SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) Darren O'Day didn't know if he would be back with the Baltimore Orioles when the 2015 season ended. With that issue settled – he and the Orioles agreed on a four-year $31 million contract – O'Day used his press conference in mid-December to campaign for the return of Chris Davis.
O'Day wore a mustache in an effort to lure Davis to return. It worked, well, Davis ended up re-signing anyway.
“Ultimately, I don't think it was the mustache.” O'Day quipped on Monday. “There are a lot of good reasons to come back here. You'll have to ask Chris what his ultimate decider was.”
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In his four years with Baltimore, O'Day has put up impressive numbers. He's 23-8 with a 1.92 ERA, and his contract, a record one for a Baltimore reliever, made manager Buck Showalter happy.
“When you talk about people like that, it goes so far beyond his statistics and the contributions Darren makes,” Showalter knew. “He's got such a pure heart. He loves being a part of our team, and let's face it, we're down here to build a team, and Darren's a part of that. He helps us build it by ways other than pitching, and that's been pretty good.”
O'Day was part of a terrific free agent haul for the Orioles.
Matt Wieters returned after he accepted a $15.8 million qualifying offer, and Davis came back with the seven-year, $161 million deal.
Right-handed pitcher Yovani Gallardo arrived on Monday for his physical. If he passes that, he'll have a three-year, $35 million contract.
“There are a few different ways to improve as an organization, as a team, to commit to winning. Whether it be through the draft or through trades or through signing free agents,” O'Day said. “So I think they showed a commitment to winning, really, to putting a good team on the field by signing some of these guys who were pretty expensive.”
O'Day wasn't sure that Baltimore would spend as heavily as they did on free agents.
“Frankly, no. I'd be surprised. There's quality players and quality men. There's a lot to like about this team and the players they've assembled, so it is surprising a little bit, but obviously it's a really nice pleasant surprise,” O'Day said. “Personally, I couldn't be happier to be back, and I hope I speak for the other guys.”
O'Day has been a key member of a team that's reached the postseason twice in four years. In recent weeks, there have been many predictions the Orioles won't be a factor in the American League East.
The reliever will use the skepticism to his advantage.
“As a logical person, I understand that. I think it's going to be the most competitive league in baseball, and to play these other heavyweight teams, what is it 19 times? It's tough. Somebody's got to finish fourth or fifth. I don't think it's going to be us,' O'Day said.
NOTE: Showalter hopes that Gallardo can practice with the team on Tuesday. His physical was scheduled for Monday afternoon.