July 2012

Thome to DL, Andino activated

The Orioles placed Jim Thome on the 15-day disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game, as an MRI done in Baltimore showed a herniated disk, with infielder Robert Andino activated in his place.

Thome who traveled from New York to Baltimore on Monday, will now go to California to get an epidural from a doctor he is more familiar with from previous injuries.  Thome first felt some discomfort when he woke up Saturday morning and he last played Friday, making him eligible to return August 12. He was on anti-inflammatory medication and had trigger-release treatment earlier in the week, but wasn’t making the progress the team hoped which is why he underwent Tuesday’s MRI.

Acquired in a trade from the Philadelphia Phillies, Thome has hit .261 with two homers and six RBIs in 18 games with the Orioles. Chris Davis has served as the O’s primary DH in his place.

Andino, who has been sidelined with a left shoulder strain, played for Triple-A Norfolk the previous two days with no pain.  He went 3-for-9 with two RBIs, a walk and a run scored, and an error.

The team’s Opening Day second baseman, Andino hit .230 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 79 games before landing on the DL. In his absence, the Orioles traded for infielder Omar Quintanilla, and have used him primarily at second base. Quintanilla got the start again Tuesday.

Orioles make no moves (updated)

NEW YORK– In the end, the Orioles stood their ground.

With several deals being discussing in the hours leading up to Tuesday’s Trade Deadline, including veteran Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton–  executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette stood pat and did not make a move.

Duquette said on a conference call with reporters that he still thought on Tuesday that he would be able to get something done by the non-waiver deadline, with Blanton talks rumored to be very close at various times of the day.

“At this time of team of year, it’s cost of talent, and, cost of adding salaries to your roster,” he said. “Those are the two costs. We had resources set aside on both ends, players that we could trade and money that we could add. It didn’t work.

Sometimes when you have the solutions in house, which I think we do — I think we have significant solutions to some of our issues here already in the organization — my experience is that you need to recognize that. Some teams like some of our young pitching Our job now is to get that young pitching to the point where they can pitch productively for us in Baltimore.”

Duquette made it no secret that the organization was targeting adding to the rotation, but Blanton –who was owed almost $3 million for the season’s last two months — wasn’t enough of an upgrade, and the two sides couldn’t reach common ground on money or prospects.

While Duquette was aggressive in his attempt to acquire a starting pitcher, he acknowledged several times in the days leading up to the Trade Deadline that it was a difficult market, with a lot of teams buying and few selling. The team’s trade chips — beyond top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, who were off the table — simply weren’t enough compared to other organization’s farm systems, and the Orioles were unwilling to part with Arrieta or any other young pitcher.

“The opportunities we looked at had a cost, and I wasn’t convinced that they weren’t a lot better than the people we had in the organization,” Duquette said. “Hence, we weren’t able to make some of the deals we had on the table.”

Instead, Baltimore — which has dealt with an inconsistent starting rotation –will hope that right-hander Jason Hammel (knee surgery) will be able to return in early September and its young starters can step up. Hammel is close to returning to baseball activities and the club remains optimistic he can rejoin the Orioles and provide a boost the final month of the season.

The O’s entered Tuesday two games back for an American League Wild Card spot and 6 1/2 behind the AL East-leading Yankees. Ideally, they’d like to improve their starting pitching, but they will now look to young arms Chris Tillman and Zach Britton to step up. There is also the hope that struggling starters Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz — who were both demoted to Triple-A — can get back on track.

“Hope to get some of these guys off the 60 and the 15 [day disabled list],” manager Buck Showalter said. “We have good options in Norfolk where they are starting to present themselves. That’s where I’m dwelling. I know what you’re asking, but some of the best things you don’t do are the things that aren’t productive for your short-term and long-term success.

Like I told you all along, I don’t think players need to hear me strumming my fingers trying to figure out who’s coming. I have a lot of confidence in the people who are evaluating that.”

While Tuesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, there’s also still a chance Duquette, who has made it clear he wants to win this year, could make a move. If a player on the 40-man roster clears waivers, then any team can work out a deal for him.

“We’re still in contention,” Duquette said. “We’ll be getting some players back to help the team. And I still think we have pretty good depth.

“There will be other opportunities to add to the team. We’ve been adding to the team steadily as the season has come on. We would have liked to have done a deal or two today, but I don’t think we’re done adding to the team.”

In the meantime, the Orioles will go with the same club that got them this far, hoping they can find internal solutions to their problems. Asked if the players in the clubhouse should take the lack of trade activity as a compliment, Showalter said, “They should take it that way. What other way is there to look at it?

