May 2011

Orioles/Mariners lineups and pregame tidbits

*Derrek Lee will take live batting practice in extended spring on Wednesday and he could be sent out shortly after that to one of the team’s affiliates, probably Double-A Bowie. How many at-bats or games he needs is yet to be determined, but you could see him back as early as next week.

*The O’s are faced with a tough lefty in Erik Bedard, but manager Buck Showalter went with Luke Scott over Jake Fox. Asked if it’s tough to find opportunities for Fox, Showalter said no.

“If a guy is playing well and hitting well it’s not that hard to find opportunities,” he said. “Jake hasn’t made the use of the opportunities he’s had, with some exceptions, we saw in Spring Training in that environment what he’s capable of. So we will see.”

It’s getting harder to imagine a role for Fox on this team, particularly when Lee returns. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and it’s situation Fox is well aware of.

*Jake Arrieta came through workouts fine today after being struck with an Ichiro Suzuki liner in the third inning of yesterday’s game. He is on track to make his next start as scheduled.

*Brian Matusz will be activated from the disabled list for Wednesday’s start, and the Orioles are expected to make a corresponding roster move after tonight’s game. The easiest move would be to option Pedro Viola back to Double-A Bowie. Chris Jakubauskas is another candidate,but he can give the team length and it’s not a given that Matusz will be able to go deep in his first start. There’s a chance the Orioles option a position player as well, although it’s less likely.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Robert Andino 2B
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 3B
Luke Scott 1B
Nolan Reimold LF
J.J. Hardy SS

Jeremy Guthrie RHP

MARINERS LINEUP
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brendan Ryan SS
Justin Smoak 1B
Jack Cust DH
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Adam Kennedy 2B
Miguel Olivo C
Luis Rodriguez 3B
Carlos Peguero LF

Erik Bedard LHP

Fox: my role is unclear

Jake Fox had a long talk with manager Buck Showalter during this weekend’s series in Oakland, a conversation he hoped would bring more clarity as to where he fits on the Orioles 25-man roster, if at all.

“I think my role is still very unclear,” Fox said, when asked what prompted him to seek out Showalter, who he praised as a straight-shooter. “They are not seeing me perform the way they want me to and I think that has kept him from putting me in the lineup more. Obviously with the number of at-bats I’ve had it is going to take me a few games to get back in a rhythm. We had this conversation, and [I said] I feel like I’m still the same guy I was this spring. Nothing has changed. I’m still putting the ball in play, my timing isn’t quite there, my pitch recognition isn’t quite there.”

[Showalter] did tell me that once [Craig] Tatum got called up it was going to free up some opportunities for me. And from my perspective I’m still staying patient, waiting for those opportunities. He’s putting the best team out there that he thinks can win ball games.

And he feels that I’m not that guy that’s going to win games. So, obviously I got to show him that I can improve that I can make adjustments and I can help them win.”

Fox made the team out of Spring Training as a backup catcher, but the addition of Tatum last week has him in more of a bench role. He enters Tuesday hitting .188 in 19 games, including 12 starts and has struggled offensively and to get consistent playing time because of those struggles.

Even with first baseman Derrek Lee on the disabled list, the Orioles have used several different combination, including Luke Scott and Mark Reynolds. Fox started at first base on Thursday and Friday and went 1-for-5 with a walk, a strikeout and two double play balls.

“Obviously [the talk with Showalter] wasn’t what I wanted to hear, because it’s no secret that I haven’t gotten the innings I wanted to, I haven’t gotten the at-bats I’ve wanted to get,” Fox said. “But I knew going into the season I wasn’t going to be an everyday player. We had too many other guys who have earned the right to be everyday players.

But when you have some injuries, you hope you will be in there more and get a chance. But obviously [Showalter] went in a different direction and he’s trying to piece together a team to win until those guys get back.”

With Lee’s activation coming as early as the end of the week, Fox knows he could be the odd man out on the Orioles roster. He is out of options, meaning the organization could try to work out a trade with another club before potentially losing him on waivers. That’s how the Orioles acquired Fox from Oakland last season. It’s a situation Fox is aware of, but not one he’s focusing on, as he prefers to use his energy trying to get back on track at the plate.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of moves made,” said Fox, who is with his third organization. “When Tatum came up I was like, ‘Ok, they got a backup catcher now what are they going to do with me?’ So, those questions always go through your mind.

But if you get wrapped up in that it prevents you from going out and doing your job. And it’s no secret, I’ve talked to Buck about it, someday I’d like to be an everyday player, I feel like I could be an everyday player, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten that opportunity yet.

