SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Vladimir Guerrero arrived at the Baltimore Orioles’ spring training facility before 9 a.m. on Wednesday, changed out of his street clothes and met up with a team doctor to take his physical.
In keeping with the slugger’s usual demeanor, he made a quiet entrance. The thunderous sounds typically come from his bat.
Guerrero, 36, agreed to terms on a one-year, $8 million contract on Feb. 4, but scheduling conflicts kept delaying his examination. The tentative plan calls for the Orioles to announce his signing and introduce him to the media on Friday.
“That’s huge,” reliever Michael Gonzalez said. “He’s always been a presence when he gets up there. And it doesn’t matter what age he is, he still swings that bat. And it’s one of those things where you don’t throw the pitch around his head and you don’t throw it at his ankles, because you don’t know what he’s going to do with it.
“It’s a definite upgrade to the lineup. It’s going to be good. It’s going to be a good year.”
Guerrero is a career .320 hitter with 436 home runs over 15 major league seasons, but the market dried up for him this winter.
The Orioles weren’t initially looking to sign a designated hitter, but he practically fell into their laps.
“He’s a professional hitter,” said reliever Clay Rapada, Guerrero’s teammate last year in Texas. “He’s been in the thick of a lot of great lineups and I think he’s going to help this organization a lot. He’s not really vocal. I consider him like a quiet storm. You see it, but you just don’t hear it.”
That was evident Wednesday, when Guerrero opted against talking to the media.
Guerrero is remembered in Baltimore for lining a single at Camden Yards on a Chris Tillman pitch that bounced in front of the plate.
“Now I don’t have to worry about calling a pitch that bounces and somebody hits it. That’s always good,” catcher Matt Wieters said.
Guerrero will bat fourth as the designated hitter in the Orioles revamped lineup, which also includes third baseman Mark Reynolds, first baseman Derrek Lee and shortstop J.J. Hardy. Luke Scott is expected to play left field after serving as the primary DH last season.
“His track record, you can pencil him into the cleanup spot. I think that throws away a lot of question marks and makes things easier,” center fielder Adam Jones said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)