March 2010

Tillman, Hernandez speak

We won’t know what president of baseball operations Andy
MacPhail and manager Dave Trembley think about the fifth starter decision until
after the game, but both David Hernandez and Chris Tillman spoke about the
move, which slots Hernandez in the rotation and Tillman in Triple-A.

There was definitely shock value,” said
Hernandez, who found out about 10 minutes before he spoke with the media. “I was
surprised, to be honest. It’s everybody’s dream to be on a major league roster,
let alone on the Opening Day roster. It’s something special.”

 

“I felt like I was not the lead
candidate going in, but you can’t look at it like that. That just makes you
want to work harder. Hopefully, I pushed Tillman to get better and I pushed
[Jason] Berken to get better. Tillman’s going to start plenty of times. There’s
no doubt about it. He’s that good of a pitcher.”

Tillman held it together pretty well,
although you could tell he was struggling to keep his composure.

“I don’t think I was blindsided,
but I did think mentally like it was a battle. I think that was the only fair
way to go about it. I went into the offseason with that mentality,” Tillman
said. “I did expect more of myself, obviously. I didn’t pitch as well as I probably
should have. It is what it is.”

Tillman spent most of the spring
working on his cutter, and was asked if he would have done things a little
different had he known the competition was results-based.

“No, [what] is getting me ready
for the season is working on things, you know?” he said.  “I think if I were to stick with my fastball,
change-up curveball it would have been a totally different outcome. I was
working on my cutter. I’m not saying where I would have been, but I think the
results would have been a different outcome.”

Tatum, Hernandez In- Tillman, Moeller out

SARASOTA, Fla. — David Hernandez will be the Orioles’ fifth starter, a move that was made official before Tuesday’s game. Hernandez’s primary competition, Chris Tillman, will open the year in Triple-A.

Craig Tatum also won the backup catcher’s spot, leaving veteran Chad
Moeller to ponder whether to accept a Minor League assignment.

Although Tillman opened camp considered the front-runner, Hernandez thrust his name into fifth-starter contention with his recent outings. He retired nine of the first 10 Red Sox batters he faced Saturday, allowing four hits over five scoreless innings with six strikeouts. He lowered his spring ERA to a 3.00 in the process, and impressed manager Dave Trembley with his tenacity and ability to escape several key jams — including a bases-loaded, no-out scenario in the fourth. Hernandez hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past 8 2/3 innings.

Although he started the spring pitching out of the bullpen, Hernandez capitalized on the opportunities he was given to start. He made his first appearance as a starter on March 16, and is 1-1 in two official Grapefruit League starts, not including a 75-pitch outing in a Minor League game. In 15 innings, Hernandez has allowed five earned runs, and he has 20 strikeouts to three walks.

In five spring games, Tillman had a 3.86 ERA, allowing seven earned runs over 16 1/3 innings.The 21-year-old’s strikeout-to-walk ratio (9K/10BB) is a glaring statistic, particularly given that the Orioles have made it clear the kid gloves are off, and they won’t carry a 13th pitcher on the team.

The third candidate for the job, Jason Berken, is expected to make the Opening Day roster in place of injured Koji Uehara, and will likely be the Orioles second long-inning man.

The O's roster picture

I’ve gotten a lot of emails and
Twitter messages about the O’s Opening Day roster. With the fifth starter
announcement coming later today, here’s how things are going to shake out. I’m
assuming that Koji will go to the disabled list, like he said yesterday. 

Also, David Hernandez is expected to win the No. 5
spot
over Chris Tillman. It makes sense for a variety of reasons. Hernandez
will fly home to the West Coast Wednesday for a family matter, and his next
scheduled start was moved from Friday to Saturday (which will probably be a
Minor League game.)

The backup catcher job should be announced soon as well. It’s between Chad Moeller and Craig Tatum.

Starters: Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, David
Hernandez

Bullpen: Jason Berken,
Will Ohman, Cla Meredith, Matt Albers, Mark Hendrickson, Jim Johnson, Mike
Gonzalez.

Catchers: Matt Wieters, Tatum/Moeller

Infielders:  Miguel Tejada, Brian
Roberts, Garret Atkins, Cesar Izturis, Ty Wigginton, Robert Andino

Outfielders: Nolan Reimold, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Felix Pie, Luke Scott.