You spend some many times coveting somebody else’s players to decide that the solution may be in the own back yard…The biggest thing clubs can do is know their own, know thy self. So not a whole lot changes from that perspective.”

Orioles @ Yankees lineups, O’s stand pat

*The Orioles did not make any moves at this year’s Trade Deadline. Despite engaging in heavy talks for Phillies veteran Joe Blanton the two sides were unable to come up with common ground.  More on that soon on Orioles.com.

*Designated hitter Jim Thome is headed to the disabled list after this morning’s MRI in Baltimore showed a herniated disk. Thome will fly to Caifornia to get an epidural with second baseman Robert Andino activated in his place. Thome would be eligible to come off the DL August 12.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis DH
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Lew Ford LF
Wilson Betemit 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Omar Quintanilla 2B

Chris Tillman RHP

YANKEES LINEUP

Derek Jeter DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher 1B
Raul Ibanez LF
Eric Chavez 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Russell Martin C
Ramiro Pena SS

Ivan Nova RHP

 

O’s, Phils Blanton talks not dead

With the Trade Deadline roughly 90 minutes away, the Orioles and Phillies trade talks have picked back up, according to a Major League source. The two sides reached a stalemate of sorts late last night, with Baltimore unwilling to pick up  all of the approximately $3 million remaining on Blanton’s contract, but things have picked up steam and it appears more likely as the day progresses that Blanton will end up with Baltimore.

While the Phillies were reportedly seeking infielder Jonathan Schoop –the Orioles third-best prospect — that was refuted quickly and it seems if a deal is going to get done it will be with Philadelphia picking up some of Blanton’s salary and getting a much lower, less-impact prospect in return. The Orioles, frustrated by how talks were progressed, checked back in with several other available starters this morning, but Blanton remains the cheapest option player-wise and Baltimore’s farm system lacks the depth necessary to make a lot of other options available.

It’s possible they don’t make any moves at all before the Deadline but if the terms can be agreed on, Blanton would give the Orioles the flexibility to move one of their starters to the bullpen. The Orioles also still want a reliever, and it’s possible they get more than one deal done before this 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Orioles turning attention to other starting pitchers

With talks stalling between the Phillies and the Orioles over Joe Blanton –with money being the biggest issue right now– Baltimore has turned its attention back to other available starters, according to several sources. Unfortunately, there’s not much the Orioles can get with limited trade chips and top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado off the table.

Baltimore does not want to pick up all of the approximately $3 million left on Blanton and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is aggressively scouring the rest of the market to try to make a deal.  They had initial interest in top-tier arms like Zack Greinke –who has since been traded to the Angels– and tried to get Paul Maholm from the Cubs who dealt the lefty to Atlanta for a better package.

The O’s maintain some interest in Arizona’s Joe Saunders, according to a source and have inquired on Seattle’s lefty Jason Vargas in the past. A separate source also indicated they are actively looking on the relief market to possibly flip someone in a second deal. A separate source also indicated they are actively looking on the relief market to possibly flip someone in a second deal.

As of 12:15 ET, nothing is imminent.

The bottom line is there’s not a whole lot out there that the Orioles can get with the trade chips they’re willing to deal, unless teams asking prices fall. But with a big market for starting pitching, that’s unlikely to happen. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is today at 4 p.m. ET.

Money may deter Blanton deal

With Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline just hours away, the Phillies and Orioles have been unable to find common ground on a deal that would send right-hander Joe Blanton to Baltimore. Money is the roadblock, and it might prevent the trade from happening.

Blanton, who becomes a free agent after the season, is owed about $3 million the remainder of the year. The Orioles would like the Phillies to pay some of that, but the Phillies would like a better prospect in return if they do.

Baltimore, however, is unwilling to give up an impact player for a rental, so the Phillies have cooled on the idea of a trade because it makes little sense for them to trade Blanton while paying much of his salary and getting little in return.

“He’s there if they want him,” a source said of Blanton’s availability to the O’s, who have executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette actively pursuing all available starting pitching options.

Blanton has been heavily scouted by the Orioles while going 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his past three starts, pitching at least six innings in 10 consecutive games.

Acquiring Blanton could help stabilize a rotation that has been woefully inconsistent. The Orioles are without their best starter, right-hander Jason Hammel, probably until September. Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz, both of whom were in the Opening Day rotation, are currently in Triple-A after prolonged struggles at the Major League level.

The asking price for Blanton is less than other available arms, and the O’s — who are telling teams that top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table — don’t have a lot of other trade chips in a market where numerous clubs are seeking starting pitching.

