July 2012

Orioles vs Tigers, Palmer ceremony

*The Orioles official reinstated Taylor Teagarden from the disabled list, and have outrighted Ronny Paulino to Triple-A Norfolk. Paulino –who already cleared waivers — can elect free agency instead of the assignment and he said he would take a few days to talk things over with his agent before deciding what avenue to take.

Teagarden, who has not played this season yet, caught yesterday for Class-A Delmarva and is expected to be behind the plate for Sunday’s finale.

*Speaking of Sunday, Miguel Gonzalez will now pitch that game instead of Chris Tillman. Tillman was dealing with a back spasm earlier this week and while manager Buck Showalter said it was a minor issue, the team wants to be on the safe side and give him an extra day. Tillman will pitch Monday’s game with Zach Britton slated to make his first start of the season for the O’s on Tuesday.

It’s been speculated that it would be Britton for a while, and with the Orioles designating Dana Eveland prior to today’s game –to purchase the contract of Miguel Socolovich — it’s now pretty much a certainty. Eveland is now on waivers and the team will find out on Monday if he clears. He has already cleared waivers once this year, at the end of Spring Training, and if he does he is expected to accept an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk. He could refuse, but would forfeit a pretty significant chunk of his salary in doing so.

Socolovich has pitched to a 1.77 ERA in 24 games for Triple-A Norfolk and will been making his Major League debut. The right-hander has allowed 11 runs (nine earned) on 29 hits and 11 walks over 45 2/3 innings, totaling 50 strikeouts in an impressive run for the Tides. He could be used as the team’s long reliever for now, although Showalter hasn’t really been one to have defined roles for most of his bullpen.

*Jason Hammel had an MRI on his right knee on Saturday afternoon and the team is hoping to get word on it before today’s game. If Hammel can’t go, Brian Matusz –who is fresh off a complete-game shutout for Norfolk– seems to be the most likely candidate to make Hammel’s next start on Wednesday.  Matusz is slated to start Sunday for Norfolk, so obviously whether he makes that start or not will depend on the news coming out of Hammel’s test results.

*Since today’s game is on FOX and not available on MASN, a lot of people have asked about the Jim Palmer ceremony and statue unveiling which begins at 2:15 p.m. ET. You can watch that live  on Orioles.com, which will be streaming the ceremony from Camden Yards here.

ORIOLES LINEUP

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

Wei-Yin Chen LHP

TIGERS LINEUP

Austin Jackson CF
Ramon Santiago 2B
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Prince Fielder 1B
Delmon Young DH
Jhonny Peralta SS
Ryan Raburn RF
Gerald Laird C
Quintin Berry LF

Max Scherzer RHP

Hammel exits with right knee injury

Jason Hammel exited early from Friday’s start against the Tigers in the top of the fourth inning when he appeared to injure his right knee on a pitch to Brennan Boesch. The Orioles announced he would be reevaluated further on Saturday.

Hammel, who had his right knee drained on Sunday, hopped up and grimaced after throwing a ball on a 1-2 pitch to the Detroit right fielder. Manager Buck Showalter and the training staff immediately came out to check on Hammel, who initially looked as if he had hurt his left knee. They spoke with him for a few minutes, and Hammel tried to throw a few practice pitches, but they decided to pull Hammel at that point and he walked off without help.

This could cause more problems for a Baltimore pitching staff that’s been hurting in recent weeks. Hammel already had to deal with problems in his right knee earlier this season, working his way through soreness. If Hammel’s out, it would hurt the Orioles, as he’s been the team’s top starter this year. He was one of the five finalists for the last spot on the American League All-Star team and came into this game with a record of 8-5 and a 3.47 ERA.

 

Orioles sign Gausman (updated)

Twenty-one-year-old pitcher Kevin Gausman tugged at the brand-new white uniform he had on –with Orioles etched across the front – and needed only a few words to put Baltimore fans at ease.

“This is comfortable,” said Gausman, fresh off his introductory press conference after agreeing to a deal that netted him a $4.32 million signing bonus.

