May 2012

Orioles vs Royals lineups

*Bill Hall, who was designated for assignment yesterday, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.

*Brian Roberts, who played  three consecutive rehab games at second base, will take today off and play again for Double-A Bowie on Sunday and Monday. Roberts will head to the team’s affiliate in Delmarva and play Tuesday and Wednesday, when the Baysox hit the road. Roberts, who has been limited to just two plate appearances, will get three on Sunday and is expected to get four with Delmarva. Manager Buck Showalter, who was on hand for one of Roberts’ games, said that the second baseman is slowing “getting his clock back” and adjusting back to game-speed.

*Zach Britton will make his first rehab start for Double-A Bowie tonight, with outfielder Endy Chavez and third baseman Mark Reynolds also scheduled to play.

*Adam Jones’ agent Nez Balelo –who was originally scheduled to flight out last night — is still in town and the 26-year-old center fielder had breakfast with him this morning. There’s no news on that front, but the fact that he’s still here probably means discussions are still ongoing.  You can read my story from last night on the Jones situation here.

*Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will make his first start since being promoted to Class-A Advanced Frederick tonight. The 19-year-old Bundy has not allowed an earned run in the first 30 innings of his professional career.

ORIOLES LINEUP

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

Wei-Yin Chen LHP

ROYALS LINEUP

Jarrod Dyson CF
Alcides Escobar SS
Billy Butler DH
Mike Moustakas 3B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Alex Gordon LF
Johnny Giavotella 2B
Eric Hosmer 1B
Humberto Quintero C

Felipe Paulino RHP

Duquette on Jones’ possible contract extension

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette just held court briefly on the Adam Jones contract situation. He didn’t reveal much, but did seems hopeful that a deal could be reached in the “short term” that would keep the center fielder in Baltimore. Here’s what he said.

[on the talks]

“There’s not a lot I can say about it, except I’m encouraged by the fact that Adam wants to stay in Baltimore, we would certainly like him to stay in Baltimore. And hopefully we can work something out here in the short-term.”

[how short term?] “I don’t have a real timeline on these things, but hopefully we can get something done.”

[why the move to talk in-season after Duquette previously shot down the idea this spring?] “My choice is not to talk about contracts during the season, but he’s a unique case.”

[on what kind of ground was made in discussions] “I’m hopeful that we can get something done. I think it would be good, certainly good for the tam and the fans. I’ve said it before, everybody knows Adam Jones is a good player. We like Adam Jones, we like what he does for our ballclub. Plays good defense and hits in the middle of the lineup.  He’s a dependable player, he plays the games.”

We’ve had some productive discussions and hopefully it will lead to a long term deal.

We’ve been working on it. We’ve been working on it for a while.”

[on if this is about Jones’ play or the team winning?] “It’s about Adam Jones.”

Showalter on Jones

Asked how he would feel about Adam Jones getting a contract extension –which has been the main topic in Baltimore today as the two sides are close — manager Buck Showalter said he would just be happy to write Jones’ name in the lineup for a long time.

“I’m proud of the way Adam has gone about his business as far as playing hard and it’s important to Adam that the Orioles do well,” Showalter said. “He’s pretty sincere.

I’ve heard [contract] length, but I haven’t heard dollars, I don’t really care to hear. That’s a heck of commitment by our ownership which is a commitment by our fans too. So we will see…I’m not going to break it down, I’m just going to be  excited to write his name in the lineup.”

Showalter has consistently praised Jones since his arrival for his hard-nosed play and hustle, and the O’s manager endorsed keeping the 26-year-old in Baltimore for the foreseeable future.

“If you can grasp how the game is supposed to be approached from an effort standpoint, a lot of things open up to you,” he said. “There are different risks in everything in life; I think in this case the risk is not doing it. Especially with what he can potentially mean to this city, this fanbase and to his teammates. It’s important.

Adam and I have an open relationship to a fault. We can say about anything to each other and know that there’s a pure heart about it. It’s about the Orioles and what’s best for us. There’s a lot of give and take there, but at the end of the day I think he respects what we are trying to do here.”

Jones has made it no secret that he enjoys playing for Showalter and he prides himself on playing the game the way it was intended.

