SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles signed outfielder Craig Gentry to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league camp on Saturday morning, a move that could help boost their defense and gives them another potential backup option in center field.
"He's a guy who, for a couple years, was considered probably one of the premier fourth outfielders. Plus runner. Plus defender. Wore out left-hand pitching. Last two years [have been harder], because of some injuries, some of it concussion stuff," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Gentry, who works out with Baltimore hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh every winter.
"[Coolbaugh] had called me and said that he would not have recommended it the last year or two when he was working out," Showalter said. "He said this year we might get lucky here, because if he can revert back to that form, the guy can play all three [outfield positions] above average, [be an] above-average runner. You look at his stolen-base percentage and totals ... the last two years have been a real challenge for him."
Gentry, who joined Saturday's full-squad workout at Ed Smith Stadium, hit .147 in 14 games with the Angels last season and was released in early August. The 33-year-old said the deal with the O's came together over the past week, and he was glad it did. He's expected to compete for a bench spot in camp.
"I feel like my speed and defense can pretty much help a lot of teams. Plus, I knew a lot of guys here," said Gentry, who was in Orioles first baseman Chris Davis' wedding. "I've played with a lot of guys, I know a lot of the coaching staff, so it just seemed like a great fit. They were interested, and that late in the offseason you're kind of scrambling around. They were interested, and I thought it would be a great opportunity."
Gentry owns a career .261 average over 457 games from 2009-16, and he said that from a physical standpoint, he's finally healthy. Despite a crowded outfield, Gentry should get plenty of playing time this spring, with a pair of intrasquad games and center fielder Adam Jones headed to the World Baseball Classic.
"It's real tough [dealing with a bunch of injuries]. Coming off two years, especially when you're getting up in your 30s, you don't know what the future holds," Gentry said. "So I'm just excited to get an opportunity here. I didn't know if there was going to be one, but I'm really glad they took a chance on me."