February 2011

Lee takes BP

The O’s received another boost of positive injury news Monday when Derrek Lee took live batting practice, marking the first time he’s taken successive BP this spring.

“It was really encouraging,” Showalter said of Lee. “He came in today with no soreness, no puffiness [in his right thumb] from yesterday, took a real good bp.”

Showalter said the team will wait to see how Lee feels on Tuesday before deeming him ready to take BP every day. Brian Roberts also worked out at the practice fields at Ed Smith Stadium with no reported problems.

Duchscherer upbeat, no tests scheduled

Orioles starter Justin Duchscherer threw off flat ground and
the half mound at the team’s complex in Sarasota, Fla. on Monday with positive
results, suspending any need for tests on his left hip.   

“He’s pretty upbeat about how he feels compared to two days
ago,” manager Buck Showalter said of Duchscherer, who was scratched from this
Wednesday’s scheduled start after experiencing some discomfort on Saturday.  “I know [head athletic trainer Richie
Bancells] feels the same way. [It will] be interesting to see how he feels tomorrow.”

Showalter did not arrive on the team bus for Monday’s game,
staying behind partly to watch Duchscherer, who is coming off his fourth
surgery in two seasons.  Although the
33-year-old is injury-prone, the Orioles decided he was worth the risk -signing
Duchscherer to a low-risk, high incentive deal this winter. The thought is if
he’s healthy and productive he will be in the team’s Opening Day rotation.

Monday’s progress -enough to convince the organization that
no tests are needed on Duchscherer’s hip right now- was a step in the right
direction.

“I don’t want to say he turned it loose today but he was
pretty firm with his actions and mechanics and everything,” Showalter said of
Duchscherer.  “He was throwing off the
half mound with some pop.”

The plan now is for Duchscherer to take Tuesday off and
throw again on either Wednesday or Thursday, although Showalter was unsure if
it would be the same workout as Monday.

“We could conceivably take him up another step higher on the
mound,” Showalter said, “but we will see. “

 

Bergesen on his outing

Orioles starter Brad Bergesen talked briefly with the media about his first spring outing this afternoon…

[on how he felt]
“I felt good today for the first outing. There’s definitely things I need to tune up a little bit. Fastball felt OK. I need to start working down. Changeup actually felt good today, and I threw a few good sliders in there. Overall, for first outing, it was a good one to  get my feet wet today.”

[on his anxiousness to get going]
 “It felt good. I don’t want to say Opening Day, but first time back on the mound you’ve got those little extra butterflies going. There’s a little bit of an extra adrenaline rush going, so I’ve just got to hone in on it and fine-tune these things the rest of spring.”
 
(compared to last year): “My goodness, It’s night and day. It’s just completely opposite to the spectrum of what I feel like right now. Last year, I was just rushing myself, just trying to get my arm in enough shape to be able to pitch off a mound, so it didn’t really give me that much time to work on my mechanics or get to where I needed to be. This year, it’s a whole other story, and hopefully I can have that time like I’ve had so far and get ready for the season the way I want to.”
 
[feel like you have something to prove]
“Every year I come in, I’ve always got something to prove. I think that’s what always keeps me going and always makes you better. In this game, you never want to settle or feel comfortable, so for me, especially with a new staff, I want to come in here and do what I’m capable of doing, and also prove a point here.”
 
[ on what home plate ump Wally Bell said to him] “He actually was just talking to me about a balk issue. I didn’t balk, but he was just saying that it was kind of borderline and it’s just something the umpires are looking out for a little bit this year. Very minor, but he was saying something about how I need to be a little more deliberate when I step off the rubber.”

Orioles/Pirates lineups

The Orioles lineup for today’s game is as follows:

ORIOLES
J.J. Hardy SS
Felix Pie RF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Adam Jones CF
Nolan Reimold LF
Brandon Snyder 1B
Craig Tatum C
Cesar Izturis 2B

Brad Bergesen SP

*Also expected to pitch: Ryan Drese, Kevin Gregg, Koji Uehara, Jeremy Accardo and Clay Rapada.


PIRATES

Jose Tabata LF
Josh Rodriguez SS
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Garrett Jones RF
Ryan Doumit DH
Chase d’Arnaud 2B
Jason Jaramillio C

SP Paul Maholm

This weekend

I generally like to leave my personal life off this blog, because I know you only come here for Orioles coverage. But since my personal life effects Orioles coverage this weekend, I’ll make an exception.

