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Fifteen years later, an Oriole remembers his 9/11 loss

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USA TODAY Sports

Fifteen years later, an Oriole remembers his 9/11 loss

Everyone knows where they were 15 years ago today. Everyone remembers the unspeakable tragedy of 9/11. 

It was much more personal for Keith Bodie. The 60-year-old Bodie just completed his second year in the Orioles organization, and his first year as the manager of the Frederick Keys. 

The Keys ended their season on Monday, and Bodie is back in his offseason home in Gilbert, Ariz., a long way from his native Brooklyn. 

Bodie has seen a lot of tragedy in his lifetime. His father died when he was young and his mother is gone, too. So are a brother and sister, and tragically, so is his cousin, Nicholas Chiofalo.

For years, Bodie had tried to make the major leagues as a player, coach and manager, but it wasn’t until Sept. 9, 2001 that he joined the Kansas City Royals. 

Bodie had finished a successful season as the manager of the Royals’ Double-A team in Wichita, and his reward was a promotion to the big leagues. 

On Sept. 11, Bodie began his day watching news reports of the World Trade Center attacks, and like all native New Yorkers, was shocked by what he saw. 

He called his mother in Brooklyn and told her to watch television. He never dreamed that he’d lose a family member. 

“I never put two and two together,” Bodie said. 

That night, all major league games were postponed, and as the country mourned, the sport like nearly everything else in the country, was put on hiatus. 

The nex day, the Royals were taking batting practice, and Bodie was out on the Kauffman Stadium field. 

“I saw a security guy walking down the stairs. I had this eerie feeling he was coming for me,” Bodie said. 

Bodie was escorted into manager Tony Muser’s office where his wife called him. 

“Nicholas is missing,” his wife told him. “If anybody was missing that day, it wasn’t very good.”

Nicholas Chiofalo, was 40, five years younger than Bodie, and  a firefighter in Brooklyn who made a choice that ended his life, but made him a hero.

Chiofalo agreed to work an extra shift for a colleague and called his wife to tell her not to expect him home that night. 

His engine company was called from Brooklyn to lower Manhattan to help. 

“Everybody on that engine was killed,” Bodie said. 

Bodie’s memories of Nicholas are vivid.

“He had a tremendous sense of humor, a helpful person, thoughtful. He was kind to his neighbors, his fellow man, very generous,” Bodie remembers. 

As Bodie learned the news, the Royals assembled in the clubhouse to comfort him. Their biggest star, Mike Sweeney gave Bodie the $20,000 the team collected from their “Kangaroo Court,” the petty fines players assess each other for breaking silly rules. 

The Royals’ owner matched the $20,000 and Bodie presented the money to his cousin’s son, Nicholas Jr., who was 12 at the time. 

Nine months later, Kansas City played at Shea Stadium, and Nicholas Jr. went to the game and met the Royals in their clubhouse. 

Sweeney promised to hit a home run for Nicholas, and did in his first at-bat. 

That was the last time Bodie saw his cousin’s son. 

When Bodie was young, his family would trek to Bay Shore on Long Island to visit Nicholas’ family and other family members who lived there, too. 

Unfortunately, after the tragedy, Nicholas’ family became estranged from the rest of the family. 

“That’s the saddest part of this whole thing, how it turned my family upside down,” he said. 

This summer, during the Carolina League All-Star break, Bodie brought his family, his wife and three children, to Brooklyn to show them where he grew up. 

They visited Coney Island where the Brooklyn Cyclones erected a memorial for fallen police officers and firefighters. 

Then the Bodies went to Manhattan to visit the World Trade Center site and museum. They saw Nicholas’ name engraved in the memorial and his picture in the museum. 

Bodie recalled Nicholas’ funeral on Long Island. 

“It was incredible,” he said. “There were fire trucks all over that were parked over both sides of the road. There were American flags everywhere.”

A mile from the church, Bodie saw firefighters from the entire Northeast there to honor his cousin.

September 11 will never be just another day for Bodie. 

“It’s kind of an ill feeling in your stomach,” Bodie said. “It brings back all those old memories, all those old feelings.”

It’s therapeutic to the man who has been in baseball for over 40 years to talk about his family losses. 

He wants to remember the goodness of his cousin and the others who perished 15 years ago today.

“They’re heroes. There’s no doubt about it. When people run in harm’s way to save people, they’re heroes."

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Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million contract on Thursday after searching for starting pitching all offseason.

The 31-year-old Cashner is 42-64 with a 3.80 ERA in eight major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego, Miami and Texas, including 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rangers last year. The deal with the Orioles has an option for 2020.

He'll join right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation.

"I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is, show up every day and whoever I can help out, help out and my job is to come here and pitch and win," Cashner said.

