SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Johnny Oates has placed a premium on versatility, which explains why utility player Tim Hulett took part in the first official workout at Twin Lakes Park yesterday.
The first six days of workouts are reserved for pitchers, catchers and players who are rehabilitating injuries. Hulett's presence is an indication that his role as an emergency catcher will be taken more seriously this year.
"John is working him as a catcher," general manager Roland Hemond said. "He wants to give Tim extra work here so he'll be prepared for it. He'll be catching a lot of pitchers here."
Hulett played at three infield positions last year, but was not called upon to catch. There are no plans to use him there in the regular season.
"There's a good chance he'll catch some this spring in exhibition and intrasquad games," Oates said, "but I don't know how much."
That will be something of a new experience for the 33-year-old Hulett, who cannot remember when he played catcher in a real game.
"I caught a Pony League all-star practice once," he said, "and I caught Kevin Hickey in a simulated game when Glenn Davis came back from the disabled list in 1991. It's a new challenge. I had fun today, but you better ask me about it tomorrow."
Clements coming back?
Reliever Pat Clements still is unsigned, and there appears to be a chance that he'll eventually rejoin the Orioles. He was not offered arbitration by the Dec. 8 deadline, so he is prohibited from rejoining the team until May 1. But it is possible to get a waiver to come to spring training.
"What they [Clements and his agent] would have to do is contact the players association and make a request," Hemond said. "There is a possibility that they could clear it with the other clubs."
Agent Nick Lampros said yesterday that Clements has petitioned the Major League Baseball Players Association for a waiver, but there has been no response. If it is blocked, Lampros said there still is the possibility that Clements could sign with the Orioles on May 1.
Clements was 2-0 with a 3.28 ERA in 23 games after he was claimed off waivers from the San Diego Padres on July 10.
Gomez reports early
Third baseman Leo Gomez is taking part in early workouts. He spent the winter rehabilitating the loose shoulder capsule that led to a shoulder dislocation late last season.
"Leo is healthy, and he looks good," Oates said. "He's 10 pounds under what he came in at last year. I took him aside [last year] and told him that the days when Mickey and Yogi came to camp to get in shape are over. This year, almost everybody out there could play today if they had to."
The Orioles' medical staff is hopeful that the exercise program that Gomez undertook during the winter will be enough to hold his shoulder in place this year. If not, there remains the possibility of shoulder surgery sometime in the future.
Davis to report today
First baseman/DH Davis is expected to be in uniform for today's workout. Davis continues to rehabilitate his back in the hope of returning to first base on a regular basis. He appeared in only two games at first last year, but has told club officials that he will be more than just a designated hitter this year. Davis spent the off-season working with fitness specialist Mackie Shilstone, who is known for his work with heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe.
Tackett almost 100 percent
Reserve catcher Jeff Tackett, who broke his left collarbone in a bicycle accident in November, has been cleared to take part in all activities that do not put him at risk of collision.
"He's hitting and throwing," Oates said. "He has to undergo one more X-ray at the end of February. The doctors feel it would be better if he wasn't involved in a collision at home plate."
Two players sign
Rule V draftee Sherman Obando and minor-league pitcher Mike Oquist signed one-year contracts yesterday, reducing to 12 the number of Orioles players who remain unsigned.
The list of unsigned players: pitchers Alan Mills, Mike Mussina, Arthur Rhodes and Anthony Telford; infielders Manny Alexander, Gomez, Doug Jennings and David Segui; outfielders Chito Martinez, Luis Mercedes and Jack Voigt; and catcher Chris Hoiles.
The "zero-to-three-year" players -- those who are not eligible for salary arbitration -- have no real bargaining leverage and can be renewed by the team at any salary figure as long as their pay is not cut more than 20 percent.