February 2010

Koji to the Pen, Roberts has Back Spasms

Both of these stories will be on the site soon, but here’s the short version. Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara will be working out of the bullpen and second baseman Brian Roberts is dealing with back spasms, but is believed to be on track for the first full-squad practice on Feb. 23.

This is Trembley on the Koji decision:

“I think it’s in his (Uehara’s) best interests and the best way to get him through the entire season,” Trembley said.”There will be more opportunities for him to be successful and for us to win.”

Koji wasn’t available today, but he did say yesterday he was willing to do whatever the Orioles asked. His goal was to stay healthy and make it through the Major League season, and pitching out of the ‘pen should help alleviate some of his injuries. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz also pointed out that Koji struggled after he made it around the batting order. I looked it up and the numbers are striking.

1st plate app. opponents are batting .200
2nd time: .292
3rd time: .339

“I think he can fit a number of roles for us,” said Kranitz who believes Uehara is better suited for the bullpen given his two-pitch arsenal. Kranitz also said Uehara could be a few innings guy or just get a big out or two. He mentioned giving Jim Johnson or Mike Gonzalez a night off if need be.

As for Roberts, there was a report he had kidney stones, which Trembley cleared up by saying the second baseman has back spasms. Trembley texted back with him yesterday and Roberts said he was going to be a go for the first day of Spring Training. He’s still working out in Arizona.

Also, Trembley said the only pitcher who is restricted in camp right now is Brad Bergesen. I spoke with Bergesen a little, and he’s itching to get out on the mound, in what he hopes will be 10-14 days. Right now, he’s just doing some strengthening stuff and is glad to be back around baseball.


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It's On..

UPDATE 11:22 a.m.: The media spoke with Felix Pie earlier, who said says he is healthy and free of pain from the strained left quadriceps that ended his season in September of last year. Pie said it took the full 5 1/2 months but now he’s confident and ready to go.

Pitchers and catchers have their first workout today, but after a brief walk around the clubhouse the media was ushered out for player physicals.

Meanwhile, in between hanging out at the field and unpacking stuff at my condo, I’ve been trying to see the city of Sarasota.  Thank you to those recommending places to eat and check out in the area;some of the reporters went to Gus’ Diner across the street from the stadium for lunch yesterday and it was a cheap, and satisfying meal. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome meal we had last night at Mediterraneo on Main Street. Robert Messick, chair of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, was extremely hospitable to the Orioles front office and press, even printing out a list of the top places to eat.  And the owner of Mediterraneo is a lifelong Orioles fan, with a Baltimore cap hanging proudly behind the bar.

And if you need any other reasons to go, it was easily the best Italian meal of my life. And I grew up in pizza-mecca New Haven, Conn. and consider myself a bit biased in terms of Italian food.

I did get a chance to catch up briefly with Kam Mickolio yesterday, who is competing for one of the final three spots in the bullpen. The right-hander was shut down last year after he was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder. Mickolio has been down in Sarasota for about two weeks and said he threw around 10 bullpens already, all of which have gone well. He could factor in to the one of the remaining three spots in the bullpen.

If I had to guess, I’d say he makes the team as of right now. Even if the team opts to add a lefty specialist such as Ohman to the mix, that still leaves two spots after Mike Gonzalez, Jim Johnson, Mark Hendrickson and Koji Uehara. And Cla Meredith and Matt Albers will fight over the last right-handed spot. Keep in mind Albers is out of options, which means he would have to pass through waivers before going to Triple-A if he doesn’t make the team out of camp.

Gonzalez Arrives, Bergesen says will throw in 2 weeks

Pitchers and catchers officially reported to the Orioles new complex in Sarasota today, with most of the players opting to sleep in a little and arrive at Ed Smith Stadium around 10ish. (Although Chad Moeller and Jim Johnson were out throwing on the field around 9, and Koji was out running with his new trainer.)

Pretty good spirits all around the very spacious clubhouse. Guys seem genuinely excited and ready to start playing some baseball.

New closer Michael Gonzalez said he’s been ready to rumble for at least two weeks, and was excited for camp to start up.

“The big thing for me right now is coming in healthy,” Gonzalez
said. “I’m coming in 100 percent and feeling good about the situation.”

And the former Brave isn’t worried about fitting in with his new teammates.

“It shouldn’t take that long,” he said. “As far as being nervous,
it’s like going from one family to the next, except that I’m going to
have a lot more younger brothers than I’m used to.”