I’m running the Gasparilla Half Marathon on Sunday morning and will be off the O’s beat until Monday. What does this mean for you? Besides a slower Twitter feed, not much. All your news will still be on Orioles.com, including coverage of Sunday’s intrasquad game.

I’ll be back Monday morning, as Brad Bergesen takes the hill in the O’s Grapefruit League opener against the Pirates split-squad in Bradenton. That game’s set to start at 1:05 p.m. ET. 

A few early morning notes

*Derrek Lee will try to take batting practice today for the first time. Lee has been slowed by offseason thumb surgery but has been taking part in pretty much everything else.

“He has not shied away from any of the drills,” said infield coach Willie Randolph of Lee. “He could have easily said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to throw because of my thumb.’ But no, he’s out there, he’s doing all the drills. And that’s leadership.

That’s showing everybody, ‘Hey, I’m here to work. I may be a little bit slow in some of the things I’m doing, but I still want to be a part of it. He understands the concept of getting this infield together early and often and feeling each other as a unit.”

*The Orioles are also optimistic Brian Roberts will be able to rejoin the infield today. Roberts has been sidelined by some neck stiffness but was hopeful that he’d workout Friday or Saturday.

*Finally, I wanted to pass along an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal recently that said the Orioles “won” the offseason. The link is here.
 

*

More on Gregg

You might have noticed I have a feature story up on Orioles.com on new reliever Kevin Gregg, who will be competing with Koji Uehara for the closer role. You can read the full story here, but I thought I’d pass along some of the extra stuff that didn’t make it in….

[about electing to stay in the AL East]
“There’s a lot of good teams over here, but it’s all the same. I got to do my job. They can hurt you in the AL West or the NL Central, you can get hurt over there, too. [I] just continue to do my thing, make my pitches. It didn’t concern me what division I was in. I didn’t really weigh the fact, I really didn’t pick one team over the other because of the division they were in. That was a non-factor.

I mean really I think if I make my pitches I get everybody out. That’s kind of the way I approach it, and what division I’m in I really don’t care.”

[On the game at Camden Yards last season when Gregg walked three guys and had some choice words for Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston when he came to take him out of the game]
“I take my job seriously. That was a situation where I didn’t agree with his decision, it’s his team he can make his decisions but my job was to get the last three outs of the game. And there’s times where you are not going to be on and it’s not going to be a 1,2,3 inning, you are not [always] going to cruise right though, you might get into trouble.”

[on his control issues]
“It’s an interesting thing because people say control is my biggest downfall, but control is also my biggest strength. You will see as the year goes on, when I miss I don’t miss by much. I never give in, that’s my theory.

I’m never going to give him and just throw balls down the middle, I’m going to sit there and go corner to corner until I win. That’s just the bottom line. Do I walk more guys? Yeah. But it’s not because I’m scattering balls to the backstop. Ill be right around the corners consistently.
 
[on his time in the As system, where he was passed over]
 
“I had to stick it out. I asked for my release for them, they wouldn’t give it  to me. They said ‘We are not going to release you, but to us you are not a big league pitcher.’ So I said forget it, I’m going to try another organization and see what happens. When I was [with Anaheim] I was in the big leagues within a year.”

[on his sport glasses]
“With contacts, there’s a lot of variables that can go wrong with the dirt or the wind. [With] glasses you don’t have that.

In the Minor leagues I couldn’t afford to go get glasses and do all that stuff, so I didn’t. As you get older your vision gets worse. It was getting to the point, where I couldn’t see [the catcher's] signs, I used to guess. Then it was like, ‘Ok, forget about this,  I’ll just get glasses.’ It works.”

[on having to earn the closer's role]
“For me it’s really the same thing I’ve gone through for a while now. So the biggest thing is to go out there and show what I can do. My experience, my past dictates. They know what I can do. [I'm] just going to go out and continue doing that. [Manager Buck Showalter] can make the decision of what he wants to do.”

More spring odds and ends..

*Non roster invitee Josh Rupe was sent home today with a stomach bug. He wasn’t scheduled to throw anyway.

