Showalter weighs in on O's direction

Showalter weighs in on O's direction

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter held court with the media on Tuesday afternoon, touching base on a wide variety of topics concerning the organization's offseason and where it hopes to be this spring.

Showalter echoed president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail's confidence that the O's will shore up their bullpen soon, adding that the organization will place an emphasis on veteran relievers.

"We are trying to attack the bullpen," Showalter said. "Get more of a proven area, some guys with good track records and [we] feel like we are fairly close on some of those things. I think hopefully we can get Jimmy Johnson for a full year. If he comes back for a full year and he's healthy for the full year, he adds a couple of track record guys down there."

The O's have several offers out and have been linked to Kevin Gregg, Jesse Crain, Grant Balfour, Scott Downs and Brian Fuentes, among others. They also feel good about their chances to retain Japanese right-hander Koji Uehara. MacPhail said Tuesday night that he felt better about Uehara's situation than he had just that morning, and the teams could be close to reaching an agreement.

"We would like to get him back, if we could get something both parties are comfortable with," Showalter said of Uehara, who was highly effective but is injury-prone. "I'm comfortable with the rate and process that they are moving through."

Showalter also touched on a variety of issues involving the Orioles' present roster, and said that there are no indications second baseman Brian Roberts -- who missed most of the season with a back injury -- won't be ready this spring.

Still, the O's are looking for a utility player who can play second base, added insurance given the organization's lack of positional depth. Showalter said shortstop Cesar Izturis is an option if the team does not re-sign the free agent at short, and the O's are also looking within at guys like Robert Andino.

As for the departure of Ty Wigginton, a player Showalter made no secret he held in high regard, the O's manager said he was excited to see the utility infielder sign a favorable two-year deal with Colorado.

"As a baseball player, I think Ty is really staging his career, he really knows what he needs to bring and he's a winning player," Showalter said. "He's good people, and I'm excited for them. I just wish him the best because I hope every guy gets to have guys like Wiggy. I know [manager Jim Tracy] will like him."

As expected, Showalter played coy when asked about specific trades or timelines for when the Orioles might make their next move. In addition to relief help, the team still would like to add a shortstop and first baseman as well as another veteran starter to help take the pressure off Jeremy Guthrie. Showalter did confirm that the Orioles acquisition for third baseman Mark Reynolds doesn't rule out bringing on another high-strikeout hitter such as Carlos Pena, so long as that player is a "run-reducer" and plays good defense.

"It's a process," said Showalter, who is at the Winter Meetings as a manager for the first time since 2005. "It not a place where you dwell on something that doesn't work on. You have to have Plan B, C, D, whatever, move on.

'At the end of the day, all of those things will make you a little bit better but if not -- [MacPhail has] been pretty much right on about how the market and everything was going to play for the most part. It's a moving target. You know, I like the possibility of doing some things before we leave here."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.