March 2012

Orioles @ Pirates lineups & pregame notes

*In case you missed it, Brian Roberts will start the season on the 15-day disabled list but will travel north to Baltimore and remain with the team. More on the second baseman’s progression in returning from a concussion here.

*The Orioles trimmed their spring roster to 35 today, optioning Matt Antonelli, Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken to Triple-A Norfolk’s camp and reassigning Dontrelle Willis, Scott Beerer, John Hester, Steve Tolleson and Armando Galarraga to Minor League camp. They officially DL’ed Roberts and Zach Britton (shoulder), who are both on the 15-day DL.

Two interesting notes on the cuts: 1) Berken and Bergesen will both be stretched out and used as starters in Triple-A Norfolk. 2) Tolleson and Antonelli leaving camp makes it pretty obvious that Ryan Flaherty will make the team as a bench player serving a utility role. Manager Buck Showalter said it’s not a definite decision, but it certainly looks good for the Rule 5 pick right now.

*Jai Miller is available for tonight’s game, after being sidelined with a minor knee issue. Fellow outfielder Endy Chavez (groin) remains out, although he said it would only be another day or two.

*Alfredo Simon threw a bullpen yesterday and he said today he had no problems physically. Simon, who has been sidelined with a groin injury, is still being considered as a starter although Showalter said it largely depends on how Tsuyoshi Wada throws in Tuesday’s start. Simon and Wada are both potential long relief options as well. and in my opinion what they do with Wada will have a big impact on the rest of this team.

The Orioles’ pregame notes have Matusz starting Friday, which presumably pushes Jake Arrieta back to Saturday. Arrieta could then be in line for April 6’s Opening Day start on 5 days rest. The 26-year-old right-hander has been heavily speculated as the Orioles’ choice to start the season, although Showalter has remained mum on naming an official Opening Day starter.

Right now, the rotation looks to be (in order) Jake Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel and Tommy Hunter with Brian Matusz a strong candidate for the fifth spot and  Wada, Simon, Dana Eveland and Chris Tillman also possibilities.

*Relievers Kevin Gregg and Matt Lindstrom both pitched two innings in a Minor League game this afternoon and Showalter said all went well. Lindstrom hit 98 mph with his fastball during the outing.

*Catcher Ronny Paulino will not be in camp tomorrow as he is undergoing a minor medical procedure.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nolan Reimold LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 3B
Wilson Betemit 1B
Ronny Paulino DH
Robert Andino 2B

Tommy Hunter RHP
PIRATES LINEUP

Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones 31B
Rod Barajas C
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS

Erik Bedard LHP

Roberts to head to Baltimore w. the team (updated)

Optimism for Brian Roberts’ return to the Orioles’ lineup got a lift on Monday, with the news that the second baseman —who will be placed on the disabled list – will head north to Baltimore with the team next week.

Roberts, who last appeared in a game on May 16, said he was told he would be placed on the 15-day DL, not the 60-day, which is another encouraging sign for the longest-tenured Oriole.

“ I really didn’t want to be separated again, be down here away from my teammates and kind of not feel a part of things,” said Roberts of not staying in extended spring camp. “Medically, even more so, it was important. My doctor felt it was really very important to be in that environment as much as possible. Around the crowded stadiums, and start to readjust to the travel schedule and those things all over again. Those are all things that he’s had guys have difficulty with in the past.

When you are in a rehab assignment down here, you are in a very controlled environment. Same time, same place, not a lot of people around and you can get acclimated to that. But, when you go up into that atmosphere it’s a whole different ball game.”

Roberts said he his daily schedule will tentatively be the same it has been in the final weeks of camp, which includes taking infield work and pregame batting practice. He has not gotten into a spring game but has started watching the team’s games from the dugout as he tries to reacclimate to that environment.  Roberts has said several times this spring that being around his teammates has been welcome reprieve in his recovery and he reiterated that sentiment Monday.

“I told [Orioles manager Buck Showalter] the other day, I said ‘You don’t know how excited you made me’,” Roberts said.” Now I know I don’t have to stay down here and be isolated from everybody. That was part of the miserable aspect of it last year. Last year I knew it was important for me to be down here and get away from the crazyiness, now it’s important for me to get back into the crazyiness.

So, I guess the good part is the difference of where I am in the recovery process.”

