SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Buck Showalter always wants to be prepared. He wants to know that he has more than one fill-in if a top-line player gets injured.
On March 3, the Orioles signed veteran corner infielder Danny Valencia, who played with them in 2013, to provide depth.
Valencia signed a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training. He’ll receive $1.2 million if he makes the Orioles, and can earn up to $3.3 million in performance bonuses. Valencia can play first, third and the corner outfield positions.
His signing is the sixth of a veteran major leaguer since spring training began, and along with the Feb. 26 addition of Pedro Alvarez, gives the Orioles insurance.
That insurance may come in handy if first baseman Chris Davis, who went for an MRI on his sore right elbow March 3, is out for a significant amount of time.
Valencia, who hit .304 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs with the Orioles in 2013, is delighted to return to the team, one of seven he’s played for in an eight-season major league career.
"We’ve been having talks with them for about a month," Valencia said. "It's been a tough offseason for plenty of free agents this year, as we all know, but ultimately it came down to the fact that I had some similar offers but I felt coming here and knowing some of the guys, having the relationships I do with some of the people -- I have great relationships with them -- it felt like to me it was the right move.
"And I feel like there’s probably more playing time here than maybe in other situations."
The Orioles pursued the deals with Valencia and Alvarez before the decision to send Davis for an MRI.
"It’s a non-roster look for four weeks, two weeks," Showalter said before the Orioles game with Philadelphia at Clearwater on March 3.
"He’s got some history. He certainly brings some things that we look for. We have a prior history. We'll put him in the mix to see if it fits. A lot of it is coverage for an injury like with Pedro here. It may not fit mathematically now, but things could change."
Valencia, who has not had a significant minor league assignment since playing 85 games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2013, has no intention of going to the minor leagues if he doesn’t make the Orioles.
"I have nothing to prove down there," Valencia said. "I’ve been a productive big leaguer…Obviously, you want to be in the big leagues and I think it'll all work out."
Valencia was in the clubhouse on March 3, but not yet in uniform. He warmly greeted Adam Jones, with whom he played in 2013, and Colby Rasmus, a teammate from Toronto. He works out in Miami with Manny Machado.
"I’m excited to be back with these guys," Valencia said. "I’ve missed some of these guys, (Adam Jones) in particular, Manny (Machado), who I’m very close with, so I’m glad to be back."
The competition for a roster spot is likely to be difficult.
"I’m not sure how hard it’s going to be," said Valencia. "Obviously, that's up to them. At the same time, I’ve been a very productive big leaguer. The last three years I’ve shown that I can play in this game, play well and play at high levels. I'm up for it. I think that everything will handle itself and hopefully I’ll be in Baltimore with these guys."