May 2010

All things Bergy and Butler

How bad are things going for the O’s right now? Brad Bergesen is told to throw a pitch away to Billy Butler, as in out of the strike zone, and instead leaves on for Butler to crush for a decisive RBI-double.

“He’d been kind of getting me out the last two times before that on sliders,” Butler said. “He left one over the plate and I wasn’t going to wait. I was just ready first-pitch to hit one.”
Bergesen said it was simply missed location.

“[Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and Wieters both came out there and told me, ‘All 0-2 pitches, everything out of the zone.’ And sure enough, first pitch, I try and get it down and I hung one right in the zone and he made me pay for it,” Bergesen said.  “I can’t do that. That was the deciding factor in the game. “

“Absolutely, that was a missed location. They told me to have it out of the zone and I left it in the middle of the plate.”

You might recall Butler was the guy ended Bergesen’s season on a liner that hit his left shin in start last July.

“I knew I was going to face a couple of questions about [facing him],” Bergesen said. “No, it wasn’t in the back of my mind at all. I was more affected by him hitting that double today like he did. He’s a good hitter.”

From the other side..

The Orioles have lost three straight. The Royals have won 3 out of 4 since dismissing Trey Hillman in favor of Ned Yost. Before I get a million emails, I’m just saying- these appear to be two clubs in different directions right now.

Here’s  Royals starter Kyle Davies on the managerial change giving them an edge…

“I think this team has always had the ability to play well – always. We have a great mix of guys and we all have great chemistry. I don’t think there’s any correlation in a change in managers. Guys are playing well now. We went through a six-game losing streak and I think four of the six games were by one run. We won tonight’s one-run game. To be successful as a big league team you have to be able to win those one-run games.”

If you’re curious the Orioles are 6-7 in one-run games this season, with Monday’s loss included.

“We didn’t have a lot of chances, but every chance we got, we scored one or we got a big hit. I think our defense tonight probably saved me a couple of runs,” Davies said. “To get out of those situations, you’ve got to have some good plays made behind you and we made them and we were able to capitalize on our end.”

“Especially the first couple of innings, there was a lot of baserunners and they didn’t score a whole lot of runs. As soon as you get past, you think, ‘It’s got to get better from here.’ You get out of that with only one run given up and you feel pretty good about it.”

Hernandez "pinch-free" on Monday

David Hernandez remains on his regular between-starts regimen and is hopeful he will make Friday’s start in Washington.  Hernandez threw from 90 and 120 feet on Monday without any of the pinching sensation that prevented him from making Sunday’s start.

“I was able to get on top of everything and really get in my arm slot,” Hernandez said.

He said the discomfort in his right shoulder was “very minimal” during light catch on Sunday, and the big test will be Tuesday’s side session.

“I’m assuming if I come through that, I’ll make my next start,” Hernandez said. “I’m going to be fine.”

 Trembley expressed equal confidence that the precautionary measure of skipping a start would alleviate the problem.  The team will have to make a decision concerning Friday’s start after Hernandez’s side session.

Orioles/Royals lineup and tidbits

*Brian Roberts will report to the team’s facility in Sarasota, Fla. on Wednesday and is expected to continue to progress in baseball-related activities until he can go on a rehab assignment.

*Mike Gonzalez threw to live hitters for the first time today, tossing live BP in Sarasota.
 
*Much has been made about Nolan Reimold playing first base yesterday, and Orioles manager Dave Trembley acknowledged that Reimold will play first pretty regularly while in Triple-A.  He admitted he’s not sure if Reimold -who is nine months removed from Achillies heel surgery – will ever have the same agility and mobility that he did before the injury.

*Koji to close? It’s a possibility Trembley wouldn’t rule out.

As always, more details to come on Orioles.com. But here are the lineups for today’s game as the forecast has some light rain, but the team is confident they’ll get the game in. (As I type this, they are taking the tarp off the field.)

Orioles starter Brad Bergesen faces Kansas City for the first time since he was struck by a Billy Butler liner to the shin last July. He will be opposed by Kyle Davies.

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Corey Patterson LF
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 2B
Miguel Tejada 3B
Luke Scott DH
Matt Wieters C
Adam Jones CF
Garrett Atkins 1B
Cesar Izturis SS
Brad Bergesen RHP

ROYALS LINEUP:

Scott Podsednik LF
Mike Aviles 2B
David DeJesus RF
Billy Butler 1B
Jose Guillen DH
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Mitch Maier CF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jason Kendall C
Kyle Davies RHP

Why not Tillman or Arrieta's turn?

