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Visa issues delay Sucre's arrival to O's camp

Bleier returns to mound after lat injury in 2018; back end of rotation still up for grabs
February 13, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. -- It may take the Orioles a little longer than expected to fully sift through their fluid and crowded catching situation. The club held its first pitchers and catchers workout on the backfields at soggy Ed Smith Stadium on Tuesday without Jesús Sucre, one of the several veterans

SARASOTA, Fla. -- It may take the Orioles a little longer than expected to fully sift through their fluid and crowded catching situation. The club held its first pitchers and catchers workout on the backfields at soggy Ed Smith Stadium on Tuesday without Jesús Sucre, one of the several veterans brought in to compete for a big league job this spring.
Sucre is being held up by visa issues in his native Venezuela, multiple club officials said. Sucre had a locker in the Orioles clubhouse Tuesday, when pitchers and catchers were officially required to report, but the nameplate was gone Wednesday. The Orioles summoned Cael Brockmeyer from Minor League camp to fill in until Sucre's arrival.:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
"Hopefully he's going to be here soon," manager Brandon Hyde said. "We're looking forward to him being in the mix once he gets here."
Of the three other Orioles players from Venezuela, catcher Carlos Perez reported to camp without issue and outfielder Anthony Santander is expected to do the same. Right-hander Gregory Infante is held back, but by an illness. Visa problems are not uncommon for players from Venezuela, though several have faced more serious hurdles in recent years due to the country's continuing political strife.
At this point, Sucre's complication is believed to be related to the late date on which he signed.
"As far as I know, it's just a visa issue, and I'm not sure of the reason behind it," Hyde said. "But that's all I know."
The O's didn't ink Sucre to a Minor League deal until Feb. 1, making him the last addition to what figures to be a wide-open competition behind the plate alongside Chance Sisco, Austin Wynns, Carlos Perez, Andrew Susac and Martin Cervenka. The 30-year-old sports the most big league experience of the group, having appeared in 223 games since 2013 across stints with the Mariners and Rays. He was Tampa Bay's primary backup the past two seasons, batting .232 with a .598 OPS across 135 games for the Rays.
"We're looking forward to digging in with these six guys," Hyde said. "We know what Sucre can do. We've all seen him the last few years. I am disappointed he's not here and am looking forward to him getting here."
Bleier back on the mound
Richard Bleier was among the 15 pitchers to hop on a mound for the first time this Spring Training, and the left-hander reported no issues in his continuing recovery from surgery on his left lat muscle. The bullpen session marked Bleier's fourth since undergoing surgery last June and his first throwing cutters. The next step in his rehab, throwing sliders, is set for next week.

The 31-year-old owns a 1.97 ERA across 111 career appearances, including 88 for the Orioles over the past two seasons. If Bleier is healthy, he's considered one of the few locks in a bullpen full of available jobs.
Worth noting
• In what's already become a mantra of spring camp, Hyde called the competition for the two available back-end rotation spots "pretty open."
"There are a lot of jobs to be won, and nothing is set in stone," he said.
Free-agent signing Nate Karns and holdover David Hess enter camp as favorites to land the No. 4 and No. 5 jobs, and both threw bullpen sessions Wednesday. But a slew of other candidates could pitch themselves into the mix as well. Those who fit that latter category and threw Wednesday include Jimmy Yacabonis, Luis Ortiz, Sean Gilmartin and Dillon Tate.
• Of all the new additions to the Orioles' camp, some of the more notable were the series of high-speed cameras propped up behind the bullpen mounds Wednesday. The cameras, designed to track mechanics and pitch movements, were the first visible evidence of the data-driven approach the new O's front office has vowed to bring to its player-development operation.
"It's just a start," Hyde said.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.