April 2012

Orioles @ Blue Jays lineups and pregame notes

Greetings from Toronto, where the Orioles will play their first road game of the 2012 season. They’ve got three here against the Blue Jays, four against the Chicago White Sox and finish the trip with a weekend set against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

*Before they got on the plane to head north, some of the Orioles visited the Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore to check out the exhibits. It was mandatory for some of the newer players, but some guys volunteered to go as well. Here’s a video link to watch what went on.

*Second baseman Brian Roberts is with the team and is taking some pregame batting practice. Roberts will travel to Chicago as well, although Anaheim is still undecided. It won’t be because it’s too much, he said it just depends on if he will be able to get his work in given the quick turnaround of the weekend game. Roberts was particularly good spirits today –you can tell he’s excited to be with the team on the road — and will continue to watch the games from the dugout. Manager Buck Showalter said he’s kind of become like another coach, and I’ll have more on Roberts’ efforts helpings his teammates up later on Orioles.com.

*Ryan Flaherty is not in tonight’s lineup, but will start one of the next two games in Toronto, according to Showalter. The O’s manager said he had always planned on Flaherty kind of acclimating to his first big league team the first few days and have him make his debut on the first road trip. Flaherty entered Saturday’s game as a defensive replacement at third base, but did not get an at-bat. No word yet on where the versatile Flaherty will play.

*Speaking of new positions, Showalter mentioned today that he was going to have Mark Reynolds take some balls at first base and get some work in there with third coach DeMarlo Hale. That’s interesting for two reasons. One, Showalter has said in the past he has just wanted Reynolds to concentrate on third base, where he’s struggled so far this year. And two, it means that the team is at least exploring the idea of putting Reynolds over at first base and someone else at third. Reynolds is penciled in at designated hitter for today’s game.

*Reliever Matt Lindstrom was unavailable on Wednesday night because of  a back spasm, and Showalter wanted to stay away from him. Lindstrom has been receiving treatment on the area regularly and he said today he’s been dealing some lower back discomfort but downplayed the seriousness of the issue. Lindstrom said he did not make himself unavailable on Tuesday, and this is an issue he deals with at some point every year. He did say Friday that the area felt much better.

*The Orioles’ game notes have Jake Arrieta starting Monday and Wei-Yin Chen on Tuesday, which gives Chen another day of rest and breaks up the team’s two lefties since Brian Matusz starts Sunday. Showalter said that’s an option the team is mulling over and will depend on the health of the bullpen.

Here are your lineups…

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

RHP Tommy Hunter

TORONTO LINEUP
Yunel Escobar SS
Kelly JOhnson 2B
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind 1B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Eric Thames LF
Brett Lawrie 3B
Colby Rasmus CF
J.P. Arencibia C

Brandon Morror RHP

A couple off day thoughts and notes

*I’m flying to Canada shortly to start the first three-city 10 game, roadtrip of the year, but wanted to pass along a few notes following the Orioles’ series sweep by the Yankees…

*It’s been said a million times, but it starts with starting pitching and it usually ends there as well. It’s no coincidence that the Orioles won their first three games when the starters went at least seven innings, and struggled after a pair of shorter starts from Brian Matusz and Wei-Yin Chen taxed the bullpen. Of course, it would’ve been easier to cover those innings if the Orioles had a long man. Instead, manager Buck Showalter had to use a bunch of one-inning relievers for an inning-plus, to get by Monday and Tuesday (which went to extra innings) and by the time Wednesday rolled around, the ‘pen was in pretty dire straits.

Starter Jason Hammel was held out of his workday for use in an emergency and while Arrieta went 6 2/3 innings, Showalter wanted to stay away from Pedro Strop and Troy Patton –saving Jim Johnson only if there was a save situation — and Matt Lindstrom’s back tightened up and he wasn’t available.

I know Kevin Gregg has his critics, but he is always willing to take the ball. I think it’s fair to say that using him for a second inning –and Nick Swisher homering off his 34th pitch — was more a function of necessity than preference, something Showalter agreed with last night. There were a lot of factors in the extra-innings loss, and Gregg was certainly one of them. He just wasn’t the only one.

Here’s what Adam Jones, who struck with the bases-loaded, had to say about his part in the O’s loss.

“Oh my God. I’m still thinking about that now,” Jones said to reporters after the game.  “I’m texting my brother about it. Just over-swinging. I need to stay shorter. Somebody told me: ‘Stop trying to hit the ball to San Diego. Just put the ball in play.’ That’s true. I just need to put the ball in play and make the defense make a play.”

Jones said he wasn’t surprised that Yankees setup man Rafael Soriano intentionally walked Nick Markakis to get to him.

“Righty-righty, sets you up,” Jones said. “I just didn’t come through for my team.”*In case you missed it, top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was really, really good (again) in his second pro start. MiLB.com caught up with Bundy, and you can read his comments on the outing here.*Tsuyoshi Wada is scheduled to make his second extended spring outing Saturday and if all goes well he will go out on a rehab assignment next. Wada could be activated April 25 at the earliest. Lefty Zach Britton will play catch today for the first time since receiving PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment in his left shoulder.

*Finally, on an unrelated but still very important note, I encourage you all to check out March for Babies going on at Camden Yards on May 5.  Sports reporter Amber Theoharis, who most of you know from her work with MASN, is taking part for her daughter, Dylan, who was born premature and the event raises funds and awareness so that all babies can be born healthy and with a chance at a full life. If you can’t make the walk, you can visit Amber’s page here and make a donation. Every little bit counts. (Note if that page doesn’t work –it times out occasionally — you can just put into Google “March of dime Dylan Mattea” and the page comes up first in the search engine.)

Orioles vs Yankees

*The Orioles have signed right-handed pitcher Joel Pineiro to a Minor League deal and he reported to Sarasota today. The 33-year-old veteran went 7-7 with a 5.13 ERA for the Angels last season and is expected to be assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. The signing was first reported by the Baltimore Sun.

*Mark Reynolds is back in the lineup after making a key error that led to two unearned runs last night. Manager Buck Showalter said he talked to Reynolds Wednesday afternoon and he thought it was important for him to get right back on the horse.

*The Orioles rotation will stay on turn the second time through. Showalter wanted to make sure Tommy Hunter got through his workday on Tuesday before making any decisions.

*Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy pitched three perfect innings in his second pro start for Delmarva Wednesday night. The 19-year-old Bundy had six strikeouts, including five consecutively, and has now struck out 12 in six scoreless innings.

Here are your lineups…

YANKEES LINEUP
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

CC Sabathia LHP

ORIOLES LINEUP

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

Jake Arrieta RHP

Os unveil new additions to CamdenYards20.com

The Orioles revealed new additions to CamdenYards20.com, the online destination for everything related to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and its 20th anniversary season, on Wednesday. New features include an Interactive Timeline, a fan photo gallery called My Yard, and special 1992 throwback pricing for select games in the Eutaw Street Bleachers.

The Interactive Timeline features a look back at Oriole Park’s 20 years of milestones, complete with videos and photos to chronicle the construction of Camden Yards through Game 162 of last season. The timeline will continue to be updated for fans to view new key moments as they occur.

My Yard is a photo gallery for fans to upload and share their own Camden Yards memories. Fans are encouraged to upload photos of their friends, family and themselves at the ballpark.

For six specially selected games from April to September, the Orioles will also be offering a limited number of Eutaw Street Bleacher seats for the 1992 price of $4.00.  The selected dates are April 27 vs. Oakland, May 7 vs. Texas, July 24 vs. Tampa Bay, August 9 vs. Kansas City, August 27 vs. the White Sox and September 12 vs. Tampa Bay. Fans must purchase online at CamdenYards20.com to take advantage of this limited time offer.

Orioles fans are encouraged to continue to use the hashtag #CamdenYards20 throughout the season to talk about the 20th anniversary of the ballpark on Twitter. CamdenYards20.com aggregates all of the tweets and conversations and displays them on the front page.

Martin accuses Andino of stealing pitch location

Orioles infielder Robert Andino and Yankees catcher Russell Martin exchanged heated words after the ninth inning ended in Monday’s 6-2 O’s loss. The exchange was brought about because Martin accused Andino, who had a one-out double, of  stealing signs from second base. Andino, who was not available for comment in the Orioles’ clubhouse, took offense took to Martin’s words, which centered on him stealing the location of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera’s pitches.

Martin didn’t directly answer what went on and Yankees manager Joe Girardi dismissed the tiff as that “boys were being boys,” although players from both sides confirmed that pitch-stealing was indeed the root of the argument.

“I don’t remember what happened at the end there,” Martin sad. “A little yapping session towards the end. Nothing crazy.”

Martin did admit that he spoke first in the exchange and said he has never had an issue with Andino before Monday night. Asked if that would be any carry over into Tuesday, Martin said:  “Maybe it’ll make it more exciting, I don’t know…I can’t predict the future. It’s fun. It’s baseball, there’s emotions flying and stuff. What else can I say?”

This is the first time Martin has gotten into a public argument over sign-stealing with an individual player. Last July in Toronto he was upset that the Blue Jays appeared to be stealing signs and tipping pitches and spoke publicly about the issue.

All Martin would say Monday, however was that maybe Andino didn’t like the look he gave him.

“I think he was inviting me to a sparring session next offseason,” Martin joked. “I don’t know. I’ll get his number. We’ll talk it over later.”

Orioles vs Yankees lineups and pregame tidbits

*Tsuyoshi Wada (left elbow discomfort) threw six innings in extended spring this afternoon, going 88 pitches in an outing that reportedly went well. Manager Buck Showalter said Wada get better as he went along and was particularly sharp in the sixth. He will pitch again on Saturday in Port Charlotte. The plan is for Wada to go on rehab assignment and pitch for an affiliate after that. Showalter reiterated on Monday that Wada will get at least two more starts before being activated from the disabled list, so there’s no decision around the corner on that.

*Zach Britton will pick up a baseball for the first time on Thursday since receiving PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment last month.  Britton has been doing shoulder rehab work down in extended spring and the plan is for him to play light catch.

YANKEES LINEUP

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Andruw Jones LF
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez 3B

Ivan Nova RHP

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

Brian Matusz LHP

Opening Day weekend thoughts

*The Orioles improved to 3-0 after Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Twins, marking the second consecutive season they’ve opened 3-0. It’s the first time they’ve posted back-to-back 3-0 starts since 1996 & ’97.  Manager Buck Showalter has been quick to point out that the team pitched well last April and we all know what happened there.

So, what does he take out of these three games and the stellar performances of Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Jason Hammel?

“I’d much rather be going that way than some other way,” Showalter said. “You’re hoping Jake graduates a little bit and you’re hoping Tommy Hunter does, too, because he’s only 26, 25, whatever it is. Jason Hammel’s 29 years old. He’s still trying to really establish himself, and he is compared to the rest of our guys. Seen a lot in the past where some adversity kind of sets in and people look for some help. That wasn’t the case with Jason at all. He didn’t look over in the dugout or bullpen one time.”

*Hammel has made significant strides mentally as well as in his mechanics, working this spring with pitching coach Rick Adair on his posture and an improved two-seam fastball, which had some serious sink on Sunday afternoon. Adair said Hammel reminded him of Doug Fister, although Hammel throws harder,  and so he’s been working on some of the things he did with Fister in Seattle.

“There are some other things he’s done,” Adair said of Hammel’s adjustments this spring. “He’s gotten the ability to get on top of the ball a little bit easier now. Going to the two-seamer after everything else he’s done, it worked out, so he’s pretty excited about it.”

*Brian Roberts is still on the disabled list, but he’s been helping his teammates get a jump on the basepaths.

Working with a 1-0 lead, the Orioles added a pair of runs in the sixth courtesy of Wilson Betemit’s two-run double. The O’s put runners on first and second with one out, thanks to Adam Jones’ single and Nick Johnson’s hit by pitch, and the pair pulled off a double-steal with reliever Matt Maloney on the hill to set the table for Betemit.

“Brian Roberts, the contribution he’s made, he’s been working with some of our guys, two or three of them, [on] some of the methods that have made him so prolific in stealing bases, and third base,” Showalter said. “I swear if I didn’t know better, the way Robby does it, Adam’s like a copy of it. Robby had a big smile on his face after the game.”

The stolen base was the first for Johnson since July 18, 2009.

*J.J. Hardy’s first-inning homer got the Orioles on the board on Sunday and it was his first this season. Hardy joins Adam Jones, Nick Markakis (2) and Matt Wieters with early-season homers, which is a good sign for the middle-of-the-order.  It will all come down to pitching, but to get the early runs the Orioles have been able to put up the first three games, does wonders for the guy on the mound.

*Next up: The Orioles will welcome the Yankees for a three-game set and a big early-season test for lefty Brian Matusz. You can read more about Matusz’s thoughts regarding last season and heading into Monday here.

It’s hard to say how well the Orioles pitched or hit against a Minnesota team that looks to be in for a long season. The O’s have now won seven straight games against the Twins, outscoring them 39-9 during the streak, which includes a four-game sweep in Minnesota last season. This weekend marked the Orioles first home sweep over Minnesota since August 6-8, 2002. But with American League East foe New York coming to town –fresh off being swept by the Tampa Bay Rays — there should be plenty of interesting storylines to watch develop.

*With saves in both of his first two opportunities, Jim Johnson has successfully converted 10 of his 10, dating back to last season.

*Sunday’s win also puts manager Buck Showalter 12 victories shy of 1,000 wins. He would be the 58th manager in Major League Baseball’s history to reach that mark.

Orioles vs. Twins lineups and pregame tidbits

*Happy Easter!  It’s also my Dad’s birthday, so a special shout-out to him as well. Hopefully everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend.

*Not much news today pregame. Mark Reynolds is not in the lineup after fouling a ball off his left calf in yesterday’s game. Reynolds didn’t have any ice or wrap on the area and said no X-rays were taken and he could have played. But given the team’s depth in having a flexible bench, manager Buck Showalter chose to err on the cautious side.

*Brian Matusz makes his first start of the season against the Yankees on Monday and he didn’t downplay the importance of it this morning.

“It’s definitely a special start,” said Matusz, who went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA last season.  “It’s been a long road this offseason, this spring to be able to fight back, to being able to make the team and then do that, pitching the way I know how to pitch. I’m excited to go out there and just pitch the game I love to play and just get back out there again.”

Asked how he reflects on last year, Matusz said, it’s a fresh season.

“I don’t even remember last year,” he said. “I’ve totally cleared it out of my mind and my focus is starting with a clean slate here and to get off on a good start.”

*I’ll have full Matusz and Reynolds stories up later on Orioles.com, where you can also follow along with today’s game on MLB.TV if you are out of market. If you haven’t gotten MLB.TV, I highly recommend it for avid baseball games. It’s the best way to stay on top of all the action around the League.

Finally, here are your lineups…

TWINS LINEUP
Denard Span CF
Jamie Carroll SS
Joe Mauer 1B
Justin Morneau DH
Josh Willingham LF
Ryan Doumit C
Sean Burroughs 3B
Luke Hughes 2B
Ben Revere RF

Anthony Swarzak RHP

ORIOLES LINEUP

Endy Chavez LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Nick Johnson DH
Wilson Betemit 3B
Chris Davis 1B
Robert Andino 2B

Jason Hammel RHP

Andino cheered, Gregg booed

Orioles second baseman Robert Andino had a pair of special guests in attendance for Friday’s season-opener, with high school baseball coach Fred Burnside and Laura Harlow, who also worked at Southridge (Fla.) High, both making the trip from the Miami area to Baltimore.

“We went out to dinner yesterday and all that,” said Andino, who credits both Burnside and Harlow with help keeping him on the right track. “[Harlow] was like my second mom.  She calls me her stepson.

For them to be at not just any Opening Day, but an Opening Day that I started, for them to see it, I thought it was pretty cool. I thought they deserved it.”

The 27-year-old Andino –who had a career year in 2011 in Brian Roberts’ absence– received one of the loudest cheers during the Orioles’ pregame introductions on the orange carpet a fact unbeknown to him.

“I didn’t hear anything to be honest with you,” said Andino, who was introduced as an Opening Day starter for the first time in his career. “I was just worried about tripping; I was concentrating on my steps so I wouldn’t trip. I think [manager Buck Showalter] had the loudest one.”

While Showalter’s cheers were deafening, one of the most noticeable introductions was reliever Kevin Gregg, who was heavily booed by the sellout crowd at his home park.

“You never like to see anybody have that, but Kevin is an experienced guy,” Showalter said of Gregg, who converted 22 of 29 saves last year and has been replaced in the closer role by Jim Johnson. “If it was a young guy, you’d feel a little more strongly about it. Our fans, like a lot of places, are waiting to embrace you and to be real positive. And it is up to us to do the things that make them want to embrace us. We control that. And Kevin knows that.”

Orioles vs. Twins lineups and pregame tidbits

*Lefty Tsuyoshi Wada will throw in extended spring on Monday and he will throw again on the 14th. Assuming all goes well, Wada will go out for a rehab assignment with an affiliate on the 19th and manager Buck Showalter said Wada could be activated off the disabled list on the 24th, or earlier. He will get to the 90-pitch mark twice before coming up and Showalter wouldn’t commit to whether Wada would be considered as a reliever or a starter, saying simply “we’ll see.” Obviously, that will largely be a function of how the team’s current starters are performing.

*An interesting lineup for the Orioles today with both catchers in the lineup. Showalter said he wanted to get Johnson and Paulino in the lineup and hopes to work in Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty so that everybody can “get their feet wet”. The club also has a third catcher in an emergency, although Showalter wouldn’t divulge who that was.

*Also, Twins pitcher Liam Hendriks is in the hospital with food poisoning and was scratched from Sunday’s start. Anthony Swarzak will now start tomorrow vs. Orioles.

TWINS LINEUP
Denard Span CF
Jamie Carroll SS
Joe Mauer C
Justin Morneau DH
Josh Willingham LF
Chris Parmelee 1B
Danny Valencia 3B
Ben Revere RF
Alexi Casilla 2B

LHP Francisco Liriano

ORIOLES LINEUP

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

Tommy Hunter RHP

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