April 2012

Os trade Bell to Arizona (updated)

Once seen as the organization’s third baseman of the future, the Orioles traded third baseman Josh Bell to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday afternoon in exchange for a player to be named later.

Bell, who was in Major League Spring Training for Baltimore, was the centerpiece in the Orioles’ 2009 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for closer George Sherrill, but he has been unable to put together a consistent stretch of play.

Bell hit .200 in 79 games for the Orioles in parts of two seasons, and the club traded for Mark Reynolds last offseason and added Wilson Betemit this winter, to push Bell further down the depth chart. He was part of the first rounds of cuts this spring, and the 25-year-old switch-hitter, was designated for assignment Monday when the Orioles claimed catcher Luis Exposito off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. Once Bell was designated, the Orioles had 10 days to trade him, release him or see if he cleared waivers.

At the time he was DFA’ed, Bell was hitting .094 in nine games for Triple-A Norfolk with one home run and three RBIs. He is expected to be assigned to the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Tucson.

“We didn’t have a meeting of the minds for the player,” said Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who considered several names for Bell. “So, we are going to work on that for a short period of time. It may or may not be a player. We assigned him there and it may or may not be a player, it may just be cash considerations.”

There was interest in Bell from at least four teams, including the Dodgers, the team that originally selected him in the fourth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. But Duquette said the Orioles felt Arizona “liked him the most”.

“They were looking for some more depth for their third base for their Major-League team,” Duquette said.

Wada shut down, to get MRA (updated)

Orioles left-handed pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada has been shut down — stopping his rehab assignment — and the plan is for him to fly to Baltimore to see team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens for lingering left elbow soreness. Wada will get a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) on Tuesday, a test that is similar to an MRI but involves injecting dye in the area for a better picture, and there is no timetable for him to resume a throwing program.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Wada reported to be feeling discomfort in a different area of his elbow, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said the best course of action is having the 31-year-old see Wilckens.

“That’s why we are having him go through the doctor,” said Duquette, who watched Wada’s rehab start Thursday and was with the team in Anaheim on Saturday. “The doctor will be able to pinpoint what the issue is, hopefully.”

Duquette confirmed that Wada was hampered with the issue during Thursday’s start for Triple-A Norfolk, and the lefty also apparently had a neck spasm that he didn’t make the team aware of until after the game. Wada struggled in his first rehab outing, allowing six earned runs over 2 2/3 innings, and Duquette said the neck issue was a muscle strain that was related to his elbow injury.

“The way these things work everything is interconnected right,” Duquette said. “So if you have an issue somewhere you have to make an (adjustment) somewhere else.”

Saturday’s news means Wada’s rehab assignment could restart when he goes back out, giving the team another 30 days to work with if it is in fact a different injury. If the injury is the same as before, the Orioles would have to convince Major League Baseball to restart the clock on Wada.

Orioles @ Angels lineups and pregame tidbits

Greetings from Anaheim, the final leg of a three-city 10 game roadtrip. Here are your lineups and pregame tidbits…

*Hitting coach Jim Presley is not with the team and is dealing with kidney stone issues that crept up prior to Thursday’s game in Chicago. Presley –who spent last night in a hospital in Chicago– will not rejoin the Orioles on the West Coast and will meet the team back in Baltimore. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the team won’t have an interim hitting coach, but will have a few guys help out with the duties. DeMarlo Hale and John Russell both threw some batting practice on Friday.

*Tsuyoshi Wada (left elbow discomfort) was dealing with some neck stiffness before his rehab start on Thursday –an issue the team was not aware of until after the game — and right now there is discussion about Wada restarting his disabled list period. Showalter spoke with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette today and said if Wada isn’t able to make his next scheduled outing it may be a case where he goes back to extended spring. Once you are put out on a rehab assignment you can only be on one for 30 days. Since this would be a new injury, Wada would back to extended spring and get a new rehab assignment period, if the team goes that route.

*Nolan Reimold is back in the lineup after dealing with neck spasms that kept him out of Thursday’s game in Chicago. Reimold woke up early this morning and saw a chiropractor recommended by shortstop J.J. Hardy and he also came in and got treatment from the team’s trainers. Reimold said he had a similar issue last year and you just have to keep getting treatment and wait for the area to calm down. He is feeling a lot better on Friday, which is why he’s starting, and Reimold expected that he would get treatment again post-game to try to prevent the area from locking back up.

*Orioles starter Tommy Hunter is still dealing with lingering discomfort in his left side — a carryover from a back strain he had this spring — although he said Friday that he doesn’t feel anything when on the mound.

“I usually have quite a bit of adrenaline going [on the mound],” he said.  “I’m a big adrenaline guy. I don’t feel much of anything unless it’s a significant, like a tear or something.”

Hunter , who is still getting regular treatment on the area, has struggled in his last two starts to locate his fastball with everything being up in the zone. Asked if his side/back issue could be the reason he’s struggling to get over the top of the ball, Hunter said: “[I] really hope it doesn’t.  [I] definitely have some things lingering around but that’s just an excuse, that’s really all it is. You still got to be able to throw the ball down in the zone, you still have to give your team a chance to win.

Yeah, it doesn’t feel good. But you got to throw. I don’t know how else to say that. I mean, everybody’s got aches and pains here, and that’s life. That’s baseball. You got to find a way to win.”

Hunter said the issue is only on his left side and he admitted it was frustrating to deal with this lingering issue given the work he put into this offseason, shedding about 25 pounds this winter. The 25-year-old threw a bullpen on Friday and said he didn’t “feel it one time” and he was really letting the ball go and throwing full-throttle. Hunter’s next start is Tuesday and he’s eager to put his last two outings –in which he’s allowed six home runs — behind him.

“I’m a little upset, I definitely want to do better than what I’ve been doing,” Hunter said. “I know I’m better than that.  Got to get better, got to win baseball games.

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

Brian Matusz LHP

ANGELS LINEUP
Erick Aybar SS
Howard Kendrick 2B
Albert Pujols 1B
Torii Hunter RF
Mark Trumbo LF
Vernon Wells CF
Kendrys Morales DH
Chris Iannetta C
Alberto Callaspo 3B

Jerome Williams RHP

Johnson wiser, coming into his own

Orioles closer Jim Johnson might not be a marquee name, but the right-hander is well known around the American League, a reputation that stands to grow in his first full season as the O’s ninth-inning man.

“He’s got great stuff,” White Sox veteran Paul Konerko said after Johnson notched his fifth save of the season against Chicago Tuesday night. “Probably some of the most underrated stuff if you ask any hitter in the league. There are a lot of guys you want to face before him. He has a big heavy sinker and a big curve ball. You don’t usually see those two things together.

We’ve known about him. Everybody in the game knows, but my guess is he’ll have a good year and you’ll hear his name more.”

Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale –who spent six seasons in Boston prior to joining Baltimore this season – said Johnson’s pitchability is what made him a guy the Red Sox had difficulty facing, with the right-hander’s multiple weapons a topic of series meetings.

“I think he’s respected among the people you compete with,” Hale said of Johnson who pitched to a 2.22 ERS in his final 56 games last year. “How the media perceives it, he’s not the flavor and the name, but he’s a guy at the back-end of the bullpen that has got stuff to get you out. It’s sinking, he’s got a power fastball, breaking ball, and he pitches well.

Hitters they know about Johnson; it isn’t just the Red Sox.”

Slowed with a back injury this spring, Johnson got progressively better as Spring Training progressed and the 28-year-old –who maintained all throughout camp he would be ready for the season – has gone 6-for-6 in save opportunities to start the season, extending his streak from last year to 14 for his last 14.  It is a far cry from Johnson’s performance in the ninth-inning in 2009, when he went 10-for-16 in save opportunities, his ERA jumping from 2.55 in the eighth to 6.11 in the ninth. The Orioles signed Michael Gonzalez to a two-year deal that offseason and after Kevin Gregg struggled in his first season closing in Baltimore, Johnson was officially named closer to start the season.

“[Being a] little bit wiser helps,” Johnson said when asked what has changed for him since ’09. “Little bit of luck never hurts either. Not anything that’s so different, but I think the experience goes a long way. Failure, you learn through failure, better than you do success.

“Also I have a good support around me, good pitching coach, good catcher, other pitchers, defense behind me, all that plays a factor into it as well.”

The second-longest active tenured Oriole –behind Nick Markakis – Johnson was selected by the Orioles in the fifth round of the 2001 Draft and he made his Major League debut with one start in 2006. He made his first Opening Day roster in 2009 and after missing most of 2010 with injury, Johnson became the Orioles’ most dependable reliever last season. He set career-highs in games (69), wins (6), innings pitched (91) and strikeouts (58) and ranked among the AL leaders in relief innings, wins and groundball percentage.

“If I do what I feel like I’m supposed to be doing, I don’t care if anybody really pays too much attention,” Johnson said of his under-the-radar status. “You can get lost here I think, but that doesn’t really make too much of a difference to me.”

Added Hale: “What happens when he drops 35 saves, because he hasn’t had that opportunity to have a season with 35-40 saves, when he drops that 35-40 saves. It’s like, oh [wow]. You know? It’s not just the Red Sox…this guy’s got very good stuff.”

Orioles @ White Sox

*Nolan Reimold had a neck spasm last night and he came in today with some of it lingering, which is why he’s not in this afternoon’s starting lineup. Otherwise, Reimold —who is arguably the Orioles hottest hitter– would have started.

*Brian Roberts will go with the team to Anaheim tonight, which is a good sign that the second baseman continues to progress back from a concussion without any setbacks. Roberts had originally planned on possibly flying back to Baltimore, but he will be able to get his work in on the West Coast and will remain with the team instead.

*Tsuyoshi Wada made his first rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk and struggled, going just 2 2/3 innings and allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits and four walks. Wada went just 73 pitches –the Orioles had wanted to get him up around the 100-pitch mark– and it’s safe to say he will get at least one more rehab outing at this point.

*Orioles’ affiliate Double-A Bowie announced right-handed pitcher Wynn Pelzer has been released.  Pelzer was acquired in the Miguel Tejada trade with San Diego originally, and signed with Baltimore as a free agent this February.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Endy Chavez LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Nick Johnson DH
Mark Reynolds 3B
Chris Davis 1B
Ronny Paulino C
Robert Andino 2B

Jason Hammel RHP

WHITE SOX LINEUP

Alejandro De Aza CF
Brent Lillibridge 3B
Adam Dunn 1B
Paul Konerko DH
Alex Rios RF
Alexi Ramirez SS
Dayan Viciedo LF
Tyler Flowers C
Eduardo Escobar 2B
Gavin Floyd RHP

Orioles @ White Sox lineups & pregame tidbits

*Nick Markakis is serving at designated hitter tonight, a spot that manager Buck Showlter is moving around. Markakis is struggling at the plate, entering tonight’s game 3-for-35 in his last nine games after starting the season 5-for-7 with a pair of homers. No, Markakis is not hurt. The plan all along was to move around the DH spot and Showalter said he already has a few ideas in mind for tomorrow’s day game.

“Nick’s a tinkerer,” Showalter said, adding that Markakis will be back in rightfield tommorow. “He started off well. Everybody here is going to have periods where they’re not as good as they’re capable of being…If Nick’s our biggest issue here, we’re in real good shape this year. He’ll be fine. We all know the track record and he’ll figure it out.”

*Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts isn’t sure if he will travel with the team to Anaheim or not just yet. Roberts was out on the field early today, around 2:30 p.m., to get his work done with hitting coach Jim Presley and manager Buck Showalter said the team will always make sure Roberts has time to get his work in. Roberts will talk to his doctor later today before making a definitive decision.

*Tsuyoshi Wada will throw in a rehab game for Triple-A Norfolk tomorrow afternoon.

*Some of the biggest outs in last night’s win were picked up by reliever Darren O’Day who tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings. O’Day was one of the final decisions this spring, and I’ll have a full story up on him later on Orioles.com. I realize he’s fairly new to Orioles’ fans, but he’s got a pretty interesting back story that you can read about here.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nolan Reimold LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis DH
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Endy Chavez RF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Chris Davis 1B
Robert Andino 2B

Tommy Hunter RHP

WHITE SOX LINEUP
Alejandro De Aza CF
Brent Morel 3B
Adam Dunn DH
Paul Konerko 1B
A.J. Pierzynski C
Alex Rios RF
Kosuke Fukudome LF
Alexei Ramriez SS
Gorden Beckham 2B

Jake Peavy RHP

Arrieta off to good start

Lost in the shuffle of Monday’s 10-4, 10-inning Orioles’ win was the performance of starter Jake Arrieta, who received a no decision but turned in his third straight solid outing, tying a career-high with 114 pitches thrown along the way.

Arrieta took the hill in the sixth with 65 pitches and only one run, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s solo homer, to his name, but the Orioles defense committed three errors behind him, leading to a pair of unearned runs. The 26-year-old Arrieta struck out seven and was charged with four runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk.

“There was a 8 or 9 inning outing there last night for him, just couldn’t secure the baseball behind us some and elongated some innings,” manager Buck Showalter said on Tuesday afternoon. “[Arrieta has] been solid. I think his command is the first thing that you see that he’s better with the repair work done to his elbow. You can tell he’s freer about attacking the strike zone and knowing where the fastball is going. Because it all works off the fastball.”

Arrieta, who was shut down last August and had a bone spur removed from his right elbow, was a full-go this spring and earned the Orioles’ Opening Day nod, his second consecutive season pitching the home opener. In his first three starts, Arrieta is 1-0 with a 2.66 ERA, allowing only six earned runs on 14 hits and four walks over 20 1/3 innings. Arrieta has also struck out 16 over that span.

O’s Minor Leaguer suspended 50 games

Baltimore Orioles Minor League catcher Michael Ohlman has received a 50-game suspension after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse.

The suspension of Ohlman, who was on the disabled list for the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds, will be effective immediately. Ohlman is the second catcher in the Orioles organization to be suspended for violating the League’s drug prevention program, with Brian Ward serving a 50-game suspension that started at the beginning of the season.

Ohlman was drafted by the Orioles in the 11th round of the 2009 draft out of Lakewood Ranch (Fla.) High School and the 21-year-old spent the 2011 season with Delmarva. He suffered a right shoulder injury this spring from a car accident and was expected to miss substantial time with the injury.

Orioles @ White Sox lineups & pregame tidbits

*Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy made his first home start for Delmarva tonight, pitching three hitless innings. Bundy, who tossed six perfect innings to start his professional debut, put up two more on Tuesday night before issuing a third-inning walk. Bundy has 15 strikeouts in his first nine innings as a pro player and has retired 27 of 28 batters.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the 19-year-old moves up to High-A Frederick very soon, but the Orioles could want Bundy –who is being monitored strictly — to get a few more innings under his belt first. He’s clearly dominating that level of competition right now, and the main emphasis seems to be on making sure Bundy doesn’t get shut down early and goes fairly deep into the Minor League season. The Orioles are building up Bundy to go four-inning starts and than five-inning starts, with the emphasis being on his total innings this season more than pitch count. Bundy hit 98 mph with his fastball tonight, according to reports.

 

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

Wei-Yin Chen LHP

WHITE SOX LINEUP

Alejandro De Aza CF
Brent Morel 3B
Adam Dunn DH
Paul Konerko 1B
A.J. Pierzynski C
Alex Rios RF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Dayan Viciedo LF
Gordon Beckham 2B

John Danks LHP

Os claim catcher

The Orioles announced Tuesday afternoon that they have claimed catcher Luis Exposito on waivers from Boston.

Exposito, 25, is a career .268/.324/.420 hitter in seven minor league seasons in Boston’s farm system.  He was the Red Sox  31st round selection in the 2005 First Year Player Draft. To make room for Exposito on the 40-man roster, infielder Josh Bell has been designated for assignment. The 25-year-old Bell batted .200/.221/.264 in 79 games with the Orioles in 2010 and 2011 and the switch-hitter is currently at Triple-A Norfolk.  Bell was acquired by Baltimore on July 30, 2009 in exchange for left-handed pitcher George Sherrill.

The move will provide organizational depth, with the Orioles incrediby thin at the catching position behind starter Matt Wieters. Ronny Paulino, who arrived to camp three week late, made the club as the backup with catcher Taylor Teagarden currently on the disabled list.

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