OPENING DAY LINEUP: Roberts, Jones, Markakis, Tejada, Scott (DH), Wieters, Atkins, Pie, Izturis

*Sidenote for Reimold fans: He’s still going to play a lot, although he will platoon until he’s 100 percent. He’s been hitting the ball well since snapping the 0-for-22 skid and is running much, much better than the beginning of camp. Safe to say he won’t need a DL stint and will open as a platoon with Pie until that left Achilles is full throttle.

O's pitchers for the rest of spring

Jason Berken will start Wednesday’s
game against the Red Sox in Sarasota. Thursday’s starter against the Rays in
Port Charlotte hasn’t been announced, but Kevin Millwood and Mark Hendrickson
will pitch in a Triple-A game.

Alfredo Simon will get the nod  Friday
against the Yankees in Tampa, while Jeremy Guthrie pitches in a Minor League
game. Brian Matusz starts the exhibition finale on Saturday against the Mets in
Sarasota. David Hernandez was originally on the schedule for Thursday but he
will be back on the West Coast for a family matter, and said he will pitch
Saturday. Since Matusz is already scheduled, Hernandez will probably throw a
Minor League game.

Lineups, return of Gathright

The Orioles have signed outfielder Joey Gathright to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring
Training.  He is expected to be here
later on today.  Ironically enough,  Gathright was released by the Toronto Blue
Jays on Sunday when Baltimore was in Dunedin. He’s not expected to make the
team but will provide some outfield depth for the rest of the week.

Brian Roberts is playing today, marking his first back-to- back games this spring.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Brian Roberts 2B
Felix Pie LF
Adam Jones CF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Garrett Atkins 1B
Luke Scott DH
Lou Montanez RF
Craig Tatum C
Cesar Izturis SS

Brad Bergesen RHP

TIGERS LINEUP

Austin
Jackson CF
Johnny Damon LF
Magglio Ordonez CF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Carlos Guillen DH
Brandon Inge 3B
Alex Avila C
Scott Sizemore 2B
Ramon Santiago

Dontrelle
Willis LHP

Yankees 11, Orioles 7

Some postgame fodder from the
wind-aided homer happy night at Ed Smith Stadium…

*Nolan Reimold went 3-for-5 with two runs scored to raise his
average to .231. Pretty impressive considering a little over a week ago he was batting
triple zeroes
.
 

“He’s running considerably
better,” Trembley said of Reimold, who played all nine innings in the field, starting
in left and later shifting to right.  The
plan is to get him in the outfield in back-to-back games sometime this week,
which would be one of the final tests for Reimold’s heel. He’s been slowed by
offseason surgery on his left Achilles tendon.

*Brian Roberts had his first hit, a double that one-hopped to the
right field fence in the third inning. Trembley said his timing looked better
than it did Friday night, and from my vantage point Roberts just seemed more
comfortable up there. He also walked and struck out twice but saw more pitches
than in his first Spring Training game. 

Trembley said Roberts did some
conditioning after he came out of the game and wants to play again Tuesday
afternoon.  That would be his first
back-to-back games this spring and, assuming he comes out of that OK, a huge
boost for the O’s.

*Despite Jeremy
Guthrie’s struggles
, Trembley said he’s not worried about the right-hander.

“When he gives me real good
pitches, he gives me a lot to look forward to,” Trembley said of Guthrie. He
also thought Guthrie’s location was better than in previous outings.

Interesting given that Guthrie
hit two batters and walked four.

Jeremy's spoken

guthrie.jpg


I nabbed the blog title from fellow
beat writer Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Way too good to pass up.

Anyways, we just talked to  Jeremy
Guthrie
who acknowledged that he was all over the zone tonight against the
Yankees. His final line included four walks and seven strikeouts, so by
definition you could call him effectively wild. At least, at times. He also
plunked two Yankees, Mark Teixeira and Francisco Cervelli, with Teixeira
exiting the game with a right elbow contusion.

Guthrie said pitching coach Rick
Kranitz asked him to amp it up a little bit on Friday night to make sure he was
ready to go for the season, and wasn’t quite sure if that’s what caused his
wildness.

Guthrie lowered his ERA slightly, from
7.47 to 7.40, but said his confidence is good following what is expected to be
his final spring tune up.

“The last two outings, I really feel
like the ball has been moving. And for me, if the ball is moving, I feel very
good about it,” Guthrie said.  “Now, I just got to get the location in the
zone more consistently and I think the results would be some quicker outs for
me. But to see that ball move the last two outings for me was good. I really
felt like last year, I had one or two starts where the ball moved. When the
ball doesn’t move, you feel like you have to have perfect location. When it’s
moving, you have more leeway.”

