Winn offers intriguing option in crowded outfield

Simon will ask to be released at hearing Thursday; Lee could start hitting live pitching Friday

February 23, 2011|By Peter Schmuck and Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — — There doesn't appear to be much room on the Orioles outfield depth chart, but manager Buck Showalter said on Wednesday that veteran Randy Winn is not just in camp to fill a locker.

"That's a pretty nice addition for us … potentially,'' Showalter said. "He's a switch hitter who can play three positions, a veteran who has been around some winning situations. I wouldn't be surprised if he got a knock on the door if he doesn't make our roster."

Winn is a career .284 hitter who has played for five clubs over his 13 major league seasons. He split time with the Yankees and Cardinals last year, but struggled and had the lowest average (.236) of his career in his first year as a part-time player. He has been, however, a solid all-around player with great instincts on the bases. Over the last three seasons, he has been caught stealing just four times in 51 attempts.

Clearly, he knows that it's going to be tough to make the club with Luke Scott apparently first in line to start in left field and Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold also competing for playing time, but a lot can happen over six weeks of training camp.

"I'm just looking for an opportunity to play,'' Wynn said. "That's it. I love the game and love to play, so I'll compete and see what happens. I think they had an exciting offseason with the moves that were made, so it's definitely an exciting team to come to."

Simon hearing Thursday

A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday in the Dominican Republic for Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon, who has been in custody since Jan. 3 on suspicion of fatally shooting his cousin. Simon's lawyers are expected to ask a judge to release the pitcher on bail. He has not been charged with a crime and is being held under so-called preventative detention. Dominican law stipulates that a suspect can be detained for up to a year without being charged.

Patton court date moved

Pitcher Troy Patton was scheduled to make a court appearance Friday to answer a DWI charge, but the hearing has been rescheduled again and will now take place March 30 in Houston. That will likely allow Patton to not miss any time during spring training or during the 2011 season.

The Orioles' season opener is April 1, while Triple-A Norfolk will begin April 7. The 25-year-old left-hander is a long shot to make the Orioles' Opening Day roster.

Patton was charged with DWI on Jan. 23 after being stopped for driving erratically. He made a preliminary appearance at the Harris County Criminal Court on Jan.28, according to Harris County Assistant District Attorney Donna Hawkins.

Patton, who has not had a previous drunken driving arrest according to Houston police, could potentially offer his plea March 30 if the hearing is not reset again. Hawkins said it is not unusual for court dates to be reset more than once.

Patton could request admittance into an accelerated rehabilitation program for first-time offenders — which would involve a strict year of probation.

Lee progressing

First baseman Derrek Lee could start hitting live pitching on Friday or Saturday as he continues to rehab his surgically-repaired right thumb.

Lee apparently is ahead of schedule, but Showalter said the club will continue to play it safe with him and keep him from pushing too hard to get back into action. Showalter would not put a firm timetable on his first exhibition appearance, but said it would definitely not be in the first three games.

"I've got a pretty good idea in my mind of how much time he would need to be ready (for Opening Day),'' Showalter said.

Around the horn

Showalter indicated on Wednesday that Sunday's intra-squad game likely will be moved back to the main stadium field so that the players and staff can replicate a 1:05 exhibition start … The news that veteran Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla will undergo elbow surgery left the O's feeling they dodged a bullet since they were in the hunt to sign him as a free agent this winter. ... Zach Britton and Rick VandenHurk were not originally announced as being in the early spring starting rotation, but both will get multiple-inning appearances during the first five games of the Grapefruit League season. VandenHurk will pitch behind Jeremy Guthrie in the home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium on Tuesday and Britton will follow Justin Duchscherer in Wednesday's game against the Phillies at Clearwater.

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