While Roberts said every step in his progression has been important, he acknowledged that Monday’s news is one of the most important so far. He has not had any setbacks as of late and continues to remain optimistic that he will take the field for Baltimore at some point this season.

When that will be is anyone’s guess, although the decision to keep Roberts on the 40-man roster by not putting him on the 60-day DL, is a sign of good faith that the second baseman could return sooner, rather than later.

“I have hope that I’m coming back,” said Roberts who keeps in frequent contact with Twins’ infielder Justin Morneau who also dealt with a concussion. “Obviously if they didn’t think I was going to come back they probably would 60-day DL me. But, I think we are all hopeful that’s not the case at this point.”

“We are going on the 15 day dl, so we are conceding that I won’t be ready in 15 days. But other than that, we aren’t conceding anything at this point.”

 

Post-game notes

A few notes following the Orioles’ 3-3 tie against the Phillies this afternoon..

*Kevin Gregg and Matt Lindstrom will each throw two innings in a Minor League game tomorrow.

*Tsuyoshi Wada will make his first spring start Tuesday versus the Minnesota Twins. He will be followed by Chris Tillman. Over in the Minors’ game, Wei-Yin Chen will throw six innings with Luis Ayala also scheduled to throw.

*Dana Eveland will start Wednesday, with Jason Hammel on Thursday. That would put Jake Arrieta on Friday.

*Also, manager Buck Showalter told reporters the team should have news tomorrow on what Brian Roberts’ schedule will look like post-Spring Training.

Matusz’s afternoon

Orioles starter Brian Matusz had an uneven outing Sunday afternoon, struggling primarily in the third inning, as the 25-year-old continues to push to be part of the Orioles’ Opening Day starting rotation.  Matusz, who was in the 89-91 mph range with his fastball, said his stuff wasn’t as sharp as in previous starts, although he was pleased he was able to get his work in in the 83-pitch outing. He was charged with three runs on six hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch over 4 2/3 innings against the Phillies.

I’ll have a full story up on Matusz later, but here are a few quotes from his interview with reporters…

[on not being sharp from get-go] “I was rushing a little bit. Rushing my delivery, I wasn’t able to settle in with something that felt good. Felt like I was battling all game. Just kept battling, kept attacking the zone.”

[on getting up to 83 pitches] “There’s positive in every negative.  I didn’t get as many innings as I wanted to, but I was able to get the pitch count up. Something to work on for next outing.”

[on if he’s where he wants to be at this point in camp] “Absolutely. I’m right on track to continuously staying healthy and building my pitch count up. I’m looking forward to my next outing.”

[on if he feels he’s done enough for a spot] “That’s out of my control. You ask me that every time. My job is to go out there and pitch every five days and let the coaches do their part.”

[on if he’s gotten better from start to start] “Yeah, I’m definitely progressing. Through the course of the season there’s always going to be mechanical things that come off a little bit. So it’s just a battle and a grind to keep those things tight. And I’ve definitely got some things to work on this week.”

Chavez, Miller progressing

Outfielders Endy Chavez (groin) and Jai Miller (right knee) were both out of the lineup again Sunday although manager Buck Showalter said Miller could get into Monday night’s game against Pittsburgh.

Miller last played on Tuesday as a late-game replacement and he said Sunday he’s been dealing with right knee tendinitis –an old basketball injury—for about a week-and-a-half before it started to worsen.

“I had to think of the whole season instead of right now because you don’t want to do anything too serious where you’re not able to be on the field for an extended period of time,” Miller said.

“I’ll see how today goes. We’re going to get out and test it pretty good [in practice]. Hopefully, [I’ll] have no setbacks and be ready to roll.”

Chavez — who last played on Wednesday in Dunedin–could also play on Monday night although Showalter seemed less inclined to pencil him in, saying “Tuesday-ish” was the goal.

“He’s getting better every day,” Showalter said of Chavez, who has already secured a spot on the Opening Day roster. “Hopefully I feel comfortable playing him. I’d have to feel 100 percent, he’s a no-risk factor to do that.”

