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Orioles sign outfielder Quintin Berry to minor league deal

The Orioles have signed outfielder Quintin Berry to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league spring training camp, the club announced Friday.

Berry, 29, made his major league debut two years ago with the Detroit Tigers, hitting .258/.330/.354 with 10 doubles, two homers, 29 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 330 plate appearances.

Known mostly for his speed on the basepaths, Berry is a perfect 29-for-29 on stolen-base attempts in his big league career, including the playoffs. Despite not receiving a plate appearance, he played a role for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox last season, stealing three bases in the postseason.

“He’s a good outfielder. He gets on base against righties,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “He’s an excellent base stealer. ... He adds a lot of energy to a team.”

In his brief major league career, the left-handed hitting Berry has received most of his at-bats against right-handed pitching, and he owns a .277/.357/.372 slash line against righties.

Berry is a close friend of Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, and they were teammates at Morse High School in San Diego.

Jones and Berry were often together while growing up in a southeast San Diego neighborhood that was riddled with violence and drugs but also produced major leaguers Jacque Jones, Kevin Mitchell and former Orioles Mark McLemore and Sam Horn.

As kids, Jones sometimes stayed at Berry's home, sharing a bedroom with him. The duo spent lots of time together — Jones has called Berry his best friend — and found fun in baseball, playing video games and planning practical jokes on each other.

They took much different paths to the major leagues. Jones was a first-round pick out of high school and moved quickly through the Seattle Mariners' minor league system, making his major league debut at 20. Berry opted to play college ball at San Diego State, then toiled through the minors before getting his first taste of the majors in 2012.

The Orioles are Berry’s eighth organization since he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth round in 2006. He began last season with the Tigers, was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals in June and was traded to Boson in August from right-hander Clayton Mortensen.

Through eight minor league seasons, Berry owns a career .353 on-base percentage, but he hit just .191/.309/.257 in 110 minor league games in 2013. He was 30-for-34 on steal attempts.

eencina@baltsun.com

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