“Buck treats us like men,” Jones said. “As a man, I think it’s my obligation to the fans, to the city of Baltimore, to the owners, to my teammates, to go out there and give three hours and play my [butt] off. I think that’s the easy part. I think the hardest part is playing the game. [Yankees captain Derek] Jeter told me this numerous times, ‘Don’t ever stop hustling. Don’t ever stop hustling. You hit the ball you got four seconds to get down the line.'”

Orioles vs Royals lineups and pregame notes

Here are your non-Adam Jones pregame notes today…

*The Orioles recalled right-handed reliever Stu Pomeranz and catcher Ronny Paulino from Triple-A Norfolk, optioning catcher Luis Exposito to the Tides and designating infielder/outfielder Bill Hall for assignment to clear room.

Pomeranz has not allowed an earned run in 10 appearances this season with Triple-A Norfolk (five games, 10.0IP) and Double-A Bowie (five games, 13.1IP).  He pitched more than one inning in nine of 10 appearances, striking out 35 and walking three.  Pomeranz made two scoreless appearances (4.0IP, 4H, BB, 3K) for the Orioles earlier this season after having his contract selected on May 7.

Paulino batted .300 (9-30) with three RBI in nine games for the Orioles earlier this season.  He hit .283/.313/.391 in 12 games for Norfolk after being optioned on May 7.Exposito hit .059 (1-17) in eight games with the Orioles after being recalled from the Tides on May 4. Hall batted .286 (2-7) with a solo home run, becoming the 22nd Oriole in franchise history to hit a home run in his first game with Baltimore.  He had his contract selected on May 12.

*Nolan Reimold received his second epidural injection today and is resting at home.

*Mark Reynolds went 1-for-2 with a homer and two walks in an extended spring game this afternoon, and he will head –along with outfielder Endy Chavez — to Double-A Bowie on Saturday to start a rehab assignment. Zach Britton is also scheduled to make his first rehab start for Bowie that game.

*Taylor Teagarden (lower back injury) received a second opinion that was the same diagnosis as the first, and he will head back to extended spring in Sarasota. Reliever Matt Lindstrom (torn right middle finger ligament) is expected to head down to Sarasota to start his rehab in the next day or two.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Robert Andino 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Wilson Betemit 1B
Chris Davis DH
Steve Tolleson 3B
Xavier Avery LF

Jason Hammel RHP

ROYALS LINEUP

Jarrod Dyson CF
Eric Hosmer 1B
Billy Butler Dh
Mike Moustakas 3B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Eric Gordon LF
Brayan Pena C
Irving Falu 2B
Alcides Escobar SS

Bruce Chen LHP

 

Jones on the possibility of a deal

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones did not have a new contract as of Friday afternoon, telling the large group of reporters who circled his locker that he wished he had good news, but he didn’t.

“I wish I had bells and whistles to tell you, trust me I do,” Jones said.  “My agent is in town. He has a flight out of here in a couple of hours. Hopefully, I will have some good news for you, but right now I don’t.

The 26-year-old Jones did confirm that he took a physical on Thursday and was asked about the possibility of remaining an Oriole for a long time.

“It would be cool,” Jones said. “I don’t want to jinx anything.”

He wasn’t sure which side had initiated the last round of contract talks and said he wasn’t worried about the negotiations affecting his on-field play.

“I ‘m not in their offices. I’m in center field in my office,” Jones said. “It’s a pretty cool office to have. It’s an exciting thing, it’s a humbling thing, just the thought of it. It’s not complete so, trust me, my phone has been blowing up. It’s exciting, but I’d rather wait until something is imminent and I could have good news for you guys.

“If this happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I won’t be disappointed because if it does, it was meant to be, if it doesn’t it wasn’t meant to be.”

Jones said he has not spoken with owner Peter Angelos, who was scheduled to meet with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette on Friday, although he expressed a willingness to do so.

“[I] really do want to talk to him about a lot of different things that I have ideas of,” Jones said. See what is the goal. What do we want to do here? If I’m a part of it, I’m a part of it. We’re adults and I do want to meet with him.”