Top pitching prospect Jake Arrieta was also pretty amped, and the high 50 degree weather didn’t hurt. Apparently it gets cold in Austin, because Arrieta was sporting a full beard and said they got about nine inches in that nasty storm that went through the South last week. If you’re curious, he plans on shaving it later tonight.

Also, injured pitcher Brad Bergesen told the Baltimore Sun his progression has been great, and he expects to be back on the mound in the next two weeks.

“I don’t know how the next couple of weeks are going to go with the
progression,” Bergesen said. “But the way I feel, I feel great right
now. I think the next step is just leading up to some mound sessions. I
think in the next 12-14 days or so, I’ll probably be on the mound if all
goes as it has. … At one point, I was very worried about it before I
got under the care of [Assistant athletic trainer Brian Ebel]
Now, my mind is set on just getting ready
for the season.”

And a reminder for those who want to come down to practice, pitchers and catchers workout starting Thursday at 9:15 a.m. All practices are free and open to the public.


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Ed Smith Stadium- Oriole-ized

For those of you who aren’t following me on Twitter, (and really if you have it, you should!) I spent a good chunk of my day today taking pictures with my phone and my camera. Unfortunately, I made the rookie reporter mistake of leaving my camera cord at home, making it hard to upload the pics to my blog until now (another reason to join Twitter- it’s as simple as sending a text to put up pics).

So, my apologies. Here are some pics of the Orioles new digs, with a promise I will get more up when pitchers and catchers start filing in on Wednesday. And yes, I will put them up much quicker. The cord is already packed in my stadium bag.

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 The main entrance to the complex, with the clubhouse straight ahead and a few exits on the other side that lead out to the fields.

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 One of the side entrances, where most of the grounds keeping crew was out and about all morning making sure everything looked up to snuff. Trembley told me he was astonished by how quickly they turned the place around. I guess three weeks ago when he was down here it was a different story. Hats off to their hard work.

Orioles ST 006.jpg Batting cages at one of the practice fields.

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This says it all right here. Sarasota’s new team = the Orioles.

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 View from one of the stadium’s tunnel. This is my favorite picture. Can’t you just smell the hot dogs?

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 Ed Smith Stadium. Obviously.

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 Another view with the press box.

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Bergesen a Lesson?

In the wake of Brad Bergesen’s injury the AP just released a story regarding the Orioles new policy on commercials, which basically includes having a member of the team’s medical staff or baseball operations present for filming.

It’s not really a new policy, a team source told me it’s a non-issue and a basic precaution they are going to take going forward. There’s no newsy manual or any repercussion for Bergesen, who is expected to be 10 days behind when pitchers and catchers report Wednesday, and start practicing Thursday.

Not sure why the AP released that story today, but it really seems to mirror what Andy MacPhail told the Baltimore Sun (who broke the story) last Thursday.

“We have already made some adjustments in terms of making sure we have
medical personnel or baseball personnel present for anything we do in
the future,” MacPhail told the Sun.

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As the Orioles make their way down to Sarasota, your newest Baltimore Orioles reporter for MLB.com is in neighboring Bradenton, where today’s temperature in the 60s had me jumping for joy.  My name is Brittany Ghiroli and today marked my first official day on the beat. I’m beyond excited for this opportunity, so much so that I came down here three days before my condo’s ready to bond with some of my family. The sunshine and chance to escape the snow up and down I-95 didn’t hurt either.

If you’re a frequent reader of MLB.com you might have seen my byline a couple of other places, most recently during the Yankees’ World Series run. In addition to freelancing for the Mets and Yankees sites, I spent last year working for  MiLB.com and got my start as an associate reporter for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008.

With two years of experience in the AL East, I can assure you I will bring the complete and continual coverage of the O’s you’ve come to expect. Here you can find all the breaking news and analysis on the site, as well as pictures, behind-the-scenes anecdotes and other fun tidbits. It’s going to be an exciting year and I hope you will bookmark this site and follow me on Twitter for constant updates. I consider this blog a collaborative effort, so don’t be afraid to chime in with a question, comment or suggestion. I want to know what kind of stories you want, what’s bugging you about the team’s offseason moves and whether you think Matt Wieters is poised for a breakout year.

I’ll be headed to the team’s workout complex on Tuesday, with plenty of pictures and hopefully some good tidbits from the newly renovated Ed Smith Stadium.

Ladies and gentlemen, baseball season is upon us. And it’s a glorious thing.