Orioles re-sign reliever Koji Uehara to one-year deal

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Two weeks ago Baltimore declined to offer arbitration to Koji Uehara because it would have meant committing to a raise on his $5 million salary, but the Orioles have now re-signed the 35-year-old reliever to a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2012.

According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun the new deal includes $3 million in guarantee money and another $2 million or so in possible incentives.

Uehara reportedly drew interest from a half-dozen teams as a free agent, so by not offering arbitration the Orioles risked losing him without receiving a compensatory draft pick in return, but the move ultimately worked out well as they lowered the upfront money and also potentially secured his rights for 2012.

Uehara struggled to stay healthy as a starter, but transitioned to the bullpen full time this year and thrived with a 2.86 ERA, .220 opponents’ batting average, and 55-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 innings. He converted 13 saves in 15 chances and will likely enter 2011 as the favorite to claim closer duties.

The Angels were the first team to use up all of their mound visits

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Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.

Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.

At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.