SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles first targeted outfielder Colby Rasmus as a potential free-agent signing more than three years ago. Manager Buck Showalter even visited Rasmus' home in Alabama to gauge his interest in joining the Orioles.
That visit has finally paid off.
Rasmus signed a minor league contract with the Orioles Feb. 21, and the left-handed hitting outfielder remembers Showalter's visit.
"It was definitely a good impression," Rasmus said. "I thought we vibed together pretty well in the way he thinks and the way he operates -- kind of an old school mentality. I grew up in a household that was kind of that way. My dad was pretty rough, so that doesn't bother me. It kind of helps me. So the meeting we had was good. It didn't work out, but now here I am and hopefully it will be a good time."
Rasmus, 31, has been in the major leagues since 2009. But mid-way through his 2017 season with the Tampa Bay Rays, Rasmus decided to step away from baseball.
"Baseball has been in my life since I was little," Rasmus said. "… As a big league ballplayer, professional baseball player, baseball is life. You don't really have much off time. As soon as the season is over with, you're getting back in the weight room and working out.
"And I worked out from the time I started working out at 8 or 9 years old to play in the big leagues, and I just kind of hit a point to where I was like, 'Man, I need to take a little break and enjoy some time with my family.' My 8-year-old girl was in school, [we] just had a boy who was 10 weeks old, so being able to spend time with them and keeping my wife feeling good through her pregnancy was important to me."
Prior to stepping away from the game, Rasmus hit at least 20 home runs in four different seasons. He had also shown an ability to play each of the three outfield positions. But because he hadn't played since June 18, 2017, Rasmus wasn't heavily sought after.
But then he got the itch to return.
"I'd say it was just in the workouts and how I was feeling, getting those juices flowing," Rasmus said. "I wanted to make sure that I was going to come back and be able to finish out the season and be able to play some good baseball. I wanted to go out on a good note.
"Thankfully, here, I think this will be a good fit for me. I think it will be a lot of fun, and I have a lot of respect for the guys here. [Tim Beckham's] over here; I played with Beck a little bit and I think it will be a good time."
Showalter was impressed with Rasmus' physical condition, pointing out that he had back issues in the past. Showalter also mentioned Rasmus has the third-most major league service time on the team, behind only center fielder Adam Jones and reliever Darren O'Day.
"This guy kind of knows the ropes," Showalter said. "He knows what's right and what's not, and I'll trust him."
Rasmus thinks he'll easily fit with the Orioles.
"I've talked to Buck a few times," Rasmus said. "I like his mentality, the way he goes about the game and manages the game. I think it will be a good fit for me -- kind of old school -- because I just like to play the game hard, grit my teeth and go out there and go after it. That's the feeling I have."