May 2011

Orioles/Rays lineups and pregame tidbits

*Justin Duchscherer (left hip strain) will throw three innings in an extended spring simulated game later this week. Manager Buck Showalter said it’s too soon to speculate when he would go on a rehab assignment.

*Matt Wieters is getting a rare day off behind the plate. Wieters would probably catch every game if he could, but Jake Fox is making his fifth start behind the plate instead.

*Darius Rucker will sing the national anthem and perform a postgame concert. You might recall Rucker as the frontman from Hootie & the Blowfish before going on to a solo career.

*Closer Kevin Gregg was available last night despite pitching in the three games prior. Gregg prefers to be overused more than underused and pointed to the stretch he had in Florida where he pitched nine times in 11 games.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Showalter who –like me — had to look it up to make sure Gregg had remembered this accurately.

“He was talking about keeping the ball in his hand. That’s keeping the ball in his hand.”

I know people have various opinions about Gregg, but he has been a positive influence on the bullpen, spending time in the video room with the younger relievers and setting a great example in the fact that he wants the ball every day.

*Brian Roberts is struggling right now, entering Saturday marred in a 2-for-35 stretch, but Showalter said he’s still their best option in the leadoff spot.

Here are the lineups as the Orioles try to snap a four-game skid to Tampa Bay…

ORIOLES LINEUP

Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Derrek Lee 1B
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Luke Scott LF
Adam Jones CF
J.J. Hardy SS
Jake Fox C
Mark Reynolds 3B

Brad Bergesen RHP

RAYS LINEUP
Sam Fuld LF
Ben Zobrist 2B
Johnny Damon DH
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce RF
B.J. Upton CF
Casey Kotchman 1B
Reid Brignac SS
John Jaso C

Wade Davis RHP

Orioles/Rays lineups and pregame tidbits

*Brian Matusz threw around 38 pitches today in a side session at Tropicana Field and was in great spirits after. The plan for Mastuz is to remain with the team and fly Sunday back north. He will throw four innings for Frederick, around 55-60 pitches, and will get one more rehab start with Double-A Bowie or Triple-A Norfolk on May 21.

Matusz could be activated as early as his next turn on the 26th. The team wants to make sure he can go at least six or seven innings before activating him so they don’t cripple the bullpen.

*Top prospect Manny Machado (dislocated left kneecap) is still not participating in baseball activities and is at least a week away from returning. The swelling in Machado’s knee is down considerably, but the organization wants to wait until he is 100 percent before sending him out on a 3-5 day rehab program.

Machado suffered the injury on May 5 and his current timetable is longer than what the Orioles had anticipated initially, although it’s still considered a minor injury. Machado has considerably more swelling than Triple-A Norfolk’s Josh Bell –who had the same injury — did, which is why the team was more optimistic. Bell was able to play a few days later.

*Just a break for designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, with Luke Scott getting in some at-bats and Felix Pie getting a rare start in left field. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he’s going to try to work in Pie as much as possible.

*Justin Duchscherer threw a two-inning simulated game in extended spring today with no reported problems. Showalter said he threw 26 pitches, 23 strikes. The next logical step would be to move to three innings, although that will depend on how Duchscherer feels tomorrow.

*Orioles closer Kevin Gregg, despite throwing three consecutive games, might still be available. He told Showalter he feels great and has gone longer stretches before.

*Talk about a cool day for the Britton family. In addition to Zach Britton’s masterful start Thursday –in which he threw nine scoreless innings — his older brother, Buck, an infielder for Class-A Frederick, drove in all five runs for the Keys in a 5-4 win Thursday night with a two-run homer and a three-run double.

*The Baltimore Ravens 3rd round draft pick Jah Reid, a offensive line starter at nearby University of Central Florida, is on the field here at Tropicana Field before the game.

