SARASOTA — Colby Rasmus is making a new start with the Baltimore Orioles after taking an eight-month break from baseball.
Rasmus signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles this week, after abruptly leaving the Rays in midseason. The contract is for $3 million if he makes the Orioles and contains up to $2 million in incentives.
The 31-year-old outfielder, who had a lingering hip injury last season, discussed some of the reasons for his departure.
"I started working out at 8 or 9 years old to play in the big leagues, and I just kind of hit a point to where I was like, 'Man, I need to take a little break and enjoy some time with my family,'" Rasmus said. "My 8-year-old girl was in school, just had a boy who was 10 weeks old, so being able to spend time with them and keeping my wife feeling good through her pregnancy was important to me."
Rasmus has a .242 lifetime average in nine seasons with St. Louis, Toronto, Houston and Tampa Bay. He hit .281 with nine home runs and 23 RBIs in 37 games with the Rays last season.
Before the 2015 season, Rasmus contemplated signing with the Orioles. Manager Buck Showalter visited him at his Alabama home, but he decided to take an offer with the Houston Astros.
Showalter's visit was hard to forget.
"It was definitely a good impression. I thought we vibed together pretty well in the way he thinks and the way he operates," Rasmus said. "Kind of an old-school mentality. I grew up in a household that was kind of that way. My dad was pretty rough, so that doesn't bother me. It kind of helps me.
"So, the meeting we had was good. It didn't work out, but now here I am and hopefully it will be a good time."
Rasmus said he had MRI exams and X-rays on Wednesday and "everything was good."
He added: "Coming off surgery last year, I felt good. I felt like I was playing good baseball, so I hope to carry that over."
Showalter was positive about the medical review.
"The big thing with him is that his hip is healthy for the first time," he said.
Rasmus took batting practice before Baltimore's Grapefruit League opener on Friday, and Showalter will left him decide when he's ready to make his debut.
"This guy kind of knows the ropes," Showalter said. "He knows what's right and what's not, and I'll trust him."
Rasmus says the break refreshed him enough to give it another shot.
"I wasn't sure how I was going to feel, so I got back to working out and mentally I feel good," Rasmus said. "I feel like I still have a little bit left to give to the game and show the game some respect and go out in a good way."