Orioles @ Phillies

*Outfielder Endy Chavez is out for a fourth straight game w a groin injury.  He is not on the travel roster for Sunday night’s game, either.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Xavier Avery CF
Robert Andino 2B
Nick Johnson DH
Chris Davis 1B
Nolan Reimold LF
Wilson Betemit 3B
Scott Beerer RF
Ronny Paulino C
Manny Machado SS

Brian Matusz LHP

PHILLIES LINEUP

Jimmy Rollins SS
Placido Polanco 3B
Jim Thome 1B
John Mayberry, Jr. CF
Luis Montanez RF
Carlos Ruiz C
Brent Clevlen LF
Freddie Galvis 2B

Roy Halladay RHP

Post-game notes

*Orioles starter Jake Arrieta had another solid spring outing Saturday afternoon, as he continues to make a strong case for the team’s Opening Day starter.

The 26-year-old Arrieta allowed a first-inning run to the Nationals and settled in after that, not allowing another baserunner until the fifth.  He retired 12 in a row at one point and exited after throwing 72 pitches, 40 for strikes in the five-inning outing.

“[I] was throwing across my body a little bit at the start of the game,” Arrieta said. “[It was] Just one of those days in spring where you go out and feel a little bit off physically. Wasn’t tired or didn’t feel bad. Felt a little uncomfortable at the start of the game. Our bullpen mounds here are really high and the game mound is drastically different. That’s a little adjustment there–the first inning. Really just continue to stay on my line and throw across my body is what really helps me refine my rhythm and tempo.”

Arrieta, whose fastball was consistently at 94 mph, also picked up a pair of strikeouts and said his goal moving forward is to throw his breaking ball for strikes.

“That’s really all I want to do from here on out, throw all my pitches,” he said. “Physical strength is there. Everything is there. It’s just a matter of continuing to refine those pitches and get a little bit better out of the stretch and get a little better tempo and really work on keeping that for the entirety of the game.”

*Arrieta was followed by Dontrelle Willis, who had a rocky Orioles’ debut in issuing three consecutive walks in the sixth, leading to two runs (one earned). Willis, who officially signed to a Minor League contract with the Orioles Wednesday, had thrown two bullpens since his arrival and his fastball on Saturday ranged from 82-87 mph according to the stadium radar gun. Working with the bases loaded and no outs, Willis got Jesus Flores to pop up and the Nats pushed a run across on Corey Brown’s groundout. Mark Reynolds’ two-out throwing error allowed a second run to score and Willis –who threw 12 of 28 pitches for strikes –finished up his work in the team’s bullpen.

*Orioles catcher Matt Wieters connected for his second homer of the spring with a three-run shot in the third inning and went 4-for-4 with six  RBIs on Saturday afternoon.

“I think a game or two ago, he was starting to get loaded a little more and not drift [with his stance],” manager Buck Showalter said of Wieters, who entered the game hitting. .129 with one homer and an RBI.  “He knows what he’s doing, but it’s one thing to have your brain and knowledge say one thing and [have] your body cooperate.”

*Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos made a rare visit inside the team’s brand-new clubhouse area prior to Saturday’s game against the Washington Nationals. Angelos, who was joined by his son, Lou –was also in attendance for Friday’s game at Ed Smith Stadium.

“It was great having him here,” manager Buck Showalter said. “The players were excited. Guys who have been here a while, it was really good for them to see [him]. They enjoyed it.”

Angelos has been the organization’s managing partner since August 1993 and typically takes a yearly visit down to Florida for Spring Training.

“He should be very proud of what he accomplished with this locker room and this facility,” Showalter said of the renovations in Sarasota, which has made the Orioles’ spring home a world-class facility. “The [support from the] city, the county and everything and of course Peter had to sign off on finishing off a few things that put it at a little different level. [The] same thing with some of the improvements at Camden Yards.”

“I think a game or two ago, he was starting to get loaded a little more and not drift [with his stance],” manager Buck Showalter said of Wieters, who entered the game hitting. .129 with one homer and an RBI.  “He knows what he’s doing, but it’s one thing to have your brain and knowledge say one thing and [have] your body cooperate.”

Orioles vs Nationals (w. pregame notes)

*J.J. Hardy is  back in the lineup after missing two games with a sore right shoulder, while Endy Chavez (groin) is out for a third game. Chavez could be out for a few more days, there’s really no rush since he’s making the team and the Orioles’ don’t want to make the injury worse.

*In case you missed it yesterday, I wrote about reliever Jim Johnson’s down velocity and where the right-hander hopes to be come April 6’s Opening Day. You can read that here.