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

Jeremy Guthrie RHP

RAYS LINEUP
Sam Fuld CF
Ben Zobrist RF
Johnny Damon DH
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce LF
Casey Kotchman 1B
Sean Rodriguez 2B
Reid Brignac SS
John Jaso C

Jeremy Hellickson RHP

O’s attempt to sweep Mariners (Lineup and notes)

ORIOLES
Brian Roberts, 2B
Nick Markakis, RF
Derrek Lee, 1B
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Adam Jones, CF
Matt Wieters, C
J.J. Hardy, 6
Mark Reynolds, 3B
Robert Andino, LF
Zach Britton, SP

MARINERS
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Chone Figgins, 3B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Miguel Olivo, C
Jack Cust, DH
Mike Wilson, LF
Jack Wilson, 2B
Luis Rodriguez, SS
Michael Saunders, CF
Jason Vargas, SP

A couple lineup changes to take note of:

*Andino gets the start in left field. He had been working on his outfield play earlier in the week during practice and takes that post in place of Luke Scott. Scott has a SLAP (superior labrum anterior to posterior) tear in his right shoulder, but is not on the disabled list.

*Nick Markakis and Mark Reynolds return to their respective starting positions in the outfield and third base. Today Markakis said he was feeling fine, but was a little weak this morning. Read more on what he had to say at orioles.com.

*As scheduled, Zach Britton gets the start tonight. He is 5-2 with a 2.93 ERA, but has never faced the Marniers, who hold the fifth worst team batting average in the Majors, hitting .232. The last Baltimore pitcher to record his sixth win in May was Kris Benson in 2006.

O’s Pitchers in the midst of “Shoots and Ladders”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced a couple updates on Baltimore pitchers in the Minors.
Brian Matusz (strained left intercostal muscle) will meet up and take a work day with the Orioles in Tampa Bay tomorrow. From there, the ailing southpaw will fly back with the team on Sunday, as he takes his first start with Class-A affiliate Fredrick on Monday. Manager Buck Showalter said Thursday that Matusz will make his start for Class Triple-A Norfolk on May 21.

Relief pitcher Josh Rupe, who had been designated for assignment on Tuesday to make room for shortstop J.J. Hardy, has cleared waivers and will start for Class Triple-A Norfolk.

-Avi Zaleon

O’s- Yanks makeup game set for Aug. 27 DH

Per a team release…

The Orioles announced today that their April 22 postponed game against the New York Yankees will be made up at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday, August 27 as part of a day-night doubleheader at Camden Yards. The originally scheduled game for August 27 will still be played at 7:05 p.m. that evening.

Tickets dated April 22 will be accepted only at the 1:05 game on August 27; fans should simply bring their tickets from the April 22 game to the ballpark gates that day for admission. No exchange is necessary.

Parking passes dated April 22 will be honored for the 1:05 p.m. game on August 27.

Fans who cannot attend the August 27 1:05 p.m. game may exchange their tickets for any remaining game during the 2011 season, subject to availability. Student Night tickets from April 22 may be used for the first game of the August 27 doubleheader or exchanged for any other Friday home game during the 2011 season. Ticket exchanges must be made by June 30

Orioles/Mariners lineups and pregame tidbits

*Alfredo Simon threw five innings for Double-A Bowie this morning, allowing three earned runs in the 94-pitch outing. As I wrote yesterday, he will travel to the Dominican Republic instead of making his next scheduled start on the 16th. You can read more on that situation here.

*Justin Duchscherer (left hip strain) is slated to throw two innings in simulated game in extended spring on Friday. He threw a side with no problems today.

*Brian Matusz threw three innings of a sim game this morning. He was hit with a comebacker on his right wrist, but manager Buck Showalter said he’s fine. The plan is for Matusz to throw a side session this week in Tampa under the watchful eyes of pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Rick Adair. He will throw for Frederick on the 16th.

*Nick Markakis has flu-like symptoms (it’s been going around) and given that he’s contagious, he won’t be at the ballpark tonight. Showalter said Markakis went to visit his wife –who was hospitalized with the illness — following last night’s game, and then he became sick.

*Mark Reynolds is not in tonight’s lineup because he’s struggling. Reynolds –who is constantly taking early work and in the video room– has been scuffling for a while and the hope is he will get a mental break in not being in tonight’s lineup.

