While we wait to see whether Gregg Zaun will become an Oriole for the second time, veteran utility man Chris Gomez has returned to the nest. The 37-year-old infielder signed a minor-league deal with the team, but seems like a shoo-in for the Opening Day roster. Sadly, the complete crap shoot that is the Baltimore pitching staff makes manager Dave Trembley likely to start the season with a thirteen-man pitching staff. Every year, it seems like the O's are coming closer to employing an eleven-man bullpen and completely eliminating the bench. Anyway, with a three-man bench being a real possibility, Gomez would cover all three bases and shortstop, with Ryan Freel serving as an extra outfielder (and second baseman in a pinch), and some defensive-minded mystery catcher completing the trio. Of course, Chris might also be insurance in the event that Brian Roberts is traded, but speculation about something that's been rumored for over a year now just seems futile. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
I always liked Chris Gomez. His nickname among teammates was "Fresh Hands", because he played so sparingly. But it seemed like whenever you did call on him, he'd come up with a hit. He hit .302 as an Oriole from 2005-2007, and though his defensive range isn't what it once was, he rarely makes an error. I've gone on at length about the horrors of the Baltimore utility infielders of 2008, so Chris is definitely an upgrade. Also, if you're keeping track, this is the eighth time he's changed teams (Tigers, Padres, Devil Rays, Twins, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, Pirates, Orioles again). Actually, the Phillies claimed him from the O's in the Rule 5 draft five days after we signed him in December 2004, but we reacquired him in a trade a week after that. Not one of the brighter moments in front office history.
So the roster continues to take shape...even if it is the outer fringes of the roster.