SARASOTA, Fla. -- Jair Jurrjens walked into the Orioles' clubhouse on Saturday morning with his locker and uniform No. 48 already waiting for him. After an initial one-year deal with Baltimore on Jan. 25 was held up due to medical reasons, the two sides reached agreement on a one-year Minor League deal on Friday.
"It was a big league deal and they adjusted it because of the concern and made it a Minor League deal," said Jurrjens. "If I'm out there and can stay on the mound, I know what I can do. A lot of people know what I can do. I'm just going to come here and show everybody that I'm healthy and I can pitch again."
The concern was over Jurrjens' right knee, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said the new deal has some concessions for the player, including an opt-out clause.
"We were trying to learn more about his knee and what it would take for him to pitch effectively," Duquette said of three-week lag between the first agreement and the actual deal. "That was a lot of the discussion -- and a lot of it was an educational process for the club. We referred it to a couple of doctors. We were also trying to learn the most effective way to help him regain his stature from earlier in his career. That took a little time."
Duquette said he never doubted that a deal would get done with Jurrjens, and the Orioles were intrigued by the free agent -- who was non-tendered by the Braves this winter -- given his age and prior track record when healthy.
"The kid's a winning pitcher, and we're going to see if we can get him back to the form that helped him win over 50 games," Duquette said. "We'll see if we can help him regain the form that made him a good pitcher. He's a sinkerballer, plus he has a good changeup. He's young, he's 27, so there's a chance he could learn how to pitch effectively and manage the situation with his right knee."
Jurrjens went 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA last year before Atlanta cut ties with him, and he joins an Orioles camp with a wealth of starting pitching depth. The Orioles have Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman who figure to have spots secured -- with Steve Johnson, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Tommy Hunter and Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland all options to round out the rotation. Top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will also get a good look, but they aren't expected to be part of the Opening Day club.
"It's a young club -- [and there are] a lot of guys on this team that are hungry to get to the playoffs again and win a ring," said Jurrjens on why he chose the Orioles. "Everybody plays this game to win a ring and go to the playoffs and play in October. Everybody wants to be the only teams playing in October. Seeing this team get to the playoffs last year, especially after a good run, it's like, 'Why not be around young guys who are hungry? I'm young and I'm hungry, too.' [I'm] just trying to prove something again."