March 2011

Drese’s day

Ryan Drese just finished talking with the media following a three-inning outing in which he allowed two runs on five hits with a pair of strikeouts.  The five hits were all solid contact, including a leadoff homer from Ben Zobrist.

Drese was a longshot coming into camp and he has struggled in his most recent appearances, pitching to a total 8.59 ERA this spring. Still,  Drese –who has undergone two Tommy John surgeries — is not giving up hope just yet.  Here’s what he had to say this afternoon…

[On his outing]

“Leading off the game, I throw a pitch to Zobrist down and away and he hits an opposite-field homer. You’ve got to tip your hat there. It was a good piece of hitting. Other than that, I thought I threw some good pitches. The only really bad pitch I thought I threw was to B.J. Upton with two strikes. I left the ball up and over the plate and he hit it for the longest single ever. But other than that, I felt good.”

“They said two or three [innings]. I had no idea. I went three, I felt really good and I was ready to keep pitching if they wanted me to, but that’s what the plan was ahead of time.”

[on making the team]: “I’m sure hoping my name is called, whether it’s starting or relieving. Nobody’s heard anything yet. It’s going to come down to the last few days. It may even come down to the intrasquad game we play. Still hoping, and hopefully get one more shot out there. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”

[on if he will accept an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk if he doesn't break camp]
“I have a verbal out that I agreed to before I signed. I’m not even thinking about that right now. I feel really good and that’s the important thing for me, being out for a while. Just coming back and getting consistent work.”

[on the mound meeting with head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and pitching coach Mark Connor]

“I don’t know what happened. My thumb slipped off the ball somehow and I felt a little tingling in my hand. I was trying to stretch it out and it just went away. Then I threw a ball down in the dirt. I think that led them to see if it was bothering me, but I told them it was fine. It went away after that first pitch.”

Orioles/Rays lineups and pregame tidbits

*Jake Arietta is officially the home opener starter on April 4.

*Justin Duchscherer will pitch in extended spring on April 6. Assuming all goes well, the team is still optimistic that he will be ready April 21.

*Brad Bergesen will take off today and hopes to resume playing catch on Sunday. Manager Buck Showalter said the Orioles will try to have him pitch again on three days rest, which would be Tuesday, the O’s final spring game.

*Asked if Chris Tillman’s start tomorrow is a big one in terms of proving himself and trying to make the rotation, Showalter said he didn’t want to put that pressure on Tillman, at least not “publicly.”

*Craig Tatum has been slowed by back spasms. Tatum is trying to make the club as the backup catcher but hasn’t had a great spring so far.  Showalter said Tatum will be available to play Sunday.

*Kevin Gregg and Koji Uehara are expected to follow Tillman in Sunday’s game. Uehara threw yesterday at Twin Lakes Park, throwing a scoreless inning plus an extra hitter, and Showalter said the team is still evaluating him in terms of readyiness on the Opening Day roster.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Derrek Lee 1B
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Luke Scott LF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Matt Wieters C
Felix Pie CF
J.J. Hardy SS

Ryan Drese RHP

RAYS LINEUP
Ben Zobrist 2b
Johnny Damon lf
Evan Longoria 3b
Manny Ramirez dh
Dan Johnson 1b
B.J. Upton cf
Matt Joyce rf
Kelly Shoppach c
Sean Rodriguez ss
Jeremy Hellickson p

Bergesen update

Brad Bergesen said his right forearm is a little stiff today, after being struck in the first inning of yesterday’s game. He will ice on Saturday and hopes to resume playing catch on Sunday.  The initial X-ray was negative.

Bergesen exits

By Rhett Bollinger/MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. – – Orioles right-hander Brad Bergesen was hit in his
right arm by a line drive from Denard Span in the first inning and had
to be lifted from Friday’s game after making just four pitches.

Span, the Twins leadoff hitter, smashed a line drive off Bergesen’s pitching arm that actually resulted in an out, as it went off Bergesen’s arm and was caught by second baseman Robert Andino.

Bergesen was then looked at by the team’s trainers and manager Buck Showalter, and the decision was made to take him out of the game.

The Orioles have yet to announce the extent of the injury but it could be a major blow to Bergesen’s chances to make the starting rotation. Bergesen, 25, has struggled in Grapefruit League play with a 5.82 ERA over 17 innings. He’s also struck out seven and walked six.

Orioles/Twins lineups and pregame tidbits

*Last night’s first homer was more important mentally for Mark Reynolds, who said his swing and mechanics feel good right now. Reynolds had a talk with hitting coach Jim Presley yesterday that helped things.

