Hendrickson staying in organization (with quotes)

The Orioles have reached agreement with free-agent left-hander Mark Hendrickson on a minor league deal with a spring training invitation, according to a team official.

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Just when Hendrickson thinks he's out, they pull him back in.

Actually, the York, Pa. resident never wanted to leave.

Hendrickson will try to join Michael Gonzalez as the second left-hander in the bullpen. He'll get competition from Clay Rapada, also signed to a minor league deal over the winter.

The Orioles re-signed Hendrickson on Feb. 9, 2010. They declined his option after the season, but still held interest in bringing him back.

Hendrickson is 7-11 with a 4.74 ERA in two seasons with the Orioles covering 105 games. He can be used in long, middle and situational relief. He's also made 12 starts with the Orioles, but he'll go to camp strictly as a bullpen guy.

The Colorado Rockies also were interested in Hendrickson, but they don't play anywhere near York, Pa.

I just got off the phone with Hendrickson and here's what he said about re-signing with the Orioles:

"It's been kind of a strange offseason. I remember when they didn't pick up my option and being a little bit scared, and more so not from a baseball standpoint, but a family standpoint. We had a new baby on the way, and I think a lot of people don't realize I have a 16-year-old step-daughter who I can't just take out of school. It's not like I can just uproot my family and they go wherever I'm playing. So, the way everything unfolded, to be back with the Orioles at this point is awesome. It was a weird offseason, but I couldn't be happier."

Minor league deals don't come with many guarantees, but Hendrickson is confident that he'll win a spot in the bullpen. But first, he needed a chance to compete, which almost didn't happen.

"Obviously, if they signed Joe Beimel, I'm probably going to be in Colorado, but that fell through and the opportunity was there, and I'm extremely happy and confident," he said. "It'll be good to see the boys. And I just like the direction we're headed, the way we finished last season and the moves Andy (MacPhail) has made. I think everybody's excited.

"I played against all the guys they brought in. They're good guys, and I think having them is a natural fit."

Hendrickson already was leaning toward staying with the Orioles, but those feelings grew stronger over the weekend.

"I think what swayed me is I had a clinic here for kids and I asked them where I should go, Baltimore or Colorado, and they were all in favor of Baltimore," he said. "And the fan base, having people in their late 70s and early 80s come up to me and genuinely show enthusiasm for the season, lifelong Orioles fan itching to get behind a winner, that's encouraging and exciting."

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