While the right-handed Gausman, a standout in two seasons at Louisiana State University, was already at ease, the hours leading up to the agreement was anything but.  In the wake of changes to the Draft’s bonus system, Gausman entered Friday the highest unsigned pick. His recent comments to a New Orleans paper about possibly return to LSU for another season also led to some speculation that he would spur the Orioles, although first-year scouting director Gary Rajsich remained hopeful in the hours leading up to the 5 p.m. ET deadline that they’d get their top guy.

“We were optimistic it could get done, but there were some stressful times,” said Rajsich, who sat next to Gausman along with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette.  “You are never sure until it is done. We are thrilled to have him.”

“I love LSU and I always will,” said Gausman, who called Baton Rouge a second home and said it was a difficult decision to leave early. “But I’m just happy that we got this done and happy to start this road I’m going to be starting soon with a great, young organization that is up and coming. I think this is the perfect time for me to get started in this organization and hopefully make an impact eventually.”

The agreement was reached with about 10 seconds to spare, and Gausman –who last pitched in the College World Series – was in Baltimore on Friday morning to take his physical in advance of the two sides reaching a deal. While the slot bonus was $4.2 million, the Orioles agreed to a $4.32 million, avoiding a penalty by using the savings on signings under slot.

The Orioles signed 30 out of 40 picks, including nine of their top 10, with fifth-round selection Colin Poche the lone exception. Poche, a high school pitcher from Texas, will attend the University of Arkansas instead.

“I think we accomplished what we tried to do,” Rajsich said. “I’m pleased with the Draft overall, but getting Kevin, he was the keystone of the whole thing.”

A polished pitcher, Gausman went 12-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 18 games as a sophomore and was an integral part of LSU’s success.  A fairly highly-regarded prospect as a Colorado high schooler in 2010, Gausman was drafted in the sixth round by the Dodgers but elected to go to college and improve.  He said Friday that his biggest focus in the Minor Leagues will be on his two breaking pitches, a slider and curveball.

“I think how long I spend in certain places is going to be determined by those pitches,” he said, “and whether I am going to keep one and focus on one or keep both and try to develop both. I think that’s going to be a big difference-maker.”

The O’s had long been rumored to be in on Gausman, who fell to them in the June Draft after the three clubs before them all went with position players, and they chose him over Stanford arm Mark Appel — who was highly regarded as the Draft’s potential No. 1 pick. Appel, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates, chose not to sign.

This is the second consecutive year the Orioles have taken a pitcher with their first-round pick as the organization selected high school righty Dylan Bundy fourth overall in 2011. Gausman is the third Orioles first-round pick out of LSU, joining Mike Fontenot (2001 — 19th overall) and Ben McDonald (1989 — 1st overall.

Asked when Gausman can expect to pitch for one of the team’s affiliates, Duquette said it was a conversation that will be had in the next few days as the organization irons out a plan.

“Kevin’s been pitching straight between some of the national competitions and college and the summer leagues for two years straight, so I think this little rest that he’s had, I know it’s welcomed by him,” Duquette said. “But I think it will serve him well as he gets going in pro ball.”

Gausman said he has been throwing for about three-and-a-half weeks and has kept in shape after college by running near his Colorado home. Now that he’s in Baltimore, the quirky Gausman –who eats four powdered donut holes in between each inning he pitches – is excited to immerse himself in his new home.

“I want to experience the things in Baltimore that I have heard so much about – Fells Point, you know all the different things, the harbor,” he said. “Being from Denver, that is like a whole other world to me. I like different experiences and I am excited to see Baltimore and soak in every moment of this.”

Orioles vs. Tigers lineups & non-Draft notes

*Nick Markakis is back in the lineup today, but in an unusual spot: leadoff. Markakis is batting leadoff for the first time in his Major League career, with Chris Davis also making his first career start in left field. Endy Chavez was also activated from the disabled list, with rookie Xavier Avery getting sent back to Triple-A Norfolk to get some regular playing time.

*Nick Johnson received a cortisone injection in his right wrist at the team’s spring facility in Sarasota, Fla. and he’s not close to starting baseball activities yet.

*Taylor Teagarden is catching for Class-A Delmarva tonight and if all goes well he could an option as early as Saturday, according to manager Buck Showalter.