Obviously when D. Lee comes back there is going to be some kind of move made, if it’s me it’s me. If it’s not, than I’m going to do what I’ve been doing. Keep working hard and trying to improve at the job they’ve given me.”

Fox has long attested that he would like to be an every day player and said prior to Monday’s game that he still thinks he can be.

“I feel like I’m average defensively at five positions and have never gotten the chance to just play one position and be really great at it,” Fox said. “I can make the routine plays, and once in a while even a great play, but I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to just stay in one spot [defensively] and really get better there.”

Arrieta’s outing & injury update

After Sunday’s demotions of Oriole starters Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman, manager Buck Showalter made it clear that some of the outings by the pitching staff were unacceptable and “not good enough”

Jake Arrieta would be the first to tell you his disastrous seven-out outing in Seattle on Monday falls under that category. Arrieta’s career-low 2 1/3-inning start set the tone in a disappointing 4-3 Memorial Day loss to the Mariners.

“I’m pretty upset about this one,” said Arrieta, who turned in his second start of less than five innings in three games. “[I] just couldn’t give the team what I needed to give them. It’s real frustrating to go out there, especially after a sweep, I knew what I wanted to do today. To only get seven outs is pretty frustrating.

To come out of the game with the bases loaded, put [Alfredo] Simon in a tight spot –which he did very well in—just doesn’t feel good. I need to forget about this one as quickly as I can. I know I’m not going to be able to, but I have to find a way to kind of flush it and get over it.”

The 25-year-old Arrieta, who has a team-leading six wins, struggled from the outset, running a three-ball count to three batters to open the game and allowing Seattle a quick pair of runs — courtesy of Brendan Ryan’s groundout and Jack Cust’s triple. After a scoreless second, Arrieta was hit on the left shin by a line drive off the bat of Ichiro Suzuki, and was in noticeable pain as the team’s trainers and manager Buck Showalter came out to the mound. Arrieta remained in the game but things steamrolled from there, and he exited after a pair of bases-loaded walks helped Seattle extend its lead.

While Arrieta admitted he was feeling Ichiro’s liner while on the hill, he didn’t use it as excuse to throw a blanket over his outing.

“I seem to not be able to correct the mistakes I’m making,” said Arrieta, who has issued three walks in five straight starts. “I have to figure it out. [I] just need to start getting back to the consistent pitching that I was towards the first seven or eight starts. I got to get back to that. Two innings isn’t good enough. Four or five innings isn’t good enough. I got to go out there and get the job done.”

“He’ll go through a couple of innings where you know you’re going to be in your bullpen pretty quick,” Showalter said of Arrieta. “They are trying. It’s almost too hard sometimes. Sometimes, it seems that Jake is trying to pitch so much instead of really trusting the fastball and going after it.”

An X-ray on Arrieta’s shin came back negative and he didn’t think his next start would be in jeopardy from the injury.

“I wouldn’t think so,” Arrieta said. “[I will] come in tomorrow and see how it feels, mobility-wise, run around a little bit, get it heated up. I think it’s going to be fine.”

Combined with Arrieta’s line, which included four earned runs on four hits and four walks, Oriole starters have pitched to a 6.50 ERA over the last four-game stretch — allowing 15 runs (13 earned) on 29 hits and 12 walks, and lasting just 18 innings.

Orioles/Mariners series opener

Happy Memorial Day from Safeco Field, which is quick rising to the top of my ballpark list. Just a beautiful park and a great setup. Pictured above are the hats the Orioles are wearing for the holiday.

*As expected Chris Jakubauskas is here and will be available out of the bullpen tonight if needed. He takes the roster spot vacated by Chris Tlillman.

*Adam Jones is not in today’s starting lineup but said his right shoulder feels much better and expects to be in tomorrow’s lineup. Jones was removed prior to the bottom of the fourth inning with shoulder soreness, but it appears to be pretty manageable. Jones said yesterday he doesn’t think it’s a DL situation and he was out on the field working out with the team as usual for pregame batting practice. His shoulder only acts up when he’s throwing.

*Derrek Lee continue to progress in extended spring and did some tee work today in addition to some other baseball activities.

*Orioles Kevin Gregg has walked 18 batters in 20 1/3 innings, including three yesterday, and manager Buck Showalter admitted the totals are a bit of a concern. Gregg will continue to be run out there in the ninth inning and the O’s can only hope that what Gregg told pitching coach Mark Connor — that he’s getting all his walks out of his system early — holds true.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Felix Pie CF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Luke Scott 1B
Nolan Reimold LF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Robert Andino 2B

Jake Arrieta SP

MARINERS LINEUP
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brendan Ryan SS
Justin Smoak 1B
Jack Cust DH
Adam Kennedy 2B
Miguel Olivo C
Carlos Peguero LF
Chone Figgins 3B
Michael Saunders CF

Doug Fister SP

Tillman on his demotion

Orioles starter Chris Tillman admitted he was shocked to be sent down after Sunday’s game, not because he’s pitched well but because Brad Bergesen was already sent down early Sunday morning.