Walks aside, Guthrie said he only
wanted back one pitch, a belt-high fastball that Robinson Cano sent over the
fence for a three-run homer in the first inning.

“It didn’t have the bite that the other
ones had and he put a good swing on it, hit it hard,” Guthrie said of Cano’s
knock.  “I’m going to look at [the outing] pitch-by-pitch, but I feel like
I executed some good pitches.”

Still Guthrie’s effectiveness this
spring is cause for concern. He has allowed four or more earned runs in three
of his last four spring starts and hasn’t pitched more than five innings.

“The body is fine,” Guthrie said.
 “When the lights are on, I’ll go out there and I’d like to go out to 105
pitches. If I’m more efficient, that means six, seven innings instead of just
five. But I don’t think there is a concern that I haven’t been stretched past
five innings. If I’m at 85 pitches [April 7] in Tampa, I’m sure I’ll pitch the
seventh and it won’t matter how many innings I worked here.”

“[Friday night] was just building
to see if I can continue that movement that I had in Florida. It was the second
part of feeling comfortable with the fastball. I feel good where I’m at.”

Guthrie struggles, B-Rob breaks through

Jeremy Guthrie yielded a
three-run homer, four walks and hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch (causing him to
exit the game) all in the first two innings.  He also hit Francisco Cervelli in the right
arm to open the fourth. Guthrie exited after five, allowing five runs (four earned) on three hits with four walks and two hit batters. He struck out seven.

Brian Roberts connected for his
first hit this spring, sending a 1-1 pitch from Yankees starter Javier Vazquez to
the right field wall on a hop.  Starting
in just his second game, Roberts was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts prior to the
third-inning double. He’s been slowed this spring by a herniated disc in his
lower back and the hope is he can play back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday.

The Lineup debate, updated

On Sunday, manager Dave Trembley
dropped a few hints about the Opening Day lineup, which caused me to speculate
about what that would look like
.

Today, Trembley basically said
Felix Pie will be the starting left fielder for April 6’s opener against Tampa
Bay. Trembley smiled when it was brought up that Monday’s lineup looked an
awful lot like an Opening Day lineup, minus Pie.

If that line of thinking holds
true, here’s what you can expect:

Roberts, Jones, Markakis, Tejada,
Scott, Wieters, Atkins, Pie (instead of Reimold, who was in Monday’s lineup),
Izturis.

The Rays are throwing
right-hander James Shields on Opening Day, so you could see the bottom of the
order shift a little. Honestly, I’d put Pie in front of Atkins, because I think
he’s a stronger bat. But that’s just my opinion.

5th Starter to be announced Tuesday

David Hernandez.jpg

tillman.jpg

Although Chris
Tillman
and David Hernandez are slated
to make one more spring start, on Thursday and Friday, respectively, by this
time tomorrow we should know who will be the Orioles fifth starter.

Manager Dave Trembley said the competition is down to two
guys, which I had already blogged about earlier this week. With Koji Uehara’s move to the
disabled list eminent
, Jason
Berken
should make the Opening Day bullpen as the team’s second long man.

I also wrote earlier this week about Hernandez
replacing Tillman
as the frontrunner to win the spot. I stand by that.

To his credit, Hernandez, who likely knows whether or not he’s
on the team, told me he hasn’t been informed one way or the other.

“It’s a big secret,” he said with a smile.

Hernandez has thrust his name to the fifth-starter forefront
with his recent outings. He retired nine of the first 10 Red Sox batters he
faced Saturday, allowing four hits over five scoreless innings with six
strikeouts. He lowered his spring ERA to a 3.00 in the process, and impressed
Trembley with his tenacity and ability to escape several key jams — including
a bases-loaded, no-out scenario in the fourth.

To his credit, Tillman has said all
along that he has approached this spring as a situation he must win, rather
than have it handed to him. The 21-year-old was visibly frustrated with
Friday’s performance, which was an 88-pitch outing that yielded two runs on
four walks and four hits. It’s worth noting that Tillman’s struggles came
against a Minnesota lineup that didn’t have the power bats of Justin Morneau
and Joe Mauer, two Twins who would certainly be in a regular-season game.

In five spring games, Tillman has
a 3.86 ERA, allowing seven earned runs over 16 1/3 innings. His
strikeout-to-walk ratio (9K/10BB) is a glaring statistic, particularly given
the fact that the Orioles have made it clear the kid gloves are off and they
won’t carry that extra 13th pitcher.

Trembley said prior to Monday’s game that the decision will come Tuesday, so both guys will know where they stand in the organization for their final start.

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