Derrek Lee expects to take batting practice before the week ends and Mitch Atkins is still sideline with an oblique issue. Lee talked about being game ready in today’s featured video, which you can watch here

*Frank Robinson’s message to the team this morning was about utilizing the practice time in Spring Training and manager Buck Showalter said it went over well.

“He obviously can command a room,” Showalter said of the Hall of Famer. “He’s been in front of players for quite a while. You can tell he has a real affinity for the Orioles.”

*Showalter praised the way Chris Tillman threw today. Tillman was among a group that included Michael Gonzalez, Jim Johnson and Justin Duchscherer that threw to hitters on Thursday.

*Brian Roberts is about 50 percent improved and is aiming to play by Friday or Saturday. He’s been dealing with neck stiffness. Showalter said Roberts wouldn’t have played in the first spring games even if he didn’t have this issue.
 
*According to ESPN’s Keith Law, Orioles top prospect Manny Machado has hired Dan Lozano to be his agent. Machado, the O’s top pick in last year’s Draft, was previously represented by Scott Boras.

Roberts out again

SARASOTA, Fla. -Brian Roberts will not participate in Thursday’s workout for the second consecutive day, as the Orioles second baseman continues to be sidelined by neck stiffness.

Roberts maintained Thursday morning that he is not overly concerned about his neck, and an X-ray on Wednesday came back negative.  He is aiming to return to spring workouts Friday or Saturday.

The neck issued stemmed from how Roberts slept on Tuesday night, and he sat out of baseball activities Wednesday morning in what was described as a precautionary measure unrelated to his back.

“We’ve probably all had a stiff neck at some point in our life right?” Roberts said Wednesday. “I’m not overly concerned.”

“[It was a] muscle spasm. Nothing other than that,” manager Buck Showalter said of Roberts. “They didn’t see any disk issues or anything.”

Roberts has been dismissive about the concern that any injury could be an ominous sign of his back flaring up. Roberts played in only 59 games last season after suffering a herniated disk in his lower back during last winter’s workouts in Arizona.

“I understand there’s about a two-feet difference from where my back hurt and where my neck hurt,” Roberts said. “So I’m pretty sure they are not related.

“We tried to get it calmed down at least, so whenever it does feel fine, I’ll go out there. It’s the third day of Spring Training.”

Still, any injury to Roberts, regardless of the severity, is cause for immediate concern for the Orioles. The team’s offense struggled mightily without its leadoff hitter, and Roberts worked out hard this offseason to report to camp healthy.

The Orioles also re-signed Cesar Izturis as utility player for insurance, and inked Minor League deals with Nick Green and Brendan Harris to give them options in the event that Roberts can’t stay healthy. Robert Andino, who is competing for a bench spot, can also play second base.

A few spring notes

Some quick hits this morning from camp…

*Oriole great Frank Robinson was here this morning and spoke to the team. As soon as Robinson walked in there was a little buzz in the clubhouse about the the Hall of Famer, whose jersey is hanging up in the O’s clubhouse.

*Brian Roberts is expected to miss another workout today and is aiming to return Friday or Saturday. He said it’s not a setback but is still dealing with neck stiffness. The full story on that is up here.

*Early reports on Vladimir Guerrero around the clubhouse have been positive, with several players noting that the veteran –although soft-spoken — is easy to approach.

*With the addition of Vlad moving Luke Scott to left field, Nolan Reimold projects to start the year in Triple-A. It also makes it that much tougher for a guy like Matt Angle, who was one of the earliest position players to arrive to camp.

“I just got to do what I’m capable of doing,” said Angle, who was added to the 40-man roster this winter. “They obviously think highly of my skill set in some way, Vlad and those guys, those guys are great players. There’s things that are out of my control. All I can do is try to play my game and know that if I get an opportunity hopefully I’m ready.”

Angle was Triple-A Norfolk’s center fielder last season but he also played the corner outfield spots some in college and said he’s comfortable at all three positions. Given the O’s crowded outfield situation –which also includes non-roster invitee Randy Winn — Angle’s versatility certainly helps his case.

Angle said he’s talked to manager Buck Showalter a few times this spring, and while he’s obviously trying to make a good impression he’s also using camp to try to refine a few things, such as bunting and defensive positioning.

 “You have to make sure you are doing everything under control and within yourself,” Angle said.  “Sometimes if you try to do too much you kind of go outside your game and you might not be playing as well as you’d like.”

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