*The O’s rotation for the rest of the series (after Jason Hammel) is Wei-Yin Chen followed by Chris Tillman, who will be called up from the Minors to make that start. Tillman had a work day of sorts with Monday’s start in Bowie and Miguel Gonzalez will pitch the first game of the Twins series on Monday.

Zach Britton is the likely candidate for Tuesday, although Showalter said the club could also go with long man Dana Eveland. Britton is fresh off seven scoreless innings for Triple-A Norfolk Thursday and the organization has been encouraged by his last few outings.

*Tomorrow, Saturday, July 14, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer  will be the third Oriole honored as part of the Orioles Legends Celebration Series. A larger-than-life bronze sculpture of Palmer will be revealed in a ceremony in the Legends Area beyond center field beginning at 2:15 p.m. All gates open at 2:00 p.m., and all fans in attendance will receive a replica of the sculpture. Palmer will also be honored in an on-field ceremony and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game.

Earlier this season the Orioles honored Frank Robinson and Earl Weaver. Three more ceremonies are scheduled for Eddie Murray (August 11),  Cal Ripken, Jr. (September 6) and  Brooks Robinson  (September 29). Fans are encouraged to visit www.orioles.com/legends for more information and to purchase tickets for the unveilings.

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

Jason Hammel RHP

TIGERS LINEUP
Austin Jackson CF
Quintin Berry LF
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Prince Fielder 1B
Delmon Young DH
Brennan Boesch RF
Jhonny Peralta SS
Alex Avila C
Ryan Rayburn 2B

Doug Fister RHP

Orioles sign Cuban outfielder Urrutia

The Orioles have have signed Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia to a Minor League contract, a team source confirmed Wednesday evening.

The 25-year-old Urrutia is a a 6-foot-3, 180-pound switch-hitter, and is a corner outfielder with a line-drive swing. His swing is better from the left side, according to Baseball America, which first reported the signing. Urrutia’s contract includes a $778,500 bonus and he could start at the team’s Double-A affiliate in Bowie.

Orioles @ Angels lineups and pregame notes

Greetings from Anaheim as the Orioles get ready to take on the Angels for the final game of the first half.

A reminder that the Futures’ Game is tonight, and you can follow along live on MLB.com. O’s top prospects Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy are on Team USA.

With the All-Star Game fast approaching, Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter –who has been on both sides as a television analyst and 1995’s American League manager of the Midseason Classic – said Sunday he will tune in to watch his players: catcher Matt Wieters, centerfielder Adam Jones and closer Jim Johnson.

“It will be with the sound off,” Showalter said. “I’m not a big [fan of] the Home Run derby thing, it’s for the fans. I’ll probably flip it on, but I won’t do the pregame, because I’ve been part of the pregame for ESPN. It’s a great event.

My gosh, it’s still the best All-Star Game in all sports. They do a great job for the fans. It’s a very fan friendly event. And it’s important. I hope it’s important for us.”

Showalter’s club has more than one All-Star for the first time since 2005 with Baltimore set to close the first half in second place in the AL East, marking just the second time since 1998 they’ve had a winning record prior to the break.

Wieters and Jones are both two-time selections, while Johnson –who entered Sunday with a Major League-leading 26 saves – will be headed to his first All-Star game.

The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Tuesday, July 10, with MLB.com featuring extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities. The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.

Here are your lineups…

ORIOLES LINEUP

Robert Andino 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Matt Wieters DH
Adam Jones CF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Chris Davis RF
Steve Pearce LF
Steve Tolleson 3B
Ronny Paulino C

Wei-Yin Chen LHP

ANGELS LINEUP

Mike Trout LF
Torii Hunter RF
Albert Pujols DH
Mark Trumbo 1B
Howard Kendrick 2B
Erick Aybar SS
Peter Bourjos CF
Maicer Izturis 3B
John Hester C

Brad Mills LHP

Orioles @ Angels lineups and pregame notes (updated)

*Chris Davis is back in the lineup after missing two games with a neck muscle strain (officially called a right trapezius strain) while Joe Mahoney –who was recalled from Triple-A prior to Thursday’s game — will be making his Major League debut. Mahoney has been swinging well at Triple-A as of late and manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to give Mark Reynolds a day with that bruised left hand, which blew up pretty good after Thursday’s game.

