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O's sign reliever Escalona to one-year deal

Right-hander working on repertoire in Venezuelan Winter League

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles added some more pitching depth on Wednesday afternoon, signing right-handed Edgmer Escalona to a one-year deal.

The 27-year-old Escalona went 1-4 with a 5.67 ERA for the Rockies last season, posting career highs in appearances (37), innings (46) and strikeouts (34). He has been pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he has the fourth-best ERA (2.10) over six starts (34 1/3 innings).

"He's been a reliever in the big leagues and Colorado. Right now, he's pitching as a starter so that he can develop the pitches he needs to be a good Major League pitcher," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said of how the organization views Escalona. "I think the club can decide in the spring, but the good news is he's working on what he needs to work on to be a good Major League pitcher."

Escalona went 1-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 78 relief appearances over four years for the Rockies, striking out 6.4 batters per nine innings. He went 19-16 with a 3.85 ERA in 259 relief outings over eight Minor League seasons in the Colorado system. Escalona was signed Sept. 8, 2004, as an undrafted free agent.

"He's a big strong right-hander and has a good fastball," Duquette said. "[He's] working on developing pitches he needs to get lefties out."

The move puts the Orioles' 40-man roster at 33 players with the deadline for clubs to set their roster at midnight ET on Wednesday in advance of next month's Rule 5 Draft. Duquette said the O's will add a few more names before the day is through.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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