*There was some thought to having Nick Markakis serve at designated hitter this afternoon, but manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to stay with the original plan, which is Markakis playing right field on Monday night against the Pirates.

*Alfredo Simon will throw a bullpen tomorrow, his first since coming out of Sunday night’s start with groin discomfort.

*Dontrelle Willis and Daren O’Day are both available in relief, with Jason Berken going to Clearwater Sunday afternoon, for what could be his Grapefruit league debut.

*Tsuyoshi Wada will pitch in Tuesday’s game versus Minnesota. Wei-Yin Chen is scheduled to get that start.

Here are your lineups…
ORIOLES LINEUP
Ryan Flaherty RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Wilson Betemit DH
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 3B
Chris Davis 1B
Nolan Reimold LF
Robert Andino 2B

Jake Arrieta RHP
NATIONALS LINEUP
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Rick Ankiel Cf
Chad Tracy 1B
Wilson Ramos C
Jesus Flores DH
Corey Brown Lf
Brett Caroll RF
Steve Lombardozzi 3B

Edwin Jackson RHP

Hammel’s outing

Orioles starter Jason Hammel labored through a two-inning stint and was pulled before the third after throwing 59 pitches. After retiring the Red Sox in order in the first, Hammel allowed two runs on three hits and a pair of walks in a 39-pitch second inning. Hammel said afterwards he was pleased with the work he was able to get in, despite running into a lot of deep counts from foul balls.

“It’s frustrating,” he said of only going two innings because of pitch count. “I was making pretty good pitches. A lot of foul balls, extended innings with the heat. You can make all the excuses in the world, but I’m pretty pleased with the work today, no matter what the line would be.

“The slider was real good. The changeup and curveball went missing today, for some reason. I think I was rushing a little bit, but other than that, I’m not disappointed with anything today. I made some good pitches and they fouled them off, and I did what I did when I needed to make a pitch. I feel good.”

“[It was] one of those days where I was making pretty good pitches and they just weren’t putting them in play. I had my share of bad pitches in there, too, but I was just getting my work in and making sure I get to a certain point with the amount of pitches and just getting ready for the season. No reason to get hurt.”

Orioles vs Red Sox lineups & pregame tidbits

*A few notes while we (ok, I) mourn the Michigan State loss…

*Shortstop J.J. Hardy has been dealing with a sore right arm, but he downplayed it being an issue this morning, saying it’s something that happens to him every spring. Manager Buck Showalter said Hardy, who took pregame BP today, will probably start on Saturday.

*Got a few questions as to why Chris Tillman threw one inning in yesterday’s game. The right-hander did that instead of throwing his scheduled bullpen. He could it again this weekend. Tillman is still being looked at as a starter right now and will likely start one of the team’s games next week –the Orioles play division rivals Toronto and New York — although putting him in the bullpen is certainly an interesting idea to keep an eye on.

He’s not a bullpen option-yet, but Tillman could be down the road. Right now, he’s still in the mix to make the team as a starter.

*Jason Berken got into a game situation for the first time, recording four outs in a Triple-A game yesterday, and said he felt “better than expected”. Berken threw 16 pitches and his fastball was 92-94 mph, a performance that Showalter singled out in his pregame session this morning. The next step is probably for him –along with reliever Darren O’Day– to get into a Major League spring game.

*Alfredo Simon (groin) was going to throw a bullpen session but decided to be cautious and give it another day. Also, Jai Miller won’t be available for the game with a sore kneecap and Endy Chavez –who didn’t play yesterday — will get another day as he’s dealing with some groin soreness.

*As for the Orioles are shopping Mark Reynolds’ rumor, I don’t see them moving the third baseman this spring. Reynolds is due to make $7.5 million this year and he was the team leader in homers and RBIs last season, so they’d have to get something substansial back.

Here are your lineups…

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nolan Reimold LF
Nick Johnson 1B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 3B
Wilson Betemit DH
Steve Tolleson 2B
Robert Andino SS

Jason Hammel RHP
RED SOX LINEUP
Nick Punto 3B
Jose Iglesias SS
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Darnell McDonald CF
Josh Kroeger RF
Lars Anderson 1B
Jason Repko LF
Nate Spears 2B
Mauro Gomez DH

Clay Buchholz SP

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