“[It was] about you know, putting aggressive swings on the ball rather than just trying to put the ball in play,” Reynolds said. “Last night, it all came together a little bit.”

“My mechanics are there, it’s just kind of from my shoulders up, struggling a little bit,” Reynolds added. “It’s tough when you are not getting results, you try to change but the results aren’t there. you just got to keep working and plugging away.”

*Koji Uehara, Rick VandenHurk and Michael Gonzalez will throw in a Minor League game at Twin Lakes Park today.

*Brian Roberts said his back has been holding up fine and he hasn’t talked to manager Buck Showalter about taking it easy to start the season. Roberts is confident he will be ready come April 1 against Tampa Bay and didn’t see the artificial turf being a problem or anything that would prevent him from playing. He put emphasis this morning on the fact that his most recent setback was more his neck than his back.

*It’s an important start today for Brad Bergesen, who could go a long way in locking up a rotation spot with a solid outing against the Twins. Bergesen is believed to have the edge over Chris Tillman at this point,but they will each get one at least more outing against Major Leaguers. Tillman will pitch in Sunday’s home game against the Red Sox.  

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Robert Andino 2B
Felix Pie LF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters DH
Jake Fox C
Nolan Reimold RF
Brendan Harris 1B
Nick Green 3B
Cesar Izturis SS
Brad Bergesen RHP

Clay Rapada and Jim Johnson are also scheduled to pitch.

TWINS LINEUP
Denard Span CF
Tsuyoshi Nishioka 2B
Joe Mauer C
Justin Morneau 1B
Delmon Young LF
Jason Kubel DH
Michael Cuddyer RF
Danny Valencia 3B
Matt Tolbert SS

Scott Baker RHP

Uneven outing from Arrieta

Orioles starter Jake Arrieta, who is tentatively scheduled to pitch April 4’s home opener, got off to a rocky start with Pittsburgh’s Lyle Overbay and Neil Walker launching a pair of solo homers in the first inning.

Arrieta settled down after that –at one point retiring 14 of 15 Pirates — before becoming unglued in the top of sixth. He exited after allowing another homer to Walker and a pair of walks, falling short of the desire six-inning goal. It was Arrieta’s longest outings and one of the longest ones by the team’s starters this spring.

“I made a lot of strides,” Arrieta said. “From the second to the fifth inning, I feel like I was throwing like I was in midseason form. That’s a good sign. I just have to iron out some kinks in the first inning, I have to attack better and stay down with the ball. When the wind is blowing out like it was early in the game, you have to be down and I wasn’t down in the first, but I settled in after that.

Arrieta’s final line was 5 1/3 innings of four-run baseball on five hits (three homers) and three walks. He also struck out four. The 25-year-old Arrieta threw 54 of 91 pitches for strikes and admitted that he “got sloppy” at times, chastiting himself for not fielding Andrew McCutchen’s leadoff single to start the game.

“The sixth inning, I talked to [pitching coach Mark Connor] and he said I was getting a little sloppy on my delivery, falling off to the first base side which was causing me to cut off my pitches,” Arrieta said. “That’s just one of those things I have to self correct and try to get back on track when I feel something like that.”

Arrieta expects to get one more spring start. 

Os will go 4 starters, Rosario back to Brewers

*The Orioles named Jeremy Guthrie their Opening Day starter and manager Buck Showalter confirmed that the team will go with four starters when camps break. Jake Arrieta will start the home opener and Brian Matusz will pitch the second game against Tampa Bay, behind Guthrie. The last spot is really between Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen although the increasing school of thought is it will be Bergesen, particularly because he projects better out of the bullpen and the O’s will have to do some shuffling on April 21 because..

*April 21 is the date that Justin Duchscherer –who will start the season on the DL– projects to be back. It’s also the first day the team can recall top pitching prospect Zach Britton and keep him under team control for that extra year, until 2017.

*The O’s cut list includes Rule 5 Draft pick Adrian Rosario, who cleared waivers and will be returned to the Brewers. The Orioles will get back Pat Egan, who is expected in big league camp in the next day or so. 

*The rest of the cuts are Chris Jakubauskas, Mike Ballard, Alberto Castillo,  Chris George, Michel Hernandez and Josh Bell. The O’s will also sent out one or two more position players shortly.

Britton survives cuts, Orioles/Pirates lineups

*As I tweeted earlier, Orioles top pitching prospect Zach Britton will not be part of today’s cuts. Britton is not expected to make the team, but he will get another start. The most prominent name is Josh Bell, who was told he will get regular playing time as Triple-A Norfolk’s third base. Bell saw the writing on the wall when the O’s traded for Mark Reynolds this winter.

Rule 5 Draft pick Adrian Rosario was also cut today and he will be placed on waivers where any team can claim him so long as they add him to the Major League roster. Pitchers who weren’t officially in camp, such as Alberto Castillo and Chris Jakubauskas, are also expected to be sent to Minors camp. 

*The Orioles continue to get some positive injury news, with Derrek Lee and Brian Roberts both in today’s lineup. Justin Duchscherer said yesterday’s bullpen session –his first in about two weeks- went really well and it was the first time in a while he was able to really let it go and land on his landing foot. Duchscherer is still targeting April 10, which is the first time the team needs a fifth starter, as his goal to return.

*Been asked a bunch about Robert Andino’s chances to make the team. They have increased given that Andino would be almost certainly lost on waivers. At least three teams have reached out to the Orioles concerning Andino, although a trade at this point seems unlikely. It’s also unlikely that the team will release Nick Green or any of their middle infielders –such as Brendan Harris – this spring. If they don’t make the team, they’re going to Triple-A Norfolk. 

 
ORIOLES LINEUP
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Derrek Lee 1B
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Luke Scott LF
Felix Pie CF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Matt Wieters C
J.J.Hardy SS

Jake Arrieta RHP

Orioles/Twins lineups and pregame tidbits

*Derrek Lee is feeling good and he’s in tonight’s lineup against the Twins at Fort Myers. Brian Roberts is also scheduled, although manager Buck Showalter said yesterday he would get the day off. Take that as a good sign.

*The Orioles coaching staff might this afternoon for a while to discuss the next round of cuts and Opening Day roster. We’re told there will not be any announcement in that regard today.

*Had a nice talk with Kevin Gregg about his outing yesterday at Twin Lakes Park. He said he felt like he got back to his old mechanics, after tinkering with a lean forward in some of his earlier outings.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Brian Roberts, 2B
Adam Jones, CF
Derrek Lee, 1B
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Jake Fox, LF
Mark Reynolds, 3B
Nolan Reimold, RF
Craig Tatum, C
Cesar Izturis, SS
Brian Matusz, SP

Britton continues strong spring bid

Top pitching prospect Zach Britton allowed his first earned run this spring, snapping an official 11-inning scoreless streak, when he allowed a third-inning run against the Yankees on Tuesday. That was the only run allowed by the 23-year-old Britton, who continues to make it a difficult decision for the Orioles to send him to Triple-A.

“Obviously I think there’s stuff I can improve on. but me personally I think that’s stuff I can do not just in Triple-A but in the big leagues,”said Britton, who has allowed one run, 14 hits, and four walks in 14 spring innings, striking out nine.

“The stuff I need to work on isn’t hindering from pitching in the big leagues, it’s just about getting experience,” Britton added.  “I feel like I did what I needed to do coming into camp, hopefully I’ll get another start or two and we’ll see what happens.”

As I blogged earlier, it would take at least two injuries for Britton to start the season in Baltimore, since the team would have him under their control for an extra year if he doesn’t come up until the end of April.

“I feel like if I’m one of the best five, hopefully I’ll go [to Baltimore],” said Britton. “I’m not really trying to pay too much attention to [the service time thing]. If I get cut, obviously that will be something that crosses my mind, but right now I’m trying to be one of the best five.”

On Tuesday, Britton scattered six hits and a walk and struck out five in his fourth official spring outing.  (He also threw five innings in a Minor League game last week.) The most impressive part of the 90-pitch start was the top of the fifth inning when Britton hit Melky Mesa and gave up a double to Nick Swisher to put runners on second and third with one out. He proceeded to send Mark Teixiera down on strikes and get Andruw Jones to ground out.

“That was big,”Britton said of getting out of the fifth. “Especially, I’m sure [manager Buck Showalter] wanted to get me up going again too so being able to get out of it make some pitches, to get out of it was pretty big.”

Of the 90 pitches Britton threw, 52 were strikes. He exited after issuing a leadoff walk to Jesus Montero in the sixth and got a nice round of applause from the crowd of 8,347 on hand at Ed Smith Stadium.

*Here’s Chris Tillman’s line from Twins Lakes Park, where he faced the Red Sox High-A team: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 4 Ks. He recorded 22 outs total with some extended innings.

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