September 2011

Orioles/Rays lineups

*An X-ray taken on Adam Jones’ right thumb yesterday came back negative, and he remains day-to-day. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he was hoping Jones would be able to started tomorrow’s series finale.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Robert Andino 3B
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 1B
Nolan Reimold LF
Ryan Adams 2B
Kyle Hudson CF

Alfredo Simon RHP

RAYS LINEUP

Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Ben Zobrist 2B
Johnny Damon DH
matt Joyce RF
Casey Kotchman 1B
John Jaso C
Sean Rodriguez SS

LHp David Price

 

A few more tidbits

* Orioles sixth-round Draft pick Nick Delmonico was at Camden Yards on Monday afternoon, taking pregame batting practice with the Major League club and the young infielder –selected out of Farragut (Knoxville, Tenn.) High School, called the experience a “dream come true”.

Delmonico, who will head back to Sarasota to participate in instructional league was struck with how nice all of the current Orioles players and coaches was and said he would use the experience on Monday as motivation.

“Now every time I take the field I’ll have this in the back of my mind,” Delmonico said. “You know, that this is there for me in the future. I’m going to go out there and work that much harder. It’s a blessing to have, I’m very fortunate.”

*The Orioles haven’t been shy in calling up a large number of players for roster expansion, but the one notable name left out of September callups was right-hander Chris Tillman. Tillman, who made the team out of Spring Training but struggled to establish any kind of consistency. He went 3-6 with a 5.19 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A and ends the season with a 3-5 mark at the Major League level, pitching to a 5.52 ERA in 13 starts for the Orioles.

“We just felt like as an organization, with the innings and everything that has [been] going on…let him rest from the season and hopefully be ready to come in and compete next year for a spot,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said when asked to explain the reasoning regarding Tillman. “Overall, thinking about all the factors, it was in his best interest to be done with the season.”

*On Saturday, the Orioles and Oriole Advocates will hold the annual Cardboard to Leather Collection at Oriole Park before the O’s take on the Angels. Volunteers at each gate of the park will accept donations of new and gently used baseball and softball equipment. Monetary donations will also be accepted. Those contributing to the collection will receive an autographed player card while supplies last.

A silent auction will also be held inside Gate E on the main concourse to support Cardboard to Leather. The auction will begin when gates open and will conclude at 8:30 p.m. and will feature memorabilia from current Orioles, including Nick MarkakiS, Adam Jones and Matt wieters.

In a special ceremony prior to the game, Legg Mason will present the Oriole Advocates Charitable Foundation with a $20,000 contribution for the Cardboard to Leather Equipment Collection. In addition, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund will award a grant of $5,000 to the Oriole Advocates Charitable Foundation for the purchase of new equipment.

Proceeds from the collection, silent auction, and check presentations will benefit the following: LaTrinidad Little League and Sebaco Valley Little Leagues in Nicaragua, Association Capitanan de Arecibo and Association Recreative Arbeja in Puerto Rico and Sapporo Youth Baseball and Softball Program in Japan that were affected by the tsunami.

Orioles/Rays lineups and pregame tidbits

*Reliever Jason Berken (right elbow discomfort) was officially activated off the disabled list today, as expected.

*Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is not in the starting lineup for Monday’s series opener after being a late scratch from Sunday’s game in Toronto. Jones, who was also sidelined with ankle soreness, said he’s been bothered with right thumb discomfort for about four or five months and will get an X-ray on the area tonight. The team will compare that to the X-Ray Jones had done in Atlanta to see if his thumb injury has gotten any worse.  Right now, Jones said he doesn’t have any problem throwing, but he can’t grip a bat.

Manager Buck Showalter said Jones is still considered day-to-day while Jones –who doesn’t take being sidelined lightly — said he could be used off the bench in a late-game situation, assuming he can convince Showalter accordingly.

*Brian Graham, the Orioles’ coordinator of Minor League instruction is here today and will replace  Bobby Dickerson, who’s headed to Sarasota to take part in instructional league. Showalter said Minor league coaches Denny Hocking and Jose Hernandez will also join the team and, among other things, will assist in throwing batting practice.

*Washington Capitals Captain Alexander Ovechkin will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to this Friday’s Orioles’ game. Ovechkin is promoting the Washington Capitals exhibition game vs. the Nashville Predators in the Baltimore Hockey Classic on Tuesday, September 20 at 1st Mariner Arena. To purchase tickets, fans should visit WashingtonCaps.com or BaltimoreHockeyClassic.com.