But with Brian Matusz scheduled to be activated from the disabled list to start on Wednesday, the team won’t need a fifth starter until June 7 — which could be filled with a spot start from Alfredo Simon, buying the team until June 18 to reevaluate Tillman and Bergesen.

Here’s what Tillman had to say:

[Surprised?]
“Yeah, it is. I know I have things to work on and they want me to keep doing it down there. Just go out there and have fun and get the anxiety off my back. They said that they I needed some relief when Matusz comes back. They’re not sure what’s going to happen and they want me to just keep doing what I’ve been doing.

[Tough to pitch lately with looming decision?]
I don’t think I’ve felt like that. I just want to work on what I was working on. I put all my focus on that. I wasn’t really buying all the other stuff.

It’s never easy going down, I can tell you that much. I know what I need to work on and I know I need to get better. I want to get going as soon as I can. Hopefully, I can throw a side tomorrow or the next day. I want to pitch as soon as I can. Hopefully on Wednesday.

[on being sent down]
Yeah, it’s a shock, but they got to do what they got to do. I’ve been wearing down the bullpen and they need the bullpen guys with Matusz coming back. It kind of makes sense.

[what he will do in Norfolk]
I haven’t felt right, I haven’t felt like me. I’m going down there and thinking about everything, what I need to do to throw this pitch,w hat I need to do to throw that pitch. I just need to go out there and have fun and do my thing.

Jones update

OAKLAND — Orioles outfielder Adam Jones left Sunday’s game against Oakland prior to the bottom of the fourth inning with a sore right shoulder, but said after the O’s 6-4 loss that he expects to be in Monday’s lineup against Seattle.

“If I feel good in the morning, I don’t see them holding me back,” said Jones, who has been bothered by right shoulder soreness on and off for the past week. The Orioles starting centerfielder said he’s bothered mostly by throwing and it doesn’t affect him at the plate.

“[Sunday] was just one of the most painful days,” Jones said. “It made no sense for me to potentially make it worse. I wanted to play the [rest of the] game, but it was sore and it just became unbearable.”

Manager Buck Showalter said he didn’t like the sound of things and following the top of the fourth inning inserted outfielder Nolan Reimold into the game and shifted Felix Pie over from left field.

“It was just [reaggravated on] a throw and he wasn’t getting any better and I didn’t want to take any chances,” Showalter said. :You know Adam is going to go out there and let it fly.”

Jones went 0-for-2 in his only two at-bats against A’s starter Guillermo Moscoso, flying out to left field in his last plate appearance in the top of the third. He entered Sunday’s game hitting .286 with six homers and a team-leading 29 RBIs, and any serious injury to the Orioles’ starting center fielder would be devastating. Baltimore is already without infielders Brian Roberts and Derrek Lee, and Jones’ bat has been one of the bright spots in a struggling lineup.

Tillman optioned, Jakubauskas recalled

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has long attested that being in the Major Leagues isn’t an open-ended invitation for the team’s young starters, and Sunday’s pair of demotions –in Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman – spoke volumes of the O’s frustration in the lack of progress from either arm.

Seeking better results from their starting staff, the Orioles shook up their rotation and instead will use several upcoming off days to go with a four-man rotation for the foreseeable future. With Brian Matusz scheduled to be activated from the disabled list to start Wednesday the team won’t need a fifth starter until June 7, which could be filled with a spot start from Alfredo Simon, buying the team until June 18 to reevaluate Tillman and Bergesen.

“We need to pitch better,” Showalter said prior to Sunday’s game. “There comes a point where we got to get better there. Some things aren’t good enough. We had a pretty good sampling of things and if we are not pitching and taking the experience and making strides than we need to go back down to [Triple-A] Norfolk and work on it. Sometimes it’s just not good enough.”

Bergesen went 1-6 with a 5.36 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) while Tillman went 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 10 starts. The Orioles promoted lefty Pedro Viola from Double-A Bowie to the bullpen in Bergesen’s place and right-hander Chris Jakubauskas will meet the team in Seattle to take Tillman’s spot.

Jakubauskas is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Norfolk and is fresh off seven innings of one-run baseball on Thursday night. He will serve as one of the team’s long men and while he’s a candidate to make June 7’s start, Simon is thought to be the leading choice.