*Given last night’s 13-inning win, the Orioles are short on relievers and Showalter said there’s a few guys he wants to stay away from totally. Jeremy Accardo, Jim Johnson, and Koji Uehara are probably not available. Starter Brad Bergesen skipped his scheduled work day and will be available out of the ‘pen in an emergency tonight. Right now, he is still scheduled to make Saturday’s start.

The Orioles need a long start out of Chris Tillman tonight. If they don’t get one, they would likely have to be make a roster move to add another arm. Triple-A Norfolk’s starting pitchers the next two days are Chris George and Mike Ballard. Chris Jakubauskas, who went four scoreless yesterday, could be another option in relief.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Brian Roberts 2B
Felix Pie RF
Derrek Lee 1B
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Luke Scott LF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS
Robert Andino 3B

Chris Tillman RHP

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

Felix Hernandez RHP

Scott’s role won’t change with injury

Monday’s news that Orioles outfielder Luke Scott has a SLAP (superior labrum anterior to posterior) tear in his right shoulder, doesn’t figure to effect Scott’s playing time.

“I don’t think his status or the way that we were going to use him has really changed from yesterday,” manager Buck Showalter said of Scott, who was in Tuesday’s starting lineup in left field.

While Scott’s injury doesn’t figure to land him on the disabled list, given that it effects his throwing more than anything else early speculation was that Showalter would rotate Felix Pie in left field more often and perhaps give Scott some at-bats as designated hitter.

But while the team will continue to be vigilant in keeping Scott’s injury under control, Showalter said Tuesday that the diagnosis from Monday’s MRI wasn’t a surprise and –given that Scott has played with it since this spring – he will continue to do so.

“[The test was] for his peace of mind and making sure we were verifying what we felt like we already had,” Showalter said of the reasoning behind Monday’s MRI. “But like we’ve done this season already, we’ve spelled him here and there and we’ve picked out spots. We will continue to do that and play off what he’s telling us. Which he’s done. “

With a team-leading six home runs and 14 RBIs, Scott’s bat is badly needed in Baltimore’s lineup. He met with team orthopedist John Wilckens and the Orioles athletic training staff on Tuesday to continue to work out a proper rehab and treatment plan that will keep his right shoulder pain managed.

Orioles/Mariners series opener

*The Orioles officially activated shortstop J.J. Hardy from the 15-day disabled list prior to tonight’s game, designating reliever Josh Rupe for assignment in his place. Rupe will have 10 days to be traded, released or clear waivers, in which case he would outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. More on that here.

The decision to DFA Rupe instead of lefty Clay Rapada came down to roster management. While Rapada can’t give the team innings, he’s a lefty specialist and would have been probably been claimed by another team on waivers. Without Rupe, the only long men in the bullpen right now is Jason Berken, which is a tricky situation given the team’ starters have struggled to go deep into games. But if a guy like Chris Tillman struggles in tomorrow’s start, the Orioles could option him to Triple-A and recall a fresh arm for the bullpen. The same line of thinking applies with Brad Bergesen –who has struggled along with Tillman — on Saturday.

Right now, manager Buck Showalter said there isn’t any plans to put either of those pitchers in the bullpen. Although with Brian Matusz rejoining the rotation soon, it’s certainly not an avenue I’d rule out in the future.

*Matusz is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday in extended spring and will follow that up with an outing in Frederick on the 16th. Alfredo Simon will also pitch on Wednesday –for Double-A Bowie — but his outing on the 16th has been postponed. Simon needs to go to the Dominican Republic and Showalter said the team will still get him to pitch at least one more time after tomorrow before a decision needs to be made. Simon is on the restricted list until the 21st.

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

Jake Arrieta RHP

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

Michael Pineda RHP

Hardy activated, Rupe DFA’ed (w. quotes)

BALTIMORE– This isn’t the way shortstop J.J. Hardy envisioned beginning his career in Baltimore. But Hardy, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game, is hopeful he can step in and help give a reeling Orioles club –who have dropped six of their past seven games – a shot in the arm.

“I’m excited to just get back and do my part and be part of the team again,” said Hardy, who hit .200 with three doubles and two RBIs in six games.

