July 2011

O’s acquire Phillips

The Orioles acquired left-handed pitcher Zach Phillips from the Rangers on Tuesday afternoon for infielder Nick Green and cash.

Phillips was added to the 40-man roster and assigned to Triple-A Norfolk, with the Orioles designating right-hander Choyre Spoone for assignment to make room.

The 24-year-old Phillips is 1-3 with a 4.43 ERA (44.2IP, 22ER), 38 strikeouts and three saves in 33 relief appearances for Triple-A Round Rock this season. In 213 games over seven career Minor League seasons, he is 31-39 with a 4.10 ERA (682.0IP, 311ER) and 653 strikeouts. A 23rd round pick by the Rangers in the 2004 First Year Player Draft, Phillips has averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and 2.33 strikeouts per walk in his career.

He will join an Orioles organization with an alarming lack of pitching depth that has been forced to dip into the Triple-A roster on a near-nightly basis.

Green was signed by the Orioles as a Minor League free agent prior to this season. The 32-year-old hit .208 (64-308) with 16 doubles, 10 home runs and 46 RBIs in 87 games for Norfolk. Spoone, has pitched to a 4.73 ERA (97.0IP, 51ER) in 19 starts combined between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk this season.

Ortiz & Gregg on the suspensions

David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg will both start their lessened punishments tonight, serving three-game suspensions as well as getting reductions in their $2500 fines. Here’s what they had to say..

GREGG

[on if he talked to the League]

“Yea, I talked to the league a little bit, I talked to the player’s association a little bit.  But the bottom line is trying to do what’s in the best interest of the team.  Just to get things done, to take my time now.  Ortiz is taking him time now, so I still don’t think it’s fair that we have the same fine, same suspension, but we’re going to move past that point and get on with the season.

[on if there will be any carryover or if all the ill will is done?]

“Yea, I’m not going to charge a batter or nothing.  We’re going to stand out there, we are going to make our pitches, we’re going to play the game the way it should be.  I don’t think there’s going to be any carryover, I think we’re going to go out and play the game hard, win every game and that’s about it.”

[on the Orioles losing Guerrero to the DL stemming from a hit by pitch that series]

“You look at the whole breakdown of it, we lost our DH for two weeks and they lost theirs for three days.  So, no it’s not fair.  But what you can do, you got to play the game.”

[on the Red Sox]
“They’re a good club.  But they look at us and when we try to pitch in -and we’ve hit maybe 20 guys the whole year and they’re in the mid-50s, and then they get mad at us when we hit somebody.  In the last series we weren’t even guy for a guy at all and they complain about us pitching in.  I pitched in to David [Ortiz] and got him out, and there were complaints.  So sometimes I think they hold themselves to a little bit higher standard than everybody else.  I think we should all be treated equally.”

[on if there's a chip on the Orioles' shoulder]
“I hope our team always has a chip on its shoulder.  You got something to prove over time you go in between the white lines.  Guys are learning that, getting the experience and taking that step together as a team is all part of it.”

ORTIZ

[on his suspension]
“I found out this morning. It happened and I’ve got to take it like a man. They told us and we agreed and that’s about it.”

[on if he wanted to present his side to the League]

“I don’t want to go over the same thing again. Doing what I did wasn’t the right thing to do. I’m going to be punished for that like anyone else. You try and get it over with.”

[on if the suspensions will cool the bad blood]

“Like I tell you guys before, when a situation like that goes down, it happens at the time and then it’s over. I don’t think it’s going to be the same situation. They made their decision the way they wanted to. That’s it.”

[So no carry over?]
“Hopefully not.”

Orioles/Red Sox lineups and pregame tidbits

*The Orioles finalized a three-year contract extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy this afternoon. I’ll have more on that later.

*Brian Matusz was named International League Player of the Week

*Here are your lineups with Kevin Gregg and David Ortiz both set  to begin serving three-game suspensions tonight. No word yet on Michael Gonzalez’s three-game suspension (which is currently still being appealed) but he could start serving a less sentence, just like Gregg did, as soon as Friday.

*As expected, the Orioles have infielder Josh Bell and right-handed pitcher Mark Worrell here in the places of Alfredo Simon and Mitch Atkins, respectively. Simon is expected to only be in the Dominica Republic for a day, so the O’s 25-man roster could change again real soon.

*Cesar Izturis (elbow surgery) will play in his first rehab game in the Gulf Coast League on Friday –which pushes him back a few days — while Luke Scott will continue his rehab tonight with Double-A Bowie. Scott could be activated as soon as tomorrow.

*Brian Roberts had a good day in extended spring, fielding grounders and taking swings in coaches’ batting practice.