Cashner's deal could be worth $41 million over three seasons if he pitches 200 innings annually. He gets a $3 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments each Jan. 15 from 2020 through 2021.

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Cashner has salaries of $5 million this season and $8 million in 2019, and there is a $10 million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he pitches 340 innings combined in the next two seasons. If he reaches 360 innings, it would become a player option.

He can make $5 million in performance bonuses each year.

There are $1,525,000 per season in bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 10 and 15, $625,000 for 20 and $400,000 for 30.

Cashner also can make $3,475,000 each year based on innings: $250,000 each for 110 and 120, $275,000 for 130, $350,000 for 140, $750,000 for 150 and $400,000 apiece for 170, 180, 190 and 200.

Cashner was at the Orioles' spring training facility, and was due to head to his Texas home for a few days before returning on Sunday when Baltimore's full squad is required to report. He'll likely work out with the team for the first time Monday.

He has little experience against the Orioles, but said he was excited to join the team.

"It's a lineup you can't really make a lot of mistakes against," Cashner said. "It's a lot of power in there, and I got to pitch (for) San Diego one year in Baltimore. Really cool stadium, really neat, a lot of history. It's one of my favorite places to pitch, so I'm looking forward to making that my home (stadium) every night."

RELATED: ORIOLES TO SHUFFLE UP INFIELD AHEAD OF MACHADO'S FINAL SEASON

Manager Buck Showalter said Cashner would be an ideal addition to the club.

"He's a veteran starter. That's a good deal for both us and him," Showalter said. "He's a guy who's pitched well in the American League. That's something that I think played in his favor."

Cashner said that he began negotiations with Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson last fall and in a challenging offseason for free agents, he said patience was vital.

"I don't think it's been difficult. It's been interesting. It's been different," Cashner said.

To make room for Cashner on the 40-man roster, Baltimore placed left-hander Zach Britton (Achilles) on the 60-day disabled list.

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Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

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USA Today Sports

Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Even if Manny Machado doesn't switch teams this season, he almost certainly will be changing his position in the infield.

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that Machado will move from third base to shortstop this spring, and shortstop Tim Beckham will be shifted to third.

The shuffle will become permanent unless something goes wrong -- or Machado gets traded to another club.

"There could be some adjustments if we don't like the feel of it, but that's where we're going to head into it," Showalter said at FanFest, an annual offseason event designed to promote interest in the club.

Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop did not attend.

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Machado becomes a free agent after this year and is sure to demand a huge contract. The Orioles have entertained trade offers for the 25-year-old, who's been an All-Star in three of his six seasons with Baltimore.

Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, has to decide whether to deal Machado sometime between now and September or seek to sign him to a long-term deal.

"That's a big decision for the organization, obviously," Duquette said. "But we're planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub."

Machado played in 156 games last season, offsetting a career-low .259 batting average with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs. He has averaged 35 home runs and 92 RBIs over the past three years.

Machado avoided arbitration this month by agreeing to a $16 million contract for 2018. He received $11.5 million last season.

Drafted as a shortstop as the third overall pick in 2010, Machado played third base with Baltimore next to slick-fielding J.J. Hardy, whose contract expired after last season.

So when they return to the field next month in Florida, the Orioles will have Machado at shortstop with Beckham on his left. Beckham came to Baltimore from Tampa Bay in July and played shortstop for the injured Hardy over the final two months.

"I think Tim would rather play shortstop, as Manny would," Showalter said. "Tim's big thing is getting an opportunity to play every day at one position. We need to settle both those guys into a spot and let them get into it."

Showalter said Machado was enthusiastic about the switch.

"All indications are, he's really excited about this," Showalter said. "I can't imagine him being in a better frame of mind or setup to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the past few years he's been very professional about it. But it's not like he's changing positions. He's going back to the position he's equipped to play."

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Deciding what to do with Machado is only one problem Duquette has faced this offseason. He's also been trying to fill out a starting rotation that currently consists of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and perhaps Miguel Castro, who made his first major league start on Sept. 30 after pitching in relief for 75 games over three seasons.

"Obviously we have work to do to address some of the deficiencies on our ballclub," Duquette said. "We're going to continue to build our pitching staff, most notably the starting pitching."

If Castro joins the rotation, the Orioles will be further pressed to fill out the back end of the bullpen. Closer Zach Britton tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout and will likely miss the entire 2018 season, leaving setup man Brad Brach the odds-on favorite to take over as the stopper.

"I'm hoping I get a shot to close. I'd be lying if I say I didn't," said Brach, who served significant time as a closer in 2017 while Britton was sidelined with elbow and knee issues.

Brach had 18 saves but blew six chances.

"I think I did all right," Brach said. "Hopefully, I get another chance to do it."