*Endy Chavez has continued to improve and is expected to start a rehab assignment Monday for the Gulf Coast League, while Nick Markakis and Taylor Teagarden both are playing for Double-A Bowie. Markakis is playing right field and batting second with Teagarden hitting third at designated hitter. The hope is Markakis –who will play through Monday — will be ready to join the Orioles for Thursday’s workout.

*Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy talks about the excitement regarding pitching in his first Futures Game here.

*As expected, Steve Tolleson is here and taking the roster spot vacated by Jake Arrieta.

*Miguel Gonzalez, who had about 200 people in attendance for his first Major League start, said he got another 50 phone calls and 50 text messages following his dominant seven-inning outing. Gonzalez is set up to be the Orioles’ fourth starter after the break, with Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Tillman pitching the first three games in that order.

You can read more about Gonzalez’s start and the heartfelt game here.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Xavier Avery LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Jim Thome DH
Matt Wieters C
Wilson Betemit 3B
Joe Mahoney 1B
Robert Andino 2B

Jason Hammel RHP

ANGELS LINEUP

Mike Trout CF
Torii Hunter RF
Albert Pujols DH
Kendrys Morales 1B
Mark Trumbo LF
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Howie Kendrick 2B
Erick Aybar SS
Bobby Wilson C

Jered Weaver RHP

Gonzalez uses Adenhart’s spirit to dominate in first career start

I don’t typically post game stories on the blog because it’s redundant in terms of what I do for Orioles.com, but Friday’s game was one –if not the best — story I’ve ever covered. The Orioles’ 3-2 win was a feel-good story that is every reporter’s dream and was one of those nights you truly feel blessed to write a story that’s about so much more than what you read in the box score. You can read the full game story with video and related links here, but I’ve also included the text below. Enjoy.

***

Brittany Ghiroli/MLB.COM

ANAHEIM– Surrounded by approximately 200 family and friends, Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez put on a show in his first Major League start on Friday night. But it was the one notable absence — despite the crowd of 42,716 at Angel Stadium — that Gonzalez, a former Angels farmhand, perhaps clung to the most.

Using a glove once belonging to late Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, a tribute to a friend and Minor League teammate, Gonzalez fired seven inspired innings to lead Baltimore to a 3-2 series-evening win.

“I thought it was the perfect time to do it,” Gonzalez said of using the Rawlings Gold Glove model for the first time in a game. Gifted to him by Adenhart in 2007, the glove is never far from Gonzalez, traveling in his bag on buses and airplanes and serving as a constant reminder of his friend.

“We were pretty close,” Gonzalez said of Adenhart, who was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver in April 2009.  “We played together for two years [and parts of three seasons]. I’m with him in my heart and obviously their family, I’m with them too. It wasn’t an easy thing for them.”

Nor has it been an easy path by any means for the 28-year-old Gonzalez. The Southern California product — who played baseball 50 miles away at San Fernando High –held the Angels to one run on three hits and two walks Friday night to give the Orioles a much-needed boost in their rotation and bring the right-hander what he called simply some “relief”.

“All the hard work, the ups and downs I’ve had, obviously that pushed me back a little bit but I’m here now,” said Gonzalez who was released by the Red Sox this winter and pitched in the Mexican Winter League before signing with Baltimore in late February. “And I’m going to do my best to help out the team and just keep going.”

Originally signed by the Angels as an undrafted free agent in 2004, Gonzalez missed all of the ’08 season due to a knee injury and was selected by Boston in the Rule 5 Draft that winter. He underwent Tommy John surgery in ’09 — which cost him the season — and made 17 appearances for Class A Advanced Salem the following year. Gonzalez pitched for three Red Sox affiliates last season — mainly for Double-A — before he was released in December.

He did not appear in Orioles big league camp, but turned heads in the organization after pitching to a 1.61 ERA in 14 games (six starts) in the Minors, and given the struggles of the team’s rotation — they have demoted three starters in the past week — Gonzalez was given a chance.

And he ran with it, putting on an emotionally-charged display that wasn’t lost on Orioles manager Buck Showalter.

“I’m an old fuddy duddy; I think of those things all the time,” Showalter when asked if he took in the magnitude of the moment for Gonzalez. “Not a day goes by where I don’t get an emotional tug of what’s going on. I’ve said it so many times, sometimes guys who are 28 to 32, a lot of things they expose themselves to, if they’ve absorbing things, they figure it out later in their career.