ORIOLES LINEUP
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones  CF
Matt Wieters C
Derrek Lee 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Nolan Reimold DH
Felix Pie LF
Robert Andino 2B
Brad Bergesen SP

RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Josh Reddick CF
Carl Crawford LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
J.D. Drew RF
Marco Scutaro SS
Tim Wakefield SP

Orioles/Indians lineups and pregame tidbits

*Outfielder Matt Angle and left-handed pitcher Troy Patton are here ( for Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Viola, respectively) with Angle set to make his Major League debut.  The Ohio native will have his mom, wife, uncle and cousin in attendance at Camden Yards today for the event.

*The Orioles have gotten word from the League regarding the pair of appealed suspensions for Kevin Gregg and Michael Gonzalez,but manager Buck Showalter declined to divulge details because it’s still tentative.

I wrote yesterday that it was looking like Gregg’s suspension –which is at four games — would get knocked down and he could start serving a lesser sentence as early as Monday, which is also when the Red Sox come to town. The Orioles will put Alfred Simon on the restricted list after today’s game and could call up a pitcher in his spot to help keep the bullpen fresh given that long reliever Brad Bergesen is inline to make Monday’s start.

Gonzalez, who is appealing a three-game suspension, wouldn’t serve his punishment the same time as Gregg. Another factor at hand in the roster flux is the availability of Luke Scott, who will try to go to Double-A Bowie to get swings tonight and could be activated as early as Tuesday.

*Showalter said the team remains optimistic Guerrero will be able to return when his DL stint it up, which would be the 26th.

*Brian Matusz tossed seven scoreless innings for Triple-A Norfolk last night and has progressed in each of his three starts since being demoted. Matusz allowed three hits and two walks and struck out eight.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Matt Angle LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters DH
Derrek Lee 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Robert Andino 2B
Craig Tatum C

Mitch Atkins SP

INDIANS LINEUP

Michael Brantley LF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Travis Hafner DH
Carlos Santana C
Grady Sizemore CF
Matt LaPorta 1B
Travis Buck RF
Lonnie Chisenhall 3B
Luis Valbuena 2B
Jeanmar Gomez SP

Vlad to DL tmrw, Os roster in flux

The Orioles are expected to place Vladimir Guerrero on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday, the first of what could be several roster moves in the next few days.

Guerrero — who has a broken bone in his right hand — can’t hold a bat and said he feels pain when swinging, making the DL an obvious decision. The veteran designated hitter was hit by a pitch in Sunday’s game at Boston and hasn’t played since, leaving the Orioles with a short bench for the Cleveland series.

When asked if the team would have another hitter for Saturday’s game, manager Buck Showalter said he didn’t think it was possible with Triple-A Norfolk currently playing in Gwinnett.  Outfielder Matt Angle and third baseman Josh Bell are the two candidates to replace Guerrero on the 25-man roster and it’s possible the team ends up activating both players at some point in the next few days depending on the status of the bullpen, which has a pair of looming suspensions for Kevin Gregg and Michael Gonzalez, and the timetable for Luke Scott (torn right labrum), who could be activated as early as Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of moving parts right now,” Showalter said of the team’s roster.  “It’s unusual after the break, but we had some things in Boston, some self-inflicted, some not self-inflicted, that we’ve had to make adjustments on and put it in a different situation.”

Another factor is Saturday’s starter Alfredo Simon, who will leave the team following Sunday afternoon’s game to tend to a legal issue in the Dominican Republic stemming from his New Year’s Day arrest and imprisonment. The team is expected to place Simon on the restricted list prior to Monday’s game which frees up a roster spot for as long as he is gone, which is expected to be just a day.  Since you don’t get paid on the restricted list and Simon technically doesn’t have to be in the Dominican until Monday he will still assume a roster spot and be with the team –although obviously unavailable to pitch – on Sunday.

The expectation is that the Orioles will get word on Gregg’s appeal of his four-game suspension by Monday and if his sentence is reduced he could start serving that early next week. Under that scenario Gonzalez (three games) would continue to appeal to keep the bullpen from being down two arms. With Simon in the rotation right now and long reliever Brad Bergesen tentatively slated to start Monday, adding fresh arms from Triple-A to keep the bullpen from being taxed is another possibility before this weekend is through.

Orioles/Indians pregame notes and lineups

*In his press conference today, Buck Showalter said a decision on Vlad and the DL will be made in the “near future”

*Luke Scott got a cortisone shot in his shoulder Friday, felt good today and will play with Class Double-A Bowie tomorrow if everything goes well today.  He is eligible to return on Tuesday

*After starting tonight, Alfredo Simon will go on the restricted list Sunday, as he has to travel to the Dominican for legal issues.  This allows room for another roster spot.