Hardy went 2-for-9 with three walks in three rehab games at Triple-A Norfolk and said the biggest test was how his body felt on Saturday morning.

“That first game I was real worried, but coming in the next day and feeling basically 100 percent gave me a lot of confidence,” Hardy said. “I pretty much did everything in the first game I played I reached about as far as I could for a ball, didn’t feel anything so that’s a good thing. I was swinging basically 100 percent, I slid into home one night.

Basically I’ve done pretty much everything so there shouldn’t be any doubt or worry.”

Hardy was placed on the DL on April 13, retroactive to April 10, and said he feels his timing at the plate –given that he had a full Spring Training is close to regular season form.

“If not [completely] there I feel like I’m close and it shouldn’t be too long,” he said.

To make room for Hardy on the roster, the Orioles designated right-hander Josh Rupe for assignment. Rupe posted a 5.65 ERA (14 1/3 IP, 9ER) in nine appearances for Baltimore and his departure from the 25-man roster leaves the team with Jason Berken as the lone long man in the bullpen.

Hardy is expected to be in Tuesday’s starting lineup against the Mariners and the shortstop –who watched all of the Orioles games either of TV or his computer –is well aware of the team’s recent scuffles. He has exchanged texts messages with teammates and said he’s been anxiously awaiting his return since first picking up a bat in extended spring last week.

With Tuesday’s move, the Orioles 40-man roster is currently at 39.

Hardy not in Monday’s Tides’ lineup

J.J. Hardy was not in Monday’s starting lineup for Triple-A Norfolk as originally planned, making it likely that the Orioles shortstop’s rehab assignment is over and he is headed to rejoin Baltimore instead.

Hardy –who has been on the disabled list with a left oblique strain – was expected to be activated as early as Tuesday, which is the start of a three-game series in Baltimore against the Seattle Mariners. In three rehab games for Triple-A Norfolk, he went 2-for-9 with three walks and two runs scored and the reports relayed from manager Buck Showalter have been positive regarding Hardy’s defense and quality at-bats.

Hardy served at designated hitter on Sunday afternoon after playing in Saturday night’s game at shortstop, which was likely one of the final tests for his oblique. He made his rehab debut at shortstop on Friday night and the Orioles are expected to take a pitcher off their 25-man roster to make room for Hardy’s activation.

Acquired in an offseason trade with Minnesota, Hardy hasn’t played in a game for the Orioles since April 9.

Scott has partially torn labrum, expected to still play

Orioles outfielder Luke Scott has a “SLAP tear” in his right labrum — an MRI on Monday revealed — although the injury isn’t expected to put him on the disabled list.

(Thanks to my good buddy and injury expert writer Will Carroll, I’ll pass along that SLAP is an acronym for Superior Labral tear, Anterior to Posterior.)

Scott has been bothered since Spring Training by what he described as an impingement feeling in his right arm and Monday’s MRI revealed a preexisting injury and a partial tear around the labrum area. Both Scott and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said the expectation is he will continue to play with the injury since it only effects his throwing.

Scott, who couldn’t pinpoint when the pain started, said he is considering offseason surgery and the plan right now is for him to be reevaluated by team orthopedist John Wilckens and the team’s athletic training staff on Tuesday to work out the best way to keep his injury under control. Given that Scott’s offense hasn’t suffered, manager Buck Showalter could opt to rotate Felix Pie in at left field more and perhaps give Scott more rest or time at designated hitter.

With a team-leading six home runs and 14 RBIs, Scott’s bat is badly needed in an underperforming Orioles lineup.

Scott, who wanted to get an MRI on his ailing shoulder for “peace of mind” said Monday’s news was extremely disappointing.

“It’s frustrating, it’s tough to deal with,” said Scott, who couldn’t pinpoint how he reaggravated his shoulder or recall exactly how the injury was first suffered.

“But I’ve been playing through pain since this season started. So I’ll do the best I can and we will see what happens…But I’m not having surgery, I’m going to play.”

Scott, who is a man of strong faith, was also optimistic that the pain would subside much like his left Achilles pain did. He referred to it as “miracle healing” and you can bet he will be praying for much of the same thing right now.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 319 other followers