*On an unrelated but completely notable note, Michigan State football is now 2-0 on the year. Notre Dame, we are coming for you.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Matt Angle CF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Kyle Hudson LF
Robert Andino 2B

Zach Britton LHP

RAYS LINEUP

Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Ben Zobrist 2B
Johnny Damon DH
Sean Rodriguez SS
Casey Kotchman 1B
Jose Lobaton C
Brandon Guyer RF

Jeff Niemann RHP

Orioles’ Dream Week

Orioles fans can escape the chill of winter and live out their fantasy of being a major league player at the team’s Dream Week 2012. Held at the Orioles’ spring training and minor league complexes in Sarasota, Florida from January 30 – February 4, 2012, Dream Week participants will play daily doubleheader intrasquad games and receive full major league treatment, including a personalized Orioles home uniform and Baltimore road batting practice jersey. In honor of the 20th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Dream Week players will receive instruction from members of the 1992 Orioles throughout the week. Mike Devereaux, Leo Gomez, Chris Hoiles and Joe Orsulak are among the ’92 Orioles expected to attend.

Throughout Dream Week, participants will be treated like major leaguers. In addition to the Orioles uniform and BP jersey, the package includes daily breakfast and lunch served in the clubhouse, a clubhouse locker for each player, treatment by club athletic trainers and laundry service by clubhouse attendants. Participants will play doubleheader games each day at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park. The championship game will be played at the Orioles’ spring training home, Ed Smith Stadium. Dream Week participants will also play a reunion game at Camden Yards during the 2012 season.

Other features of Dream Week include a welcome reception, question and answer and autograph sessions with the former Orioles in attendance, an awards dinner at the end of the week and team and camp photos.

Dream Week is $4,199 and includes roundtrip airfare from Baltimore to Florida, ground transfers to and from the airport to the team hotel and six nights, seven days hotel accommodations (double occupancy, private rooms are available). Separate week and weekend packages are available for Dream Week guests.

Fans interested in participating in Dream Week should visit http://www.orioles.com/dreamweek, call 410-547-6063 or e-mail fancamp@orioles.com to register or to receive more information.

North of the Border

I’m taking a few days off and won’t be in Toronto with the team. So, what does that mean for you?

As always, all your Orioles coverage will still be on Orioles.com, so –besides a slower Twitter feed — not much will change. If you do have a question or I don’t get back to you via email or Twitter right away, my apologizes in advance.

I’ll be back on the beat on Monday.

Orioles/Yankee lineups

*The Yankees released a statement on last night’s game, which started after 11 p.m. ET and featured heavy rainfall.  Here’s what it said:

“The decision to play Tuesday night’s game vs. Baltimore was a collaborative effort between Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees.  Every possible effort was made to play the game because there were no suitable alternative dates on which to play a rescheduled game given the poor weather forecast for Wednesday.

“We certainly recognize the inconvenience to our fans and have invited them back to enjoy a future game at Yankee Stadium.”

*The rotation for the next few days is Alfredo Simon, Jeremy Guthrie and either Jo-Jo Reyes or Rick VandenHurk will take the spot vacated by Brian Matusz. Reyes was skipped after leaving the team for the birth of his son on Friday night, while  the team continues to be impressed with the strides VandenHurk has made.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Matt Angle CF
Robert Andino SS
Nick Markakis DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Nolan Reimold RF
Chris Davis 3B
Ryan adams 2B
Kyle Hudson LF
Craig Tatum C

Zach Britton LHP

YANKEE LINEUP

Eduardo Nunez SS
Russell Martin C
Nick Swisher RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Andruw Jones LF
Jesus Montero DH
Brandon Laird 1B
Greg Golson CF
Ramiro Pena 2b

A.J. Burnett RHP

Matusz reax to being taken out of rotation

Brian Matusz was removed from the Orioles rotation and will work with pitching coach Rick Adair and try to get back to form. The 24-year-old could be used out of the bullpen as needed, although the focus is on getting Matusz –who was projected to be the team’s No. 2 starter — right, first and foremost.

