8/2/2014 12:15 A.M. ET
O's may be interested in former closer Johnson
By David Wilson / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Buck Showalter knew he wasn't supposed to talk about Jim Johnson, and he danced around the questions about his old closer for a little while, but eventually Showalter couldn't help himself. The O's manager just likes the guy too much.
"The people who do that for a living for us said that we're still a day or two away from some contractual obligations that we need to be careful about," Showalter said. "I don't mind talking. We like Jimmy. He pitched real well for us here."
Johnson, who was designated for assignment by the Athletics on July 24 and released on Friday, pitched for the Orioles for the first eight years of his career and led the Majors in saves in 2012 and '13.
During the offseason, Baltimore dealt Johnson to Oakland for infielder Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas. Tommy Hunter became the O's closer and Johnson began the season in the same role for the A's. After allowing five runs in his first two outings -- a total of one inning -- the Athletics bumped him from the closer's role.
When Oakland finally opted to DFA him, Johnson had a 7.14 ERA and just two saves. Still, even after his team added left-handed reliever Andrew Miller at the non-waiver Trade Deadline on Thursday, Showalter didn't rule out a reunion.
"I think he's on his way to Sarasota, [Fla.]," Showalter said. "I know [Aberdeen pitching coach Scott] McGregor is real close with him, and if he becomes completely available, I'm sure that there's a lot of people that would have interest in him, including us.
"But we're not allowed to talk about him. And I just did."
Miller wants to 'seamlessly fit in' to contending team
BALTIMORE -- When Andrew Miller arrived at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday, he still sported one of those beards that the 2013 Red Sox became famous for.
Several hours later, he was clean-shaven. Word had been passed along to him that a beard like his wouldn't fly in Baltimore.
"That's fine. I just want to fit in," Miller said. "I don't want to be anything extraneous or unnecessary. I want to just seamlessly fit into this team and contribute where I can."
The O's traded pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez for Miller about an hour before the Trade Deadline on Thursday. The Orioles expect him to contribute immediately and give a boost to a bullpen that already is one of the best in the American League.
With a 2.34 ERA and 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings with Boston, Miller is in the midst of the best season of his career. Baltimore's 3.31 bullpen ERA is the fifth best in the AL.
"These guys have been really good. I know they've got some really good arms and a pretty good mix, a pretty good balance out there. Whatever's asked of me, I want to fit in. I know these guys are throwing the ball really well out there. That usually rubs off on everybody else, so I'm hoping it rubs off on me."
Miller gives the O's four lefties and three righties in the bullpen -- righty Ryan Webb was designated off the 25-man roster to make room for Miller and heads to Triple-A Norfolk -- and his major appeal is his ability to get batters out on both sides of the plate.
Lefties are batting .148 against him this season and righties aren't much better at .178. Statistically, he ranks right with Zach Britton and Darren O'Day as the best relievers in the Orioles' bullpen.
"This guy's pitchd in the American League East," the manager said. "You can tell he's excited to be here. He's heard a lot of good things about the people he's been around. He'll pitch."
During Friday's 2-1 win against the Mariners, Miller entered in the eighth to face a pair of lefties and a switch-hitter. After receiving a standing ovation, he got Dustin Ackley to ground into a forceout, walked Robinson Cano and ended the inning by inducing first baseman Kendrys Morales to ground into a fielder's choice.
"Pretty cool reception," Miller said. "I wasn't expecting anything like that. I'll remember that for sure."
What makes him most excited is the prospect of pitching in a pennant race. He was in Boston during the Red Sox World Series run last season, but his season ended in July when he broke a bone in his left foot. With a 2.64 ERA, 2013 was the best season of his career at that point.
For the O's, he hopes he can make that sort of contribution on the field as his team plays meaningful games in the fall.
"I injured my foot last year and missed out on all the fun," Miller said. "I felt like I certainly contributed to that team and I was a contributing member of winning games in the first half and unfortunately just couldn't do in the second half. Hopefully some of that rubbed off on me."
• Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez will make his second rehab start on Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. He will travel with the Orioles to Toronto for their three-game series, which begins on Tuesday.
• The O's signed starting pitcher Joe Saunders to a Minor League deal on Friday. Saunders made seven starts for Baltimore during the regular season in 2012 and got the call for the Orioles' Wild Card Game that season. The lefty will report to Norfolk on Monday and will work out of the bullpen for the first time in his career.
• McGregor, who is based in Sarasota, Fla., to work with rehabbing pitchers, will serve as Baltimore's pitching coach during this weekend's three-game series against the Mariners. Pitching coach Dave Walker is away from the team to attend his daughter's wedding. McGregor served as the O's interim bullpen coach during the 2013 season.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.