Wednesday morning Orioles observations on Valencia, Canzler and the Babe's birthday

In case you missed it last night, Orioles utility man Danny Valencia was linked to a now-defunct South Florida clinic, Biogenesis, that allegedly provided performance-enhancing drugs to Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, among others.

In a report that came out Tuesday night, Yahoo Sports had documents from the clinic that include Valencia’s name, though the list doesn’t connect Valencia to any specific performance-enhancing drug.

On a national scope, Valencia, who is with his third organization since the beginning of the 2012 season, is a footnote. The report’s headliner is 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun, who failed a drug test for elevated testosterone but had his suspension overturned by appeal.

Still, it shows that no organization is immune from the PED scope, even now.

It should be known that Valencia has denied any connection to the lab. He said he’s never done any performance-enhancing drugs, that he’s never failed a drug test and that he’s never met or spoken with anyone from Biogenesis. A written statement released late Tuesday night, Valencia said he’s eager to cooperate with MLB’s investigation and even said that he’d consider legal action.

That’s a pretty strong stance. And unfortunately for Valencia, most statements like these ring somewhat hollow until there’s more fact gathering. And that has nothing to do with Valencia. It has more to do with strong denials we’ve heard in the past from players with larger profiles.

Having said that, this probably couldn’t happen at a worse time for Valencia. Valencia will be fighting for a roster spot this spring. And while Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has trumpeted Valencia as a possible right-handed designated hitter against left-handed pitching – he has a career .316 average against lefties – there are plenty of others in the mix for that role.

Duquette also liked the right-vs.-left numbers of Russ Canzler, whom the Orioles claimed off waivers earlier Tuesday. And we all know that Orioles manager Buck Showalter like having some flexibility with the DH spot, so you can assume Chris Davis, Nolan Reimold and Nate McLouth could see some time there as well.

Valencia does have a minor league option remaining, so he could be sent to Triple-A Norfolk, where he would likely be the everyday third baseman, but Valencia obviously signed with the Orioles to have another chance at the big leagues.

-- Speaking of Canzler, a 26-year-old who had put up some quality run-production numbers his past two years in the minors, he will likely see most of his at bats at first base, especially considering the surplus of outfielders the Orioles already have.

They’re also starting to have a surplus at first base. Chris Davis will have the opportunity to win the position after struggling defensively there last season. But the Orioles also have intriguing depth with Canzler and newcomer Travis Ishikawa, who was signed to a minor league deal. The Orioles tried to sign Ishikawa last season, but he opted for Milwaukee and now comes at a lower cost. Duquette loves his experience -- he spent parts of four seasons with the Giants before going to Milwaukee -- and his defense.

More than anything, credit Duquette with padding the minor league system with some valuable corner infield depth. Both Canzler and Ishikawa could open the season at Norfolk because Canzler has a minor league option remaining. Then again, Canzler could be the first to go if the Orioles need to make 40-man space between now and the beginning of spring training. Canzler has been on waivers four times this offseason, you know.

-- One other item of note: Today marks the 118th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s birth, and the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation has a few events planned to celebrate.

On Friday, the foundation holds it’s annual Babe’s Birthday Bash at the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, which will include special guests from the Orioles, Colts, the University of Maryland and other Maryland sports personalities. Tickets are $45-$55 and can be purchased at baberuthmuseum.org.

Also, on Saturday, the Babe Ruth Birthplace will host the debut of “O Say Can You See,” a high-tech multidimensional film that explores the meaning of the national anthem in sports. Also on Saturday, author Morris Eckhouse will host a program about Babe Ruth’s called shot.

Another added bonus, kids ages 14 and under will receive free admission on both Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, go to baberuthmuseum.org.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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