Deal official, O'Day thanks Showalter, Duquette
Reliable veteran reliever elated to be part of O's plans for next two years
SARASOTA, Fla. -- With news of his two-year contract agreement official Monday morning, Orioles reliever Darren O'Day made it a point to find executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter and thank them personally.
"He gets it," Showalter said of O'Day, whose new deal also includes a club option for 2015. "Somebody somewhere else may think: 'You're having a get-together [news conference], for a two-year contract for a non-closer reliever. Really?' I'd like to think that's who we are."
O'Day, plucked off the waiver wire in November 2011 -- before the Orioles hired Duquette -- with Showalter and former director of baseball operations Matt Klentak maneuvering the roster is symbolic of an O's club that favors results over flash.
The 30-year-old went 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA last season, setting career highs in wins, innings and strikeouts, as O'Day proved to be an invaluable piece of Baltimore's standout bullpen.
"I got picked off the scrap heap by a pretty good GM," O'Day said coyly, as he sat next to Showalter. "I don't know if you guys know him; he might be around here somewhere. But they gave me an opportunity and they kept running me out there last year, and I hope I did what they expected. And now maybe this is them saying they believe in me and they want to keep me around and be part of what's going on here. It's really a good time to be a Baltimore Oriole, to bring a winning team, some winning baseball, back to Baltimore."
O'Day stranded 37 of 43 inherited runners (86 percent), the third-best mark in the American League, and went 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA in 36 games against American League East opponents. He held division rivals to a.135/.207/.270 line and was the team's most consistent reliever.
"He was terrific," Duquette said of O'Day, who tossed two scoreless innings in the AL Wild Card game at Texas and made four scoreless appearances in the AL Division Series. "That kind of player, who is very dependable, has a lot of value to the Orioles. That's why we decided to enter a multiyear agreement with him. Beyond that, if you take a look at the body of his work, he's in the top 10 relief pitchers over the last four years in ERA and WHIP, which is another sign of his dependability. So, we're happy to enter into a long-term agreement with him. The leadership he shows with the team I think adds a lot to the bullpen and the stability of our bullpen."
A gregarious personality, O'Day had a heavy hand in team pranks last year and has already taken to nicknaming pitching prospect Kevin Gausman, "Dunkin" this spring. Last spring, O'Day was one of the team's final roster decisions, coming off a poor 2011 season with Texas in which he rushed back from April labrum surgery on his left hip.
"I knew that I could pitch if I was healthy and that was really the big test," O'Day said. "And these guys took a leap of faith with me and trusted that -- if I was healthy -- that I was going to be the guy that I had been."
"If they were all as easy as claiming Darren, it would be an easy job," Showalter said.
"He's a guy who's very easy to trust. You put your head on the pillow regardless of what the results are. It's not a purely statistical evaluation, though Darren wouldn't take a back seat to many guys in the role he used. And he did more than one thing for us. ... But he's a guy who cares about doing it right and he's a guy who makes his teammates better and makes the other team not as good. That's a good combination."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.