Hunter expected to close for Orioles

Baltimore Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter is expected to take over as the team's closer, according to

The Orioles originally swapped closers with the Oakland A's when they traded Jim Johnson in early December for Grant Balfour and agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with the Australian. However, the Orioles called off the signing because they had concerns about his arm's health. Balfour eventually signed with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Baltimore then honed in on free agent Fernando Rodney, but he ended up signing with the Seattle Mariners.

Hunter, a former starter, pitched out of the Orioles' bullpen last season. He went 6-5 with a 2.81 ERA, 68 strikeouts, 14 walks and four saves in 86 1/3 innings.

The 27-year-old is 39-29 with a 4.48 ERA in 555 2/3 innings over his major-league career with the Texas Rangers (2008-10) and Orioles.

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