SARASOTA, Fla. - Vladimir Guerrero will officially become an Oriole once he passes his physical and signs his contract. He already turned plenty of heads when he arrived this morning, accompanied by agent Fernando Cuza, his cousin and a friend.
The cousin was wearing a bright pink T-shirt and skin-tight jeans. He bears enough of a resemblance to Guerrero, including the facial hair, that I initially thought the future Hall of Famer was making a fashion statement of some sort.
By the way, I've heard Guerrero described as a borderline Hall of Famer. I'm crossing the border. He's a career .320 hitter in 15 seasons and has slugged 436 home runs.
Reliever Clay Rapada was a teammate of Guerrero's in Texas last season.
"His presence is more just him being in the lineup every day. He's really competitive. You can tell when he gets frustrated," Rapada said.
"He's a professional hitter. He's been in the thick of a lot of great lineups and I think he's going to help this organization a lot. He's not really vocal. I consider him like a quiet storm. You see it, but you just don't hear it. He takes his job serious. You know what you're going to get with him, and that's his bat and his effort."
Jake Fox came up through the Cubs system with Rapada and already grilled the left-hander about Guerrero.
"I asked him, 'What's this guy like? What's he going to bring to the clubhouse?' And he said, 'Well, he's actually pretty quiet. He's the kind of guy you like to have around, but he just kind of keeps quiet and doesn't cause any problems,'" Fox said.
"I'm pretty excited about it. Anytime you get a guy of that caliber of talent who can come in here and be part of this team. ... The one thing that always runs through my mind is we have a great group of guys here and you don't want someone coming in here who's going to ruin it by being a bad apple, and I think that was the biggest thing to me, that he's a good guy and he works hard and he's a phenomenal talent. That's what I'm most excited about."
Matt Wieters was behind the plate two seasons ago when Chris Tillman bounced a pitch to Guerrero, who promptly lined it to left field for a single.
"I don't have to worry about calling a pitch that bounces and somebody hits it," Wieters said. "That's always good. I don't have to worry about trying to figure out how to call a game against a guy who can hit any pitch at any time."
Wieters also said that signing Guerrero is "huge because baseball is about consistency and you see what he's done for so many years. You put that guy in the lineup and it makes our lineup that much better because he gives you another middle-of-the-order hitter. We added another middle-of-the-order bat in Mark Reynolds. To get two this offseason is pretty special."
Adam Jones will dress at the opposite end of the row of lockers where Guerrero was unpacking his Rangers and Expos bags.
"I think all the guys we signed impact the lineup," Jones said. "He's the cleanup hitter, I would assume. His track record, you can pencil him into the cleanup spot. I think that throws away a lot of question marks and makes things easier.
"You can learn from him because he's been a winner and he's been successful. Anyone who's been successful, I think you can pick their brain in some aspect. I'm not going to ask him about everything he's ever learned, but I'm definitely going to pick his brain because he's a winner. I want to get that winning mentality that he has."