Blanton is 8-9 with a 4.59 ERA in 20 starts. The right-hander is susceptible to the long ball, having allowed 22 homers, but he has one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in the Majors at 115-18.

Orioles @ Yankees lineups and pregame notes (updated)

Greetings from New York, where the Orioles will open a three-game series against the New York Yankees. With the Trade Deadline about 24 hours away, there’s lot of rumors out there, including the Orioles’ interest in Joe Blanton, which I wrote about here. All I know as of 4:30 ET is they’re close, but NOTHING is done yet. I’m working to find out if anything is imminent between the two clubs.

The O’s have also shown some interest in Hunter Pence, and –according to the Baltimore Sun– they’ve inquired about Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre.  As a reminder, all your baseball trade rumors can be found on MLB’s Trade Buzz Blog here. I’ll keep you posted on the O’s rumblings as best I can.

*Jim Thome is headed back to Baltimore  for an MRI as the designated hitter continues to be dealing with neck spasms that aren’t getting any better.

“Usually, after a couple days it will start calming down, but it really hasn’t done that,” said Thome, who last played Friday. “We kind of made a decision that maybe the best thing to do is get a look and see what we’re dealing with and then from there decide a course of action with treatments and if anything else needs to be done.”

Thome, who woke up on Saturday with discomfort worse than he’s ever had in that area before, has been on anti-inflammatory medication the last few days to try to calm the area down and also had trigger-point treatment and a Cortisone injection yesterday. But it isn’t responding as quickly as hoped and the team wants to get a better idea what they are dealing with.  Thome’s MRI is Tuesday and leaves the Orioles with a short bench tonight.

Asked if he remains optimistic, Thome replied, “Yeah, you always have to be. I think this is more of a, ‘Let’s find out if there’s anything in there that’s wrong,’ then, ‘Oh, there’s something really bad.’ I don’t know. I just know the discomfort I’m having, and I think the best thing moving forward with the short amount of time, I want to get back as quick as I can, and that’s the reason we’re going to do that tomorrow.”

*Robert Andino came through last night’s game for Triple-A Norfolk with good reports, going 1-for-5 with a single and playing the full nine innings, and he could be activated for the Orioles tomorrow. Manager Buck Showalter said Triple-A manager Ron Johnson asked Andino if he wanted to come out of the game, but the second baseman said no. Andino reported some soreness this morning –which is normal given that he hasn’t played in a few weeks — but otherwise was fine. He will play again tonight for Norfolk.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis DH
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Lew Ford LF
Wilson Betemit 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Omar Quintanilla 2B

Miguel Gonzalez RHP
YANKEES LINEUP
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher DH
Raul Ibanez LF
Eric Chavez SS
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Ian Stewart 2

Ivan Nova RHP

Blanton there if Orioles want him

The Phillies have made it clear that Joe Blanton is available in a potential trade, and the Orioles –who have shown by far the most interest in the right-hander—are weighing whether the veteran Blanton is worth taking a flier on, multiple sources told MLB.com Monday.

“He’s there if they want him,” a source said of Blanton’s availability to the Orioles, who have actively pursued all available starting pitching options under executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette.

But, so far, that search has come up dry and Baltimore’s best option may be Blanton. The 31-year-old has been heavily scouted by the Orioles and has gone 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his last three starts, pitching at least six innings in 10 consecutive games.

Acquiring Blanton could help stabilize an Orioles rotation that has been woefully inconsistent. The Orioles are without their best starter, right-hander Jason Hammel, probably until September and Opening Day rotation arms Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz are currently in Triple-A after prolonged struggles at the Major League level.

The asking price for Blanton is less than other available arms and the Orioles –who are telling teams top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table – don’t have a lot of other trade chips in a market where numerous clubs are also seeking starting pitching.

The Phillies wouldn’t just give away Blanton, however, with one source saying the team would want a Major League-ready utility player or a prospect who could be a viable middle reliever. Duquette told MLB.com Friday that the club has received the most interest in its pitching depth, and the Orioles could certainly trade some of their bullpen arms, in the Major or Minor Leagues, if they decide on Blanton.

But how much of an upgrade would he be, and would Duquette be willing to trade for a pitcher who is only signed through this season?  Blanton, who will be a free agent next year, is 8-9 with a 4.59 ERA in 20 starts. He has allowed 141 hits, 74 runs, 68 of were earned, over 133 1/3 innings. He is susceptible to the long ball, having allowed 22 homers but has one of the best walk-to-strikeout ratios in the Majors, with 115 strikeouts against 18 walks.