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails and tweet questions about the Orioles decision to go with Mark Hendrickson for Sunday’s spot start instead of recalling top pitching prospects Jake Arrieta or Chris Tillman. If you haven’t already read it, David Hernandez was scratched from the start and is day-to-day with left shoulder discomfort.
 
Orioles manager Dave Trembley said there was no thought to bring up a Minor League pitcher, saying he preferred to keep it in-house for one start.

There are a few factors that went into the decision starting with…
1)    Neither Tillman or Arrieta were on schedule to start Sunday. If you’re a loyal blog reader  — and if you aren’t, you should be ;-) – you’d know that both of them just pitched on the 14th and 15th.  They each took a loss for the Tides against Buffalo.
2)    While Tillman is on the team’s 40 man roster, Arrieta is not, meaning it would require some shuffling to add him to the roster and possibly cost the Orioles a player.
3)    Hernandez fully expected to make this start. The final decision didn’t come down until Saturday night and yanking Tillman or Arrieta out of upstate New York for a late flight to make their season (or in Arrieta’s case, professional) debut isn’t ideal.
4)    Mark Hendrickson has good numbers against Cleveland. He entered Sunday 1-0 in five games (four starts) against the Indians, with a 4.38 ERA.

With all that being said, if Hernandez develops into a DL scenario it certainly changes things in regards to who the Orioles use in that fifth spot. This is an interesting situation and one to keep an eye on. While Trembley was confident Hernandez would start Friday, the right-hander was less certain. I don’t doubt that Hernandez wants to pitch -especially against an opponent that’s not the Yankees or Red Sox – but shoulder injuries can linger.

You get the sense in talking to Hernandez that he knows he doesn’t have a lot of rope here, with both Arrieta and Tillman lurking in Norfolk.

Here are Tillman and Arrieta’s Triple-A numbers:
CHRIS TILLMAN 3-4 3.83 in 8 GS, 36 K, 9 BB
JAKE ARRIETA 3-2, 2.20 ERA in 8 GS, 39 K, 28 BBs

Reimold's future plans?

With Rhyne Hughesdemotion back to Triple-A Norfolk, Orioles manager Dave Trembley confirmed that the Garrett Atkins will be the team’s first baseman for the next few days. But how much longer beyond that?

“I’ll sleep on it,” Trembley said following Atkins’ 0-for-4 showing in Sunday’s loss. “And we’ll see where we’re at.”

Things could get interesting given that Nolan Reimold started at first base for Norfolk on Sunday afternoon. Reimold has struggled offensively this season — prompting the demotion — but if he can get back on track he could get a shot at first base.

At one point last year that appeared to be the Orioles plan, but Reimold spent this spring solely in the outfield. He did take ground balls at first base in the final days of camp, but reporters were told to not read too much into it.

Given the spark Corey Patterson has given the O’s in left field, putting Reimold at first base isn’t such a crazy idea. Especially when you factor in the under-performing Atkins, who entered Sunday hitting .253 and is homer-less this year. Atkins struck out swinging, grounded into a double play and had two other ground outs against Indians starter Jake Westbrook to drop his average to .243. 

Reimold went hitless in his first two games with the Tides, but connected for a two-run homer for in his third at-bat on Sunday.

O's/Tribe finale and pregame tidbits galore

Lots of notes today in the Orioles series finale, starting with David Hernandez, who was scratched with a right shoulder injury and is being replaced with Mark Hendrickson.
*Hernandez said there are no plans for an MRI and classified himself as “day to day”. Manager Dave Trembley said the team is confident he will make his next scheduled turn on Friday, but acknowledged that how Hernandez comes out of his next side session will be a big factor in that decision.
*Brian Roberts took ground balls and hit off a tee prior to Sunday’s game and if all goes as expected, he will head to extended Spring Training on Tuesday.
*Mike Gonzalez came out of yesterday’s side session on the mound with no reported problems and is scheduled to throw one inning of live batting practice at the team’s facility in Sarasota, Fla. He will also throw an inning on Thursday with no scheduled plans beyond that.
*With last night’s decision to option Rhyne Hughes back to Triple-A Norfolk, Garrett Atkins will be the team’s everyday first baseman for the forseeable future.
*The move to recall Alberto Castillo in Hughes’ spot is one that replaces a lefty with a lefty. Given that Hendrickson is starting the O’s pen would be shorthanded, so Castillo gives the club some depth.
*Following his first blown save of the season in Saturday’s loss, Alfredo Simon will remain the team’s closer. But you would think his leash is far shorter now. “I can’t say I’m going to use him the next 10 times out [in a closing situation],” Trembley said.
*Finally, I asked Cesar Izturis if he ran on his own in the fifth inning of last night. He said he always has a green light but didn’t get a sign to steal. He was gunned out by Lou Marson in a play that later cost the O’s a run.
 