*Showalter said Brad Bergensen will take a work day today, will not likely pitch tonight and will be Monday’s starter against Boston unless he has to be used in a relief situation until then

*The Orioles will hear news on Kevin Gregg and Michael Gonzalez’s suspension appeals by Monday

*Zach Britton, who gave up a home run in three innings yesterday for Bowie, could return to Baltimore before July 30 and will go four innings in his next minor league start

*Brian Matusz will pitch tonight for Class Triple-A Norfolk

-Avi Zaleon

ORIOLES LINEUP

J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Derrek Lee 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Felix Pie LF
Nolan Reimold DH
Blake Daivs2B
Alfredo Simon RHP

INDIANS LINEUP

Michael Brantley LF
Asdrubal Cabrerra SS
Travis Hafner DH
Carlos Santana 1B
Lonnie Chisenhall 3B
Orlando Cabrera 2B
Austin Kearns RF
Lou Marson C
Ezequiel Carrera CF
Carlos Carrasco RHP

Vlad is not able to swing the bat, no DL decision yet

Designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero told reporters through translator Rudy Arias Saturday that the Orioles have not informed him of a disabled list decision, but he cannot physically swing a bat.  His broken right hand, which he suffered after getting hit by a pitch in Boston, limited him to only four swings yesterday in the batting cages and will not attempt any more today.  Guerrero, who will not start again tonight against the Indians, is likely to go on the DL though because the Orioles only have two players coming off the bench.  Last night rookie Blake Davis was put in to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth. Nolan Reimold, who hit a home run last night, will again fill in for Vlad at the DH spot.  The veteran slugger said through Arias that he does not experience pain, unless gripping the bat.

-Avi Zaleon

Hardy extension nearly complete

The Orioles agreed to terms with shortstop J.J. Hardy on a three-year contract extension, a deal still pending a physical and some other details, but one deemed nearly complete on Saturday afternoon.

The 28-year-old Hardy, who is making $5.85 million this season, will get a significant pay raise in the deal, which will net him around $22 million through the 2014 season, according to two sources. The Baltimore Sun first reported the terms of the deal with Hardy, who had made it no secret that he wanted to stay with the organization if a deal could be reached.

The two sides agreed to be moving closer earlier this week with multiple reports speculating that Hardy –considered the Orioles best trade chip – would be off the market. Part of the holdup in reaching a deal was the assurance that he wouldn’t be dealt at the Trade Deadline and he has a partial no-trade clause that will kick in beginning in 2012, the first year of his extension.

Acquired in an offseason trade with Minnesota, Hardy enters Sunday batting .275 with 13 homers and 33 RBIs and he has been one of the team’s best offensive weapons since missing a month with an oblique injury.

The extension makes sense for both sides giving Hardy, who has had trouble staying healthy, stability and providing the Orioles with a long-term solution at shortstop. Hardy has made just two errors  in 63 games and with top shortstop prospect Manny Machado (who left Friday’s game with hip flexor tightness) considered to be about two years away, the Orioles would have been faced with finding another stopgap had they let Hardy hit free agency at the end of the season.

The Orioles have not confirmed the deal, although it is expected to be made official soon.

Ortiz on appealing suspension and any carryover

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz confirmed the numerous reports from yesterday that he would appeal his four-game suspension, which was handed down as part of MLB’s discipline in the Orioles series last weekend.

As far as Ortiz is concerned, there should be no continuation of any bad blood with the Orioles.

“Hopefully not,” he said to reporters in St. Petersburg. “Not from my side.”

“[Orioles reliever Michael Gonzalez] threw at me and you saw my reaction, what it was,” Ortiz said. “I was surprised they were still carrying the thing over. But let’s see. We have Major League Baseball always doing the right thing to make sure we don’t get into that too much. … Everybody should turn the page.”

Ortiz was front and center twice in the heated four-game set, charging the mound with closer Kevin Gregg pitching to start an on-field brawl Friday and he was thrown behind on Sunday, resulting in Gonzalez’s ejection.

“A lot of things go through your mind,” Ortiz said of  Gonzalez’s fastball that sailed past his back.  “Sometimes you get kind of into a situation. You either act like you don’t care or you do what you’ve got to do. I got caught in a situation and you must move on.

“Trust me, I don’t play baseball that way. Sometimes there are some buttons that get to be pushed and you get caught up in that. It’s the kind of situation you don’t want to be involved in. It’s not what the fans come to watch and definitely you feel embarrassed.

“You don’t want anybody looking at you like you’re a punk. I’m a grown-ass man and I respect everybody and that’s why I have a lot of friends around the league because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

On the beat..

I’m well aware (most of the time anyways) of the cool opportunities this job affords in traveling the country and going to different ballparks.  In addition to trying to eat the local food and find a good running route, I try to snap a few photos of the different parks and I’ve been really slacking in putting pictures up on this blog.

So, here are some recent photos from the Orioles InterLeague play this year, which took them to DC,  Pittsburgh and Atlanta. ( To view the bigger version of each picture just click on the image.) Enjoy.

NATIONALS PARK

(the view from the press box)

PNC PARK (home of the Pirates)

(view from the press box)

(Pirates taking pregame batting practice)

TURNER FIELD (home of the Braves)

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