BALTIMORE — Three years ago, Henry Urrutia was a flavor of the month for the Orioles. He arrived in the United States in Feb. 2013, seven months after the Orioles agreed to sign him.
Urrutia was a Cuban defector, who stayed in Haiti until he could get clearance to enter the U.S. When he came, he didn’t speak any English, and manager Buck Showalter was intrigued by him.
He was long and lean and certainly looked like a ballplayer. Less than five months after his arrival, Urrutia made his major league debut.
It didn’t go badly, but he showed no power and batted .276 with no walks in 24 games. Urrutia played just three innings in left field, and was returned to the minor leagues.
2014 was a lost season for him, and he missed significant time with a sports hernia, but last season, Urrutia made it back to the major leagues, and two years after his arrival in this country, he was fluent in English and happily living in Sarasota, Fla.
Urrutia batted .265 in 10 games and had a game-ending home run. He even drew his first walks.
The Orioles sent him back to the minors to make room for fellow Cuban Dariel Alvarez late last August, and he hasn’t been in the majors since.
Urrutia was sent down to Bowie because of a glut of outfielders at Norfolk, and despite batting .298 with the Baysox, was designated for assignment last week. The Orioles chose veteran outfielder Julio Borbon to temporarily fill in while Hyun Soo Kim was on the disabled list instead of Urrutia.
Borbon can play center field, which came in handy when Adam Jones missed a game due to back spasms.
Urrutia has cleared waivers, it was announced on Thursday, and will head back to Bowie.
It seems unlikely that Urrutia will return to the Orioles since Borbon can serve as a pinchrunner, too.
Borbon, meanwhile, was also designated for assignment, and the Orioles hope that he stays with the organization.