Signed to a three-year extension January 21, 2010, Blanton is making $8.5 million this season and the Orioles would presumably be on the hook for two months of that figure. The Cardinals and Blue Jays have also expressed interest in Blanton, according to an industry source, but the Orioles are “by far” the most interested team.

Roberts could need only two rehab games

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will begin a rehab assignment for short-season Class A Aberdeen on Saturday night as he tries to avoid surgery to repair a labral tear in his right hip. The assignment –which is a maximum of 20 days for position players — could be as short as two days, according to manager Buck Showalter.

“The length [of his rehab assignment] would only come into play if he would have had to have surgery,” Showalter said of Roberts, who will likely need the procedure but is hoping to play through the injury until the offseason.

“There’s a different level down there [in extended spring] there’s a different level in Aberdeen than up here. So we will take all the things that we can take in, and I think Brian will be honest with us. He knows what it takes to play here. Would obviously be a nice addition to get him and Robert Andino back.”

The plan is for Roberts to play Saturday and Sunday — getting a minimum of three at-bats Saturday– and the expectation is he will play close to, if not all, of the game.

“I don’t think there’s a limitation,” Showalter said. “Because if there is then that probably doesn’t tell you anything you want to know.”

The 34-year-old Roberts had been working out at the team’s spring facility in Sarasota, Fla., and met with Showalter in his office in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon before heading to Aberdeen. Roberts has played in just 17 games this season, making his season debut on June 12 after being activated from the 60-day disabled list following a concussion. It was a triumphant return — he went 3-for-4 with an RBI in his first Major League game since May 16, 2011. But he struggled to keep up that momentum, hitting the DL — with what was originally deemed to be a groin strain — with a .182 batting average, five RBIs and two runs scored.

Asked what Roberts’ return would do for Nick Markakis in the leadoff role –a spot Markakis has flourished in – Showalter declined to answer until the second baseman returns.

“He’s obviously had the most experience,” Showalter said. “And like I’ve said, Nick is capable of hitting anywhere in the order in my mind where Brian is not.”

It’s a decision Showalter hopes to make soon. With Andino slated to start a rehab assignment Sunday –and a possible return as early as Tuesday—adding Roberts would further bolster a depleted Orioles infield.

“Brian basically is saying I want to come help the club now, if I can manage this and get through it,” Showalter said.  “If it’s just a matter of tolerating if it’s just discomfort he’s in. But, if it’s something he can’t function with at all, then he will proceed with the surgery.”

Orioles vs. A’s lineups and pregame notes

Lots of pregame notes today..

*Brian Roberts is starting a rehab assignment tonight with short-season Aberdeen and will get a minimum of three at-bats and play at least tonight and Sunday. Manager Buck Showalter said Roberts –who has a labral tear in his right hip — could be need as little as two games before being activated. Obviously, that’s getting way ahead at this stage of Roberts’ rehab. But he has been working out at the team’s complex in Sarasota, Fla. and the hope remains that he can at least delay surgery until the offseason. It’s unlikely, according to Showalter, that Roberts could avoid surgery altogether at this point.

*Matt Wieters is out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game although he said his right bicep feels “a lot better” and he will take some swings to test things this afternoon. Wieters –who is available today — also said he expected to play tomorrow although manager Buck Showalter didn’t want to jump the gun and pencil him in for Sunday just yet.

*Jim Thome is not in tonight’s lineup and is dealing with neck spasms. Thome — who had a back injury earlier this season — is scheduled to be examined further by the team doctors today and Showalter said he was just alerted to the issue, but acknowledged it could have been something Thome has been playing with.

*The Astros have claimed infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce off waivers from Baltimore.  The 29-year-old Pearce played in 28 games this year for the Orioles, hitting .254 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 71 at-bats.  Pearce was flying to Houston on Saturday night and could be activated prior to Sunday’s game against the Pirates.

*Robert Andino (left shoulder strain) confirmed he will start a rehab assignment for Triple-A Norfolk tommorow, and he will play at least two games with the target date for his return as early as Tuesay. Andino, who has never been on the DL, admitted Saturday he doesn’t know what to do with himself and has been working hard to be ahead of schedule.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis DH
Adam Jones CF
Wilson Betemit 3B
Endy Chavez LF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Omar Quintanilla 2B
Taylor Teagarden C

Tommy Hunter SP

ATHLETICS LINEUP

Coco Crisp CF
Jemile Weeks 2B
Seth Smith RF
Yoenis Cespedes LF
Chris Carter DH
Brandon Moss 1B
Branon Inge 3B
Kurt Suzuki C
Eric Sogard SS

Bartolo Colon RHP

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