Report: Jones and Orioles close to deal (updated)

The first-place Orioles are  close to signing center fielder Adam Jones to a club-record contract extension, two sources confirmed to MLB.com

Jones’ deal is expected to be six years and in the $85 million range according to FoxSports.com, which first reported that the two sides were deep in negotiations on Friday morning. That contract would easily surpass the two largest deals in franchise history, which include Miguel Tejada’s six-year, $72 million contract signed in December in 2003 and Nick Markakis’ current six-year, $66.1 million extension.

Sources confirmed the two sides are discussing a massive extension, although nothing is on the immediate horizon as of Friday afternoon. One source did confirm that Jones underwent a physical during the team’s off-day Thursday, which is another sign that the extension talks are serious and could be closer than the organization is letting on. It’s team policy to have a completed physical before a long-term deal is finalized.

Reached for comment, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette downplayed the reports that the two sides are on the brink of a deal.

“It’s really not something I talk about during the season, I think the fans and the focus should be on how the team is playing,” Duquette said of Jones’ contract negotiations. “But I can tell you nothing is imminent there.”

Asked if he had changed his stance on negotiating in-season, Duquette reiterated: “It’s not something I talk about. The focus should be on this team.”

The 26-year-old Jones is eligible for free agency after next season and signing him long-term would be a huge boost for an organization trying to show its commitment to winning after 14 consecutive losing seasons. The Orioles are off to their best start in seven season at 28-17 and Jones is hitting .311/.357/.601 with 14 homers and 29 RBIs through  45 games and is making $6.15 million this season.

While Duquette has said that he deemed in-season extension talks a “distraction”, the team’s hot start and the fear that Jones –who is off to his scorching start — would explore free agency at the end of ’12 has pushed talks along further. A fierce competitor, Jones has made it no secret he wants to win and locking him up long-term would certainly help the Orioles’ chances as well as be received with resounding support in the city.

Jones underwent a physical during the team’s off day Thursday, which is another sign that these extension talks are both serious and close. It’s team policy to have a completed physical before any long-term deal, and is generally one of the final steps.

Jones enters Friday’s series with a career-high 15 game hitting streak, the longest such streak by an Oriole this season, and ranks second in the American League in homers and total bases (110). The Orioles’ cleanup hitter, Jones is coming off a 2011 season in which he was named the “Most Valuable Oriole” by members of the local press, setting single-season career highs with 151 games played, 26 doubles, 25 homers, 83 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and 53 extra-base hits.

An All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 2009, Jones was acquired by the Orioles from Seattle along with Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler, a package that sent left-handed starter Erik Bedard to the Mariners. Jones was Seattle’s first-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Morse High School in San Diego, Calif.

****

My take: I’ve mentioned this a few times on the radio and when people asked on Twitter, but –to me– this is the best way to handle the Jones situation. If the Orioles had waited until this winter, I think you would have seen Jones tempted by free agency being a year away. Obviously nothing has been agreed upon, but executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette felt it was important enough to go against his policy of negotiating in-season, which he previously called a distraction.

But every time Jones homers or makes a nice play, it becomes even more of a distraction as fans are clamoring for the organization to lock him up long term. Jones wants to win as much –if not more — than any other player in that clubhouse. The perception that he wants to go back home to the West Coast to play was greatly exaggerated and one I always thought would be trumped if he felt the Orioles had a chance to win soon.  Jones is one of manager Buck Showalter’s favorite players for the way he gives it 100 percent every single day, and his transformation this year to more of a mature, stabilizing force has been fun to watch.

Again, nothing has been signed or agreed upon. But it looks like the two sides are close enough that there could be an announcement over the weekend, and there would have to be a complete breakdown for talks to dissipate. Stay tuned.

O’s agree to terms with Romero

The Orioles have agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with veteran reliever J.C. Romero, the club announced on Thursday, and Romero is expected to report to Triple-A Norfolk.

The 35-year-old lefty was released by the St. Louis Cardinals last week after posting a 10.13 ERA in eight innings spread over 11 games. Romero struggled mightily, particularly in his last three outings, giving up six hits, nine earned runs and two home runs while recording only four outs.

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Tuesday that the club was still actively seeking ways to upgrade and add depth to the pitching staff, and Romero fills a need being a lefty reliever –right now they can stash below — to go with Zach Phillips. The O’s bullpen currently has two lefties in Troy Patton and Dana Eveland.