He’s got a lot of want-to. And tonight he had some can-to.”

Gonzalez used pinpoint command to attack the zone, striking out six and twice erasing a leadoff walk to keep pace with Angels lefty C.J. Wilson, who the Orioles tagged for three runs courtesy of Steve Pearce’s home run.

“The best way to say it is he pitched tonight,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Gonzalez who tossed his longest start of the season, including six games in Triple-A, in the 100-pitch performance. “He was in and out of the zone, had good life and used his breaking ball.”

Pearce gave Gonzalez all the help he needed with one swing, as he connected for a three-run jack off Wilson in the fifth inning. After Wilson Betemit’s leadoff single, Mark Reynolds worked his second walk of the night and Pearce sent a full-count pitch deep for his third homer, two of which have come off Wilson.

“I just feel comfortable when he’s pitching,” Pearce said.  “I was able to get deep in the counts and wait him out until I got to my pitch.”

Orioles @ Angels lineups and pregame notes (updated)

*An MRA taken on Brian Roberts’ right hip yesterday showed a torn labrum and Roberts will seek a second opinion with a hip specialist, according to manager Buck Showalter. There are several options Roberts can explore at this point, including surgery.

*Don Werner is here today and will serve as bullpen coach the rest of the series, as Bill Castro flew home to the Dominican Republic to deal with a death in the family.

*Nick Markakis (right wrist) had a good day today and will start playing games for Double-A Bowie tomorrow as expected.

*The Orioles are  not expected to make a corresponding roster move today for Jake Arrieta –who was optioned after last night’s game– and it looks as if they will wait until Saturday to recall infielder/outfielder Steve Tolleson. With Chris Davis out of the lineup for the second straight game –with a strained right trapezius muscle — and Mark Reynolds taking a pitch off his left hand last night, Tolleson could help add some depth to the corner infield and outfield spots.

The team’s bullpen is in pretty good shape right now, despite Arrieta’s 3 2/3 innings, but that can always change depending on what happens tonight. Either way, the Orioles will go with 24 players tonight and are expected to add Tolleson before Saturday’s game.

Reynolds said he did not get an X-ray on his left hand, but he does have a sizable bruise, and is still in the lineup today.

As for Davis, he said he could have played today, but with tough lefty C.J. Wilson on the mound it was an easy move for manager Buck Showalter to give Davis another day. Davis woke up yesterday with some stiffness in his neck and after trying to throw in pregame batting practice, he alerted the team’s trainers and was taken out of the lineup. The injury is believed to have stemmed from the sliding catch he made in right field during Wednesday’s game in Seattle.

“My range of motion is back,” said Davis, who was in good spirits on Friday afternoon. “It’s still painful, but as long as I can turn my head it’s the biggest thing. That’s obviously the way I look to hit. So I’m going to take BP today and I should be able to play tomorrow.”

*Miguel Gonzalez is making his first Major League start tonight for the Orioles and you can read a little more on that here.

*Orioles closer Jim Johnson -who is headed to his first All-Star Game– talks about his favorite All-Star game memory as a fan here. Catcher Matt Wieters, who is a two-time All-Star does the same.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Robert Andino 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Wilson Betemit 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Steve Pearce RF
Ronny Paulino DH
Xavier Avery LF

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

ANGELS LINEUP
Mike Trout CF
Torii Hunter RF
Albert Pujols 1B
Kendrys Morales DH
Mark Trumbo LF
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Howard Kendrick 2B
Erick Aybar SS
John Hester C

C.J. Wilson LHP

Arrieta optioned

The curious case of starter Jake Arrieta continued on Thursday night, as the right-hander’s poor showing negated a windfall of offense, backing Baltimore into a 9-7 series-opening loss to the Angels and forcing the Orioles to option their third starting pitcher in a week.

For the second time in three starts, Arrieta failed to go four innings, and the 26-year-old did nothing to quell the uneasiness regarding his performance this season. Instead, he made it an all-too easy decision for the Oriole brass to send him to Triple-A Norfolk after surrendering six runs on five hits and three walks over a mere 11 outