SARASOTA, Fla. -- When the Orioles claimed Russ Canzler off waivers last week, the 26-year-old first baseman-outfielder had been planning to spend spring training in Tampa with the Yankees. He had already booked his housing, his transportation, everything.
But Canzler has become used to being flexible during a zany offseason that included him being placed on waivers four times. He’s been claimed each time. Since mid-December, Canzler was on the 40-man rosters of the Indians, Blue Jays, Indians again, Yankees and then the Orioles.
“I just kind of sat in my living room and answered the phone every couple weeks to see which team I was going to be on,” Canzler said with a smile. “You can get worked up about it. You can get upset but I have a lot of faith I’d land somewhere. And all you can ask for it an opportunity with a team and I think I have a good one here.”
The Orioles think very highly of Canzler. They were interested in him as a minor league free-agent last offseason before he signed with the Indians and they filed waiver claims for him previously this offseason but weren’t high enough on the waiver order to get him.
“It was crazy,” Canzler said. “If someone would have sat me down at the end of last season and told me that I was going through waivers four or five times, I would have said, ‘Wow, that’s not what I would have anticipated.’ It’s one of those things were it’s the business side of the game and you can’t control that stuff.”
Canzler can play a variety of positions – first base, third base, left field and right field – and has averaged 20 homers and 81 RBIs the past two seasons in Triple-A. In 102 major league at-bats with the Rays and Indians, Canzler owns a .271/.304/.396 line with three homers and 12 RBIs.
And if he doesn’t make the big league club, he adds valuable organizational depth. He had a minor league option remaining.
Playing for the Indians’ Triple-A team in Columbus, Canzler saw first hand how the Orioles organization offered opportunity to make it to the big leagues.
“We joked about it in Columbus,” Canzler said. “Every time we played Norfolk it was like a completely different team. New pitching, new position players. The word I’ve heard about Buck is that if you’re taking care of business and you’re playing, it doesn’t matter, you’re going to get your shots.”