The Baltimore Orioles have answered one of the questions about how they will handle their outfield logjam.
On Tuesday, Michael Bourn decided to opt-out of his minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles.
That gave the team a window of about 24-hours to make a decision on whether to promote Bourn to the major leagues or release him from his contract.
On Wednesday morning, the team chose to release the outfielder from his contract, making him a free agent, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko on Twitter.
Now, is that a statement on Bourn’s current ability, or the Orioles’ outfield? The answer is both.
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The two-time All-Star was attempting to make the Baltimore Orioles out of Spring Training when he suffered a broken finger while trying to catch a football.
Bourn rehabbed and joined the Norfolk Tides where he was hitting .220/.373/.317 with nine hits, two triples, eight runs, three stolen bases in 51 plate appearances. The 34-year-old showed his speed is still there for the Tides but struggled at the plate.
The Orioles probably looked at Bourn and felt more comfortable with Craig Gentry, who is also at AAA Norfolk. The only thing is that Gentry has already passed through waivers and does not have to be in the major leagues.
Who knows, Bourn may go unsigned and join the Baltimore Orioles again as a minor leaguer. But, there just isn’t room for him in the outfield with the Birds.
It isn’t hard to see why this is the case. Seth Smith has been what the Orioles were looking for. A guy who works the count, has a high on-base percentage, a little power and does a good job in the outfield.
Trey Mancini has blossomed into a major league hitter who continues to get start after start, no matter whether the Orioles are facing a left-handed pitcher or a right-handed pitcher. The young outfielder has hit well, include his early-season barrage of home runs.
Mancini also has shown himself to be an adept and improving outfielder. No, he isn’t as athletic as Joey Rickard or Gentry or Bourn, but he does an excellent job in taking good routes and getting to the ball.
That leaves Joey Rickard and Hyun Soo Kim, two more outfielders, on the bench for most games. Rickard continues to offer the Orioles a speed element and also a guy who can play all three outfield positions. He has speed in the field and at the plate and is one of the team’s leaders in stolen bases.
Kim is considered a forgotten one by his many supporters. He has fallen out of the Orioles’ big picture this year, but I think that is more due to Mancini’s success than anything Kim did.
With Bourn’s release, the Orioles have helped deal with one of the opt-outs that the team faced. The next will come from Edwin Jackson, but I mainly expect him to be in the major leagues for the Orioles.
Maybe even as early as this weekend, depending on how things shake out with the rotation and Ubaldo Jimenez.