Orioles make large roster cut

Notebook

Bell, Sarfate, Snyder among most notable cuts as O's pare roster down to 37 players

March 26, 2010|By Dan Connolly | dan.connolly@baltsun.com

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Orioles sent nine more players to minor league camp Friday, including two of their top hitting prospects and one of last season's relievers.

Third baseman Josh Bell and first baseman Brandon Snyder were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk along with first basemen Michael Aubrey and Rhyne Hughes. Infielder Pedro Florimon was optioned to Double-A Bowie while relievers Dennis Sarfate, Frank Mata and Josh Perrault and outfielder Jonathan Tucker were reassigned to minor league camp.

Sarfate, who was taken off the 40-man roster this winter but was a dark-horse candidate for the bullpen, said he endorsed the move because he wants to continue to build his arm strength. The 28-year-old right-hander, who pitched in just 20 games for the Orioles in 2009 because of injuries, threw six innings this spring, allowing six hits, two walks and three runs while striking out four.

"I think it is a good move," Sarfate said of the demotion. "If I was on the outside looking in, I'd rather go down and get my innings in and get on a long-toss program and build some more strength up."

Bell and Snyder both saw their demotions coming, and consequently both took it in stride.

"It was a great experience," said Bell, who batted .226 in 31 spring at-bats. "They are all good guys. I wish them the best, and hopefully I'll be with them soon."

Bell, 23, had just two extra-base hits, both homers in the first game of the spring. He was ranked second behind only Brian Matusz in Baseball America's list of Orioles prospects. Snyder, who was ranked sixth by Baseball America, said he felt more relaxed in big league camp this year as opposed to 2009. He had six hits in 18 at-bats this month.

"Obviously it is disappointing. It's never fun to have to go back to the minors," Snyder said. "But it was a great time being here. I made a lot of improvements. I think I kind of showed up in a lot of guys' eyes. And that's all you can do, try to make a good impression, and down the road if they need somebody to come up and do the job, hopefully I am on the tip of their tongues."

Trembley said both players impressed him.

"Snyder was the most improved guy in camp from one year to the next. ... I think Snyder is close to being ready to play at the major league level," Trembley said. "Bell has a tool you can't teach, power from both sides of the plate. He needs some experience at Triple-A."

Stockstill swap official

The Orioles officially announced their front office shuffling Friday with farm director David Stockstill becoming the club's director of international operations while former international scouting director John Stockstill will take over as the director of player development.

President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said there had been a lot of crossover with the two jobs -- as player development director, David Stockstill had been overseeing the Dominican Republic operation and South America -- and so he said it was a natural switch.

"The more I watched how things evolved, the more I realized it has been a job share for the two over the course of the last year," MacPhail said. "The more we talked about it, the more this made sense for both of them."

MacPhail said the switch was not performance-based, something that had been speculated because the minor league system had been fairly dormant for a chunk of David Stockstill's tenure.

"I have no problem with the minor league operation. We have received a growing multitude of players from the minor leagues and determined, on and off the field, they were ready for the challenge," MacPhail said. "In no way, shape or form is this a reflection of any kind of unhappiness with either department."

The change in duties, which will take effect Opening Day, will be the last major front office move this season. MacPhail said he does not plan to hire anyone to replace former assistant Wayne Krivsky.

Around the horn

Koji Uehara, who has been shelved with a left hamstring strain, cut short a jogging session Friday, saying it was more because of allergies than any leg pain. He said he didn't know when he'll be ready to pitch from a mound again. ... Kevin Millwood, the club's projected Opening Day starter, will pitch in the minor league game Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays' prospects. The club does not want him to face an American League East rival, the Boston Red Sox, in the regular game.

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