“There are two sides to it,’ manager Buck’ Showalter said of the decision. “I’m a father first. I don’t like to see anybody get beat up on. I don’t think that Brian is at a point right now where he can defend himself properly. It’s not going to be a matter of him throwing 94 or 93 miles per hour. He can pitch just like he is stuffwise. It’s just command issues and repeating his delivery and a lot of things he’s aware of.
“I feel for him, but not to the point where…he knows nobody is going to feel sorry for him in that other clubhouse. He’s got it. He understands a lot more than what people may perceive about what’s going on.”

Here is what Matusz had to say about the news…

[on whether the news shocked him or if it was no big deal?]
“Of course it’s a big deal. This is the team, it’s what’s going to take place for the next thee week sis a big deal. But yeah I’m going to work in the bullpen, work on what I need to do be consistent  with my fastball, and just keep working. Stay on track and do all the things I need to do in order to get that feel.”

[on the plan going forward]
“We are going to take it day by day of course. We haven’t ruled out anything. We’re just going to keep pitching. I’m going to keep working on my bullpens with Rick, when we feel like we’re ready to possibly get me in a game we’ll do that. “

[on if he can pinpoint what the problem is]
“I’m not going out there and I’m not consistent. Placing the exact reason on one thing, would be nice. It’d be nice to be able to do that and fix that problem. But for me, I’m not going to sit here and waste my time trying to figure out what the exact reason is. I’m just going to continue to work on things I need to do to be a better pitcher and  that’s it.”

[on if this will be a season he will look back and can laugh at later on in his career]
“I don’t think you ever want to laugh about going out there and not giving your team a chance to win.  that’s not something to laugh about. Obviously failure is not fun. I’m going to continue to learn from it. And I’m sure at one point down the road, I’ll be able to look at it and say I learned a lot from that season. That’s the overall goal.  But I’m going to keep at it. I like playing this game, that’s the reason why I’m here, I love this game I love doing it, I love being around  the guys and having that challenge of going out there and competing. So, for me I’m going to keep at it and keep a positive attitude and that’s all I can do about it. “

[on how he stays positive]
“When things are going tough it seems like there is no positives. But there’s a positive in every situation.  No one wants to fail, but learning from fault could be a positive, you could turn anything in a positive. For me I know I love this game, it’s still fun coming in and competing and trying to get better. And I’m going to keep doing it. “

Matusz out of rotation plans, will be in ‘pen

*Struggling Orioles’ lefty Brian Matusz will continue to work out of the bullpen for the foreseeable future, a decision reached after Matusz met with manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair behind closed doors this afternoon.

The news to remove Matusz from the team’s starting rotation is not permanent and Matusz said nothing final has been decided. What was agreed on is that the 24-year-old lefty needs to get back to form, and Matusz will work with Adair and continue to remain positive in a season that has been anything but.

*Also, infielder Chris Davis (right shoulder strain) was activated from the disabled list today and said he was surprised how good his shoulder felt immediately after giving it some rest. Davis was told he will be playing a lot more third base than first given Mark Reynolds’ struggles at the hot corner, and right now the hope is Davis can avoid surgery on his shoulder altogether.

Here are your lineups…There is rain in the forecast all night, but so far no word on whether the game will be bagged or not.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Matt Angle LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis 3B
Robert Andino 2B

Tommy Hunter RHP

YANKEES LINEUP
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Eric Chavez 3B
Jorge Posada DH
Francisco Cervelli C

Phil Hughes RHP

Fixing Brian Matusz

What do the Orioles do with Brian  Matusz, a 24-year-old lefty who was projected to emerge as a frontline starter this season? On Monday, Matusz tied the shortest non-injury start of his career, a four-out outing at Yankee Stadium that ballooned his 2011 ERA to 9.84.

“I don’t know that he’s doing us any good or we’re doing him any good [by keeping him in the rotation], “ president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said of Matusz, who made what looks like his final start this season after allowing five runs on five hits and two walks over 1 1/3 innings. “But [the decision] really is a function of the manager and the pitching coach.”

When asked if Matusz would be shut down for the season, manager Buck Showalter was noncommittal. But when posed the question if it was becoming difficult to run out the struggling lefty — who has pitched to an 11.42 ERA in four starts since being recalled from Triple-A – Showalter didn’t hesitate with his response.

