04/02/09 4:38 PM ET
New Oriole Andino ready for anything
Infielder's defensive skills and versatility should be an asset
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
"I've been in Maryland, but I've never been to Baltimore," Andino said. "I heard it's a real nice city."
He'll have plenty of time to decide for himself. Andino, the utility infielder the Orioles acquired Wednesday in exchange for starter Hayden Penn, won't see Camden Yards until next week, but he did join his new teammates for Thursday's game against the Mets.
Some of the Orioles, such as Adam Jones, his teammate on Triple-A All-Star teams in 2006 and '07, he already knew. Others, Andino is getting to know. What's important is that unlike much of his recent time with the Marlins, Andino knows his role and knows that his spot is secure.
"I'm an Oriole now," he said.
Part of Andino was even expecting this trade, given the fact that he was out of options and that the Marlins didn't want to expose him to waivers. But few players can anticipate the timing and nature of a trade, and Andino was no exception.
He was taking batting practice with his Marlins teammates in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Wednesday, in fact, when the team informed him of the deal. So he put down his bat, walked over to the Orioles' clubhouse and introduced himself to manager Dave Trembley.
"I figured something was going to go down, but I didn't know," Andino said. "You could say I was a little surprised, because it happened pretty quickly."
Trembley already knew, of course. And Trembley was pleased.
"What he gives us is another guy that is versatile and can play in the middle of the diamond," he said. "He has tools, he has experience at the Major League level and he has flexibility, and that's what we're looking for. He's a guy that has an upside -- a guy that we feel with more playing time, he'll get better. We're glad to have him. We think it's a win-win situation for us."
As recently as this week, Trembley had discussed the possibility of breaking camp with 13 pitchers and just three bench players, a move that would have forced him to use utility man Ryan Freel as a reserve shortstop. But Andino will now become the primary backup to Cesar Izturis, giving Trembley chances to rest a player who hasn't played more than 135 games in a season since 2004.
The move should also give Trembley a measure of flexibility late in games. Known primarily for his defense, Andino, a natural shortstop, can sub in a pinch, or start in place of Izturis and second baseman Brian Roberts when needed.
"I guess that's my biggest asset," Andino said of his defense. "I take pride in everything, but that especially."
"Our emphasis for this year and going forward in the future is pitching and defense," Trembley said. "We've got very good starting pitching that's going to be here from the Minor Leagues, and our focus is on pitching and defense and strength up the middle. And Andino adds to that."
Once he learns his way around Baltimore and around the ballpark and settles into his new home, Andino may become even more of an asset. Time will tell. But if Thursday's game was any indication, he's already somewhat settled. Andino rapped out two singles in his first three at-bats against the Mets, scoring once and helping spark an eight-run outburst against Mike Pelfrey.
Granted, there will be new challenges ahead for Andino. But it's always nice to conquer the first one.
"It's going to be a new family, a new world, everything," Andino said. "I'm ready for it."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.