March 2010

The Matusz move & O's pitching news

A few more notes from Saturday’s pregame session with
manager Dave Trembley:

*Brian Matusz will pitch in a Minor League game on Monday,
with Alfredo Simon taking his spot against the Yankees. No real surprise here,
since the Orioles have tried to avoid running their starters out against
divisional foes. Kevin Millwood kicked off the Minors starts on Saturday and
the reasoning behind Jeremy Guthrie still throwing against the Blue Jays Sunday
is that he’s been in the AL East for a while now, so trying to “hide” Guthrie
isn’t really an option at this point.

*Trembley downplayed how important this start is Saturday for David
Hernandez.
While I blogged yesterday about the 5th rotation spot
basically being Tillman’s
, a strong showing by Hernandez against Boston’s regulars
would add some intrigue to the race. Especially given Tillman’s subpar outing
on Friday night, which included four walks.

*The backup catch job won’t be just handed to Chad Moeller.

“You’ll see [Craig] Tatum get a start, you’ll see Moeller
get a start,” Trembley said.  “You’ll see
that competition going down to the end, I believe.”

The Orioles like Tatum’s throwing arm, but Moeller carries
experience having been in the league -and particularly the AL East – for a
while. His locker is right next to Matt Wieters, which Andy MacPhail told me
earlier this spring is no coincidence. Much like Millwood, Moeller is expected
to help mentor and bring along the O’s promising young talent.

*Since snapping an 0-for-22 skid on Sunday, Nolan Reimold
has hit in four straight games. “Ty Cobb watch out,” Reimold joked of his
mini-streak.

In all seriousness, Reimold does appear to be running better
and Trembley said he talked to Nolan and told him he has to start showing that
he can run do certain things, such as play back-to-back games, steal a base,
etc. While he’s still not 100 percent, the Orioles can’t afford to baby him -and
essentially squander a roster spot – once the season starts.

B-Rob Checks In, Clarifying those who checked out

Brob.jpg

Brian Roberts walked into the clubhouse this morning,
breakfast in tow, and assured reporters his back felt fine.

While manager Dave Trembley had mentioned the possibility of
Roberts getting some extra at-bats in either of the team’s Minor League games
going on this afternoon, Roberts said he wasn’t planning on any game action
Saturday.

Instead he took batting practice with the team pregame Saturday morning, and will play on Sunday in Dunedin.

Also to clarify on yesterday’s cuts, none of those 9 guys that
were reassigned were out of options.  Matt Albers, Robert Andino, Jeremy Guthrie and
Felix Pie are the only players in camp who are out of options. Out of that
quartet, Albers is the only guy who is really fighting for a spot on the
Opening Day roster.

But he’s had a good spring and keep in mind the pending
status
of Koji Uehara could open up a third right-handed spot in the O’s
bullpen. If that happens, I’d guess Albers, Kam Mickolio and Cla Meredith all
make the team.

Millwood, Gonzo to thow in Minors games

Likely Opening Day starter Kevin Millwood will take his scheduled turn in the rotation
Saturday morning on the back fields of Ed Smith Stadium. The veteran
right-hander will look to get his pitch count over 100 in the Orioles Triple-A game against the Tampa Bay Rays prospects. Closer Mike Gonzalez will also pitch in the Double-A game and he said the goal is
to throw two innings.

The thought with both of those guys not pitching in the
Major League game is that the Orioles want to avoid the Boston Red Sox seeing
Millwood and Gonzalez until the regular season. 
It’s clearly not a sentiment shared by their divisional foes, since John
Lackey is slated to start Saturday’s Grapefruit League game.

And for my shameless
Spartan plug of the day
, Millwood has Michigan State in the team’s spread
poll. I guess that makes up (somewhat) for him being a Duke fan.

Orioles-Red Sox Lineups

 ORIOLES LINEUP

Felix Pie LF
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Matt Wieters C
Miguel Tejada 3B
Garrett Atkins 1B
Ty Wigginton DH
Justin Turner 2B
Cesar Izturis SS

David Hernandez RHP

Also expected to pitch: Will Ohman, Cla Meredith and Kam Mickolio.

RED SOX LINEUP

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Vi ctor Martinez 1B
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jeremy Hermida LF
Marco Scutaro SS
Josh Reddick RF
Tug Hulett DH
Dusty Brown CA

John Lackey RHP

Also expected to pitch: Alan
Embree, Joe Nelson, Fabio Castro, Hernando Cabrera

Trembley: Rotation won't be a shocker

tillman.jpg

Which means, (drumroll please) it will include Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian
Matusz, Brad Bergesen
and Chris
Tillman.

Trembley said pregame on Friday that the news will be
official as soon as Monday. But if you’re a Tillman fan, you can rest assured. Although it will be interesting to see what –if anything — would happen should David Hernandez have a good start Saturday against the Red Sox.

Tillman had his worst outing of the spring on Friday night,  allowing two runs on six hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings. The line doesn’t look bad, but Tillman never looked comfortable against the Twins lineup, letting some of his frustration about the strike zone bubble over. He tossed 88 pitches (51 for strikes) and surrendered a solo homer to Jacque Jones in the second inning. 

Following the start, Tillman mentioned how long the outing felt and called the laborious third inning “unacceptable”.

“I was working hard to get early contact and [the Twins batters] just kind of stood
there and watched them, and someone made a comment to me that it means
you’re probably throwing pretty good pitches and are just missing,” Tillman
said. “I thought most of those could have gone either way. I thought a
lot of them were right around the zone.”