“Of course it is,” said Showalter, who has watched Matusz surrender 25 hits (six homers) and eight walks over his last 17 1/3 innings. “I mean, not, of course it is. Obviously, where we were, we thought we’d look at him to start and see where we were afterward.”
Sometime in the next day or so, Showalter will sit down with pitching coach Rick Adair and Matusz and the three of them will work toward a solution, one that very well could involve Matusz shutting it down or continuing to work on things without making another official start. Asked if he felt he deserved another chance in the rotation, Matusz said, “That’s not my decision. I’m going to take the ball when Buck gives it to me, I m going to keep fighting, keep working hard and be able to build off the positive that I’ve had.”

Those positives are few and far between this season.  Since missing the first two months with a left intercostal muscle strain that forced him to the disabled list after making the Opening Day roster as the team’s No. 2 starter, Matusz has been unable to find his footing. The Orioles’ first-round Draft pick in 2008, Matusz was the American League Rookie of the Month last August, going 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last eight starts down the stretch and finishing the season tops among AL rookies in strikeouts and games started.

That dazzling form has been nowhere to be found in 2011. Matusz has one win in 11 starts, a 5 1/3-inning outing against a mediocre Oakland lineup that was followed with seven consecutive losses before Monday’s no-decision.

“I feel for the kid,” infielder Mark Reynolds, one of three Orioles who homered, said of Matusz’s slide.  “I guess he had a pretty good year last year, a lot of people had high expectations for him this year. So hopefully he takes this offseason, regroups and comes back strong and comes back healthy in the spring. And [he] can forget about this year and move forward.”

After retiring the first two batters he faced on Monday, Matusz’s day went downhill as Mark Teixeira went yard for a solo homer and Andruw Jones drove in another two-out run. Matusz issued a second-inning leadoff walk to rookie Jesus Montero and, one out later, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson belted a pair of doubles to spell the end of his afternoon.

“I felt good just made bad pitches,” said Matusz, who has allowed five or more earned runs in six consecutive starts. “A team like the Yankees will jump on you when you’re down, faster than you even think.”

Matusz has admitted that perhaps he wasn’t in the best shape to start the season, and he was sent down for a six-week stint in the Minors to regain his form, although the lefty’s early exit Monday did little to dispel the notion that he has not progressed as planned.

“If you just look at it statistically, I understand what it looks like,” Showlter said. “Brian, with our help and with his help, he’s going to show it to us again. It just wasn’t there for him today. He’s capable of better. We know that. It’s not there right now.”

Os will add 5

Infielder Chris Davis will be activated off the 15-day disabled list and is one of five players scheduled to join the Orioles on Tuesday in New York.

Lefty reliever Clay Rapada, right-hander Jeremy Accardo and third baseman Josh Bell will be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk along with Double-A Bowie’s Pedro Florimon, Jr. With Cesar Izturis (groin strain) not progressing as quickly as the team hoped, Florimon will add depth in the middle infield positions. The Orioles will have to add both Rapada and Accardo to the team’s 40-man roster, which is at capacity, by taking two other players off.

Davis played his second rehab game at Bowie on Monday afternoon, going 1-for-3 as the team’s third baseman and he went a combined 3-for-6 in two games, playing first base on Sunday.

“We are hoping to get Chris healthy and get a look at him and better evaluate where he fits,” manager Buck Showalter said of the 25-year-old Davis, who has been on the disabled list since August 10 with a right shoulder strain.

Acquired in a non-waiver Trade Deadline deal with Texas, Davis hit .225 with one homer and three RBIs in 10 games with Baltimore before landing on the DL. While Davis isn’t sure when he suffered the injury, an MRI taken on his shoulder earlier this year showed a tear in his right labrum — aggravated during an August series in Kansas City. Right now, the infielder hopes he can avoid surgery, come back to the Orioles and show his new club what he can do for the final few weeks of the season.

Davis played third base in Monday’s Bowie game, and with Oriole infielder Mark Reynolds’ defensive struggles at third– he had a pair of errors in Sunday’s game to raise his total to 26 at the hot corner– Davis could get an extended look as Baltimore’s third baseman if his shoulder holds up. He can also play first base and left field, both positions — along with third — that are still up for grabs heading into next season.

“One of the good things about him is he’s got a chance to be a plus defender,” Showalter said of Davis. “So the shoulder’s going to have to be good in order to bring that.”

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