understand what they had to go through to get to the next level, the times they to deal with, some of the barriers they broke."
The Legacy Awards were established by the NLBM in 2000 and annually recognize the best baseball players, managers and executives with awards named for Negro League legends such as Taylor, Smith, Lloyd, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Rube Foster and Buck O'Neil.
• The Orioles officially announced the signing of 24-year-old outfielder Dariel Alvarez to a Minor League contract. Alvarez will be assigned to Class A Frederick after reporting to Sarasota, Fla., this week. The signing was first reported last week by MLB.com.
• There is interest in outfielder Chris Dickerson, who was designated for assignment on Friday, and the expectation is he will be elsewhere in the big leagues in the next few days. The Phillies and Yankees are reportedly among those with interest.
• Steve Johnson pitched 2 1/3 innings -- allowing two runs on three hits and a walk -- for short-season Class A Aberdeen on Wednesday as he continues to work his way back from a left oblique strain.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.