Manager Dave Trembley noted that Tillman had too many three-ball counts and his pace of the game was a stark contrast to Twins starter Scott Baker. Baker, Minnesota’s Opening Day starter, made quick of the Orioles in the first half of the game, retiring 13 straight batters until Adam Jones’ single with one out in the fifth.

More on B-Rob's debut

Brian Roberts is
hitting leadoff, which is certainly a shot in the arms for the Orioles lineup.
The switch-hitter was launching balls during Friday’s pregame batting practice
and it will be interesting to see how he responds.

Manager Dave Trembley said that Roberts will not play in
Saturday afternoon’s game against the Red Sox. That makes sense, since playing
a night game after a day game, at this stage of his recovery, wouldn’t make
much sense.

“If he feels like it, he can go to the back fields
tomorrow and get some extra at-bats,” Trembley said, “but that’s not
necessary.”

Roberts won’t get any more than three at-bats Friday night,
and will likely play five innings.

When I was talking to Adam Jones the other day about how important Roberts is in that No. 1 spot, Jones had the perfect description.

“He’s the heartbeat of our lineup,” Jones said.

Jones, who will likely be the team’s No. 2 batter this season, also benefits from Roberts always being on base. Read: a lot of fastballs.

Koji cuts workout short, based on allergies

Koji Uehara did a
flat ground session today, but he had his scheduled running cut short mainly
due to allergies.

Koji said he took it easy and didn’t think Friday was the
day to push it, so he stopped.  And for
those wondering if that was an excuse, I should mention that his eyes were
watery and he looked like a guy suffering from allergies.

Manager Dave Trembley said that the team physicians were
going to examine Koji -who has been sidelined with a left hamstring strain -
later in the day.  There’s still no
timetable for when he will get back to throwing on the mound and he is listed
as day-to-day.

Orioles-Twins lineup

Here are the lineups for today’s game with Brian Roberts scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut…

ORIOLES LINEUP

Brian Roberts 2B

Miguel Tejada 3B

Nick Markakis RF

Matt Wieters DH

Adam Jones CF

Luke Scott 1B

Nolan Reimold LF

Craig Tatum C

Cesar Izturis SS

RHP Chris Tillman

 

TWINS LINEUP

Denard Span CF

Alexi Casilla SS

Michael Cuddyer RF

Jacque Jones DH

Delmon Young LF

Brendan Harris 3B

Wilson Ramos CA

Brock Peterson 1B

Matt Tolbert 2B

RHP Scott Baker

*I will update the team’s cuts as soon as I hear. For quicker updates follow me on Twitter. 

*And in case you were curious, tonight’s Sweet 16 Spartans game starts at 9:25 p.m.

Orioles Cuts

The clubhouse is closed to the media because the Orioles are
making cuts. We were in there for about 30 minutes and it wasn’t hard to guess
who was moving over based on their street clothes and faces.

Brandon Snyder, Josh Bell, Rhyne Hughes, Jonathan Tucker,
Dennis Sarfate
and Pedro Florimon were packing their bags and have 72 hours to
report to Minor League camp in the adjoining locker room.  Michael Aubrey, Frank Mata and Josh Perrault were also assigned to Minor League camp.

In 17 games, Bell went 7-for-31, including a homer from both
sides of the plate in the team’s Grapefruit League opener.

Snyder was 6-for-18 with one home run and three RBIs in 13
games. He also played some impressive defense at first and said he was good with the move because he knows where he stands in the organization.

Also, the Orioles made official the Stockstill brothers swap.

Bergesen Stops Yanks

Brad Bergesen
looked the best he’s looked all spring, and afterwards agreed that Thursday’s
outing was superior in nearly every way to his prior three.

“I felt that much more like myself today and I just need to
continue to build on it,” Bergesen said.

After retiring the first seven straight
batters, Bergesen pitched his
way out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning, which was mostly a result of
Garrett Atkins’ dropped foul pop-up.

 Facing a lineup predominantly of
Yankee regulars, Bergesen exited with two outs in the sixth inning, allowing
three hits with two walks and two strikeouts. The right-hander held sluggers
Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira 0-for-4 with a walk and fanned A-Rod in his
first two plate appearances.

All in all, an impressive outing for
Bergesen. He looked the best he’s looked all spring and did it against the
defending World Champions.  He tossed 76 pitches and managed to stay on
track despite a long delay in between innings in the fourth, when home plate
ump John Hirschbeck left the game.

“Today was the best I’ve felt,” Bergesen said.  “Going up against the Yankees and being able
to go 5 2/3 helped out, builds the confidence and I just got to finish up the next
couple weeks and get ready [for the season.]“

Bergesen wasn’t completely satisfied with his outing,
mentioning a few bad decisions on 0-2 counts in the fifth inning.

” I know I keep saying it, but there’s still a couple things
I need to start doing to feel back to where I was before the leg injury, before
the arm injury,” Bergesen said. “But given the circumstances, yes, this is
exactly where I’d like to be at this point.”

Bergesen had allowed two runs in each of his previous three starts. With Thursday’s solid effort, his ERA is now 3.77 through 14 1/3 innings. He didn’t need to have this start, but it’s certainly an outing that will help his confidence going forward as Opening Day nears. 

After taking a liner off his shin to end his season last  July, Bergesen was slowed this spring by a strained right shoulder capsule suffered while filming a team commercial in December.

***

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