ORIOLES LINEUP:

Corey Patterson LF
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Ty Wigginton 2B
Luke Scott DH
Garrett Atkins 1B
Craig Tatum C
Julio Lugo SS
Mark Hendrickson LHP

INDIANS LINEUP
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Grady Sizemore CF
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Austin Kearns LF
Russell Branyan 1B
Jhonny Peralta 3B
Mark Grudzielanek 2B
 Matt LaPorta DH
Marson C
Jake Westbrook RHP 

Hernandez injured/Hendrickson to start

BALTIMORE–Orioles starter David Hernandez has been scratched from Sunday’s series finale with discomfort in his right shoulder.

Hernandez said he has been dealing with the issue for the last two weeks, bringing it to the team’s attention following his last start against Seattle because for the first time he felt a pinch in shoulder while on the hill. Hernandez will be replaced on Sunday with long reliever Mark Hendrickson and said there is no plan right now to undergo an MRI or do anything besides rest.

The 25-year-old Hernandez has lost his last 11 decisions, which is the longest active streak in the Major Leagues and the second-longest streak in O’s history, behind Mike Boddicker’s 13 in the late 1980s. The 25-year-old has a 9.64 ERA in his last two starts.

Should Simon have been yanked? And what arm is on the way?

De facto closer Alfredo Simon was charged with his first blown save of the season in Saturday’s 8-2 loss, spurring a ton of booing from the Camden Yards crowd and calling into question whether manager Dave Trembley should have yanked Simon earlier.

Simon came on for the ninth and allowed his first runs of the season, surrendering a three-run homer to Austin Kearns as part of a four-run frame.  The Indians first run came via a one-out RBI single from Shin-Soo Choo, who scored Asdrubal Cabrera. Simon recorded the first out of the inning before Cabrera singled and Mark Grudzielanek walked.  Following Kearns’ homer, Simon was replaced by sidearmer Cla Meredith who yielded four runs.

Trembley was questioned by the media about Simon’s pitch selection (a splitter that hung) and his decision to leave in Simon. Here’s his response…

(on the splitter to Kearns being the smartest option)

“Publicly I would never say yes or no. I don’t think that’s the way to go, to come out publicly and give an answer one way or the other. I don’t think that’s the way to do it. That’s why I have a pitching coach and I’m the manager and we’ll talk to Simon about that.”

(on leaving in Simon after he gave up a one-out single and walk)

“For me right there, he’s the best guy for that situation, facing Kearns. He got himself in trouble, you get yourself out of it. I think you go power against power. It’s worked. He made a bad pitch.”

***With the Orioles decision to option back Rhyne Hughes to Norfolk, if the team makes a move within the organization you would think it would be to call up an arm. There’s no one hitting in the Minors to justify a trip to the big leagues, making Alberto Castillo or Kam Mickolio both options.

Hughes to Norfolk, now what?

BALTIMORE– Following Saturday’s 8-2 loss, the Orioles optioned rookie Rhyne Hughes back to Triple-A Norfolk.

Hughes did not play in Saturday’s game but had been marred in a a 3-for-24 skid with 12 strikeouts in his last eight games. Following April 24’s recall from Norfolk, Hughes got off to a blistering start, going 5-for-13 and setting a new Orioles rookie record with an RBI in each of his first three games. He became just the second player in franchise history to begin his Major League career with a pair of multi-hit games and an RBI, but wasn’t able to maintain anything close to that initial success.

“Of course it’s disappointing you never want to get sent down or anything like that,” Hughes said. “But it’s OK; just going to go down there [to Norfolk] and try to do what I was doing before just to be ready whenever they need me again.”

Prior to Saturday’s game, Orioles manager Dave Trembley noted that Hughes’ mechanics were “drifting” and said he was swinging underneath the ball and choosing bad pitches. Hughes –who took early extra batting practice Saturday afternoon — will try to regain his swing when he joins the Tides on Tuesday.

At the time of his promotion, Hughes was ranked among the International League top 10 in slugging percentage, batting average and on-base percentage and admitted on Saturday night that he had started to get away from what was working at the plate.

“I just had a rough spot, that’s all,” Hughes said. “You know, some things I wasn’t doing the way I was doing before. Just need to get back to doing it.”

The Orioles won’t announce a corresponding roster move until Sunday, and could add a reliever instead of another position player to fill Hughes’ spot. They could also make a waiver wire pick-up given that both Pat Burrell and Ryan Garko were on waivers on Saturday.

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