The news to send Tillman to Norfolk will shuffle the Orioles rotation following Thursday’s off day, with Zach Britton starting Friday’s homestand opener followed by Jake Arrieta and Jeremy Guthrie. Matusz will make his season debut Wednesday in Seattle and follow up Guthrie on Monday. Like Bergesen, Tillman has struggled to find any consistency, frequently putting pressure on the Orioles bullpen by going five innings or fewer in five of his last six starts. The 25-year-old Bergesen posted just two quality stats and the Orioles won just one game he pitched in this year.

“I think one of the mistakes you make is thinking they don’t realize that. They know what’s good and what’s not,” Showalter said of Tillman and Bergesen. “They get it…I don’t have to remind them. Even though I have.”

Jones exits

Orioles outfielder Adam Jones left Sunday’s game against Oakland prior to the bottom of the fourth inning with a sore right shoulder.

Jones went 0-for-2 in his only two at-bats against A’s starter Guillermo Moscoso, flying out to left field in his last plate appearance in the top of the third. He was replaced by outfielder Nolan Reimold in the batting order, and the Orioles shifted Felix Pie from left field to center.

Jones entered Sunday’s game hitting .286 with six homers and a team-leading 29 RBIs and any serious injury to the Orioles starting centerfield would be devastating. Baltimore is already without infielders Brian Roberts and Derrek Lee and Jones’ bat has been one of the bright spots in a struggling lineup.

Orioles/Athletics lineups and pregame tidbits

*The Orioles optioned Brad Bergesen to Triple-A Norfolk following last night’s game and have recalled LHP Pedro Viola in his place. Still, with Brian Matusz scheduled to be activated Wednesday, manager Buck Showalter acknowledged there will be further roster juggling.

“What’s going on with Brad, it’s not good enough,” Showalter said of Bergesen. “And he knows that. And there’s only one pace to get better and that’s down below. There’s potential for some corresponding things [with the roster], we will see how today goes.”

Right now, Chris Tillman is tentatively scheduled to start Friday’s game in Baltimore, although with the team’s off days they don’t need a fifth starter until June 7 and could go with a four-man rotation.

*Justin Duchscherer (left hip strain) will throw a side on Tuesday and go four innings in extended spring on Thursday.

*Derrek Lee (left oblique strain) played light toss today, jogged and took ground balls with no problems. He will continue to progress at extended spring training.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Felix Pie LF
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Luke Scott 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Mark Reynolds 3B
Robert Andino 2B

Zach Britton LHP

ATHLETICS LINEUP:
Coco Crisp CF
Daric Barton 1B
Conor Jackson LF
Josh Willingham DH
Kurt Suzuki C
David DeJesus RF
Mark Ellis 2B
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Cliff Pennington SS

Guillermo Moscoso RHP

Orioles/Athletics lineups and pregame tidbits

*Mark Reynolds is making his first start first base since 2009. He said manager Buck Showalter approach him with the idea first and it’s another way to stack the lineup with right-handed bats.

*Brian Matusz (left intercostal muscle strain) will start Wednesday’s game assuming he makes it through his side session with no problems. Matusz joined the team in Oakland today and was visibly excited to be back and making his long-awaited season debut.

*Derrek Lee (left oblique strain) reported to be pain free today and will start baseball activities on Sunday at extended spring training. That’s good news and a day ahead of schedule.

*Finally, there’s been a bunch of talk about the Orioles making a roster move and whatnot. It all depends on Brad Bergesen’s start tonight whether they add a reliever since a short start would really overextend their bullpen.

There is no move right now that would involve putting anyone on the disabled list, especially a reliever. Frankly, the Orioles need all the innings they can get. I wouldn’t rule out, if there is a postgame move, that it would involve sending out a starter. Given a lot of upcoming off days, the team could get by with four starters for the next few weeks with the exception of June 7. If the team went that route –which Showalter said has been discussed — they could always have a guy like Alfredo Simon make a spot start. That would buy the team until June 18.

*Justin Duchscherer (left hip strain) threw three innings in extended spring training today and Showalter said the reports were positive.

*The Orioles granted right-hander Ryan Drese his release, allowing him to become a free agent. Drese was pitching in Triple-A Norfolk and given the Orioles starting pitching situation with Matusz returning, wouldn’t have been really on the radar. He will now will be able to sign with another team given that his preference is to remain a starter.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Robert Andino 3B
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Nolan Reimold LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Adams 2B
Craig Tatum C

Brad Bergesen RHP

ATHLETICS LINEUP
Coco Crisp CF
Daric Barton 1B
David DeJesus RF
Josh Willingham LF
Hideki Matsui DH
Kurt Suzuki C
Mark Ellis 2B
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Cliff Pennington SS

Josh Outman LHP

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