Romero previously pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies from 2007-11 and posted a combined 2.73 ERA along with notable postseason success in ’08. He was suspended for the first 50 games of 2009 for taking a banned supplement, and was released by the Phillies in 2011. Romero then latched on with Minor League deals for the Washington Nationals, New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies –where he pitched to a 4.32 ERA in 11 big league games —before making the Cardinals club this spring. In 14 Major League seasons, Romero is 34-28 with a 4.15 ERA.

Showalter: ‘You’ve created a semi-monster here. And the feeling should be, bring it on’

I recently sat down with manager Buck Showalter for a story on his time in Baltimore, which you can read here on Orioles.com, and wanted to pass along a quote that really struck me as interesting. Asked about his team’s hot start and the shift in culture and expectations for a first-place club, Showalter –who challenged his team to raise the bar this spring –is well aware of the huge task that lies ahead.

“We have a lot of people involved here who have a stake in the Orioles doing well,” Showalter said. “There’s a connection to the town and the city and the people and the struggles. There’s a burn there, but it’s challenging as well. We’ve got three-fourths of the season left.

I told them, you create this, you do this completely out of what their expectations are, and now what if it goes a little the other way? They go the other way. I said, ‘You don’t get a marker for this. You don’t get a marker for this effort’. It’s not “You are exceeding expectations early, so we will give you this.” No, you created a semi-monster here. And the feeling should be, ‘Bring it on’.”

I’m curious as to how much the Orioles’ expectations have changed among fans. The longer this Orioles’ team remains competitive, does the bar continue to rise? Would a .500 season now be a massive disappointment?

The clubhouse expectations have certainly changed this season. This year’s roster is littered with players who have won with other organizations, and those who are tired of being the American League East’s doormat. Every loss is met with sincere anger and disappointment — not the under-the-breath jokes and hushed giggles of clubhouses past – and every issue has been confronted head on, as Showalter likes to point out. He made it a point to remove any coaches, bullpen catchers, or other assistants out of the home clubhouse, leaving only the players to bond together and police themselves during the ups and downs of a 162-game season.

“With other [Oriole] teams, it was ‘OK, it’s good if we come close to .500,’”  closer Jim Johnson said of an organization that hasn’t had a winning season since 1997. “That’s not what the goal is here. Guys put the work in, guys are expected to perform at a certain level. The expectations have been raised, starting with the manager.

That’s the way [Showalter] does it. You got to have guys respond. It’s fight or flight.  So, the people that want to stick around and fight are still here.”

“He’s puts us in line,” centerfielder Adam Jones said of Showalter.  “He’s kept up in the Minor League system, we have a lot of depth that we haven’t had the last few years here. I’m not saying everything is golden but you can just see the effort by him and [executive vice president of baseball operations] Dan Duquette and it starts obviously by getting the ownerships approval. Everything they do, it starts at the top. They understand the importance of winning and getting this city back.

This city is a baseball city. You get us and the [Baltimore] Ravens being good, I know we would outdo the Ravens. But we aren’t trying to outdo the Ravens. We are just trying to be on the same level. It’s a great city with two teams that are successful. You see the Phillies, both teams are successful, Boston both teams have success, new York, their teams are successful. We don’t want to be on the back burner anymore.”

Showalter, who turned 56 on Wednesday, is 131-133 since taking over in August 2010 and his fingerprints are everywhere in an organization that is trying to establish continuity at all levels and expect nothing but excellent.

“Oh, I see after they lose a game. they’re pissed, and it’s sincere,” Showalter said of his club. “There’s a lot of false competitiveness but this is a sincere team. They are sincere about competing. And they ain’t going to be happy about losing. And they will identify the problem and if it in the mirror, they will fix it.

I want them to be themselves, but I want them to fit in the realm of what’s best for the team. I’m not trying to make a bunch of robot guys, but there are certain things that have to fit in the scheme of a team and winning the game. nobody has put themselves above the team here. 90 percent of the stuff I don’t have to deal with, because they deal with it themselves in the locker room.”

Every team Showalter has managed has made significant strides in his second full season at the helm, and while he’s the last to admit it, he deserves a portion of credit for the O’s 28-17 start.

“[He deserves] a lot of it,” shortstop J.J. Hardy said.  “You can’t put a number on it. this clubhouse has 25 guys, we’ve had some injuries, we’ve had some depth that has kept us going. But he’s just as much a part of it as we all are.”

Added Johnson: “A lot of it has been him. But a lot of it has been the guys that are in here. Obviously without him we wouldn’t be where we are. So, yeah [the team’s record] is a direct reflection of the manager.”

“It’s the coaching staff, too,” Jones said of the group Showalter brought in which includes pitching coach Rick Adair, hitting coach Jim Presley, bench coach John Russell, third base coach DeMarlo Hale and first base coach Wayne Kirby . “We got some great coaches. The thing about the coaches is they understand the game completely. They offer their feedback, but they’re going to get on you. They aren’t going to pamper you. And you need that. …everybody is loose and our coaching staff is a big part of that. They are a big part of the cheering that goes on the bench. They are pulling for everybody. We are like one big family. As a team you got to pull for every single person on the team. This is 25, this is what you got.”

Bundy promoted

Dylan Bundy has been promoted to Class-A Advanced Frederick and will make his first start on Saturday versus Salem. Bundy, the organization’s top pitching prospect, hasn’t allowed an earned run in 30 innings for Low-A Delmarva to start his professional career and has dominated hitters at that level.

He has allowed two unearned runs on five hits and two walks with 40 strikeouts and was expected to move up just one level, as the Orioles are using patience in handling the 19-year-old phenom.

“What’s important are the skills he develops to become a Major League pitcher,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said of Bundy, who will stay in the 125-130 innings range in his first pro season.

“He can get players out because he has an exceptional fastball…we want him to get where he needs to be to be a Major League pitcher, and that means working on changing speeds and his breaking pitches.”

Duquette also said on Tuesday that director of pitching development Rick Peterson has likened Bundy’s first taste of pro ball to his “freshman year”, a thinking that supports the organization’s slow-moving plans for the young righty. Bundy has been part of a six-man rotation to better spread out his starts, and that will be the case again in Frederick despite pitcher Mike Wright being promoted to Double-A Bowie.

Bundy –the O’s top pick last year– made his final start for Delmarva on Sunday, and you can read more about that outing here.

Orioles vs. Red Sox pregame notes and lineups

*Jason Hammel will get the start on Friday, followed by Wei-Yin Chen on Saturday and Brian Matusz on Sunday. That schedule gives Hammel an extra day to rest his sore right knee and gives Chen an extra day as he adjusts to the Major League schedule. Matusz will pitch on regular rest Sunday, with the intention of keeping him in the rhythm that led to a career performance on Tuesday. Showalter wouldn’t say he’s confident that Hammel’s knee won’t be an issue going forward, but did say the team was trying to keep him fresh with the extra day and training underwater and using an elliptical. The O’s didn’t give much thought to pushing Hammel back even farther in the rotation, as that would create an even greater rotation shuffle given the off days coming up on May 31 and June 4.

*Britton had a successful work day on Wednesday and is still scheduled to pitch Saturday for Double-A Bowie before traveling with the Baysox to Akron on May 31, at which point he could be activated.

*Matt Lindstrom still has some tenderness related to the partial ligament tear in his right middle finger, but he’s been feeling better, Showalter said. Lindstrom will head to Sarasota, Fla., to rehab once he has some success throwing the ball.

*Rehab assignments have not yet been set up for Mark Reynolds and Endy Chavez, who are both in Sarasota, Fla., recovering from strained oblique muscles. Showalter said Reynolds is still a day or two ahead of Chavez in the recovery process.

*Showalter seemed excited for Thursday’s off day, calling it the first off day without travel since spring training. Showalter held both J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters out of the lineup Wednesday so that they would be able to take two consecutive off days. Hardy has been nursing a sore shoulder, while Wieters is dealing with the regular nicks that accumulate for a Major League catcher.

*Lastly, a happy birthday shout out to manager Buck Showalter, who turned 56 on Wednesday!

ORIOLES LINEUP
Xavier Avery LF
Robert Andino SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Wilson Betemit 3B
Nick Johnson DH
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Luis Exposito C

Jake Arrieta RHP

RED SOX LINEUP

Mike Aviles SS
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Gonzalez RF
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Daniel Nava LF
Scott Podsednik CF
Kelly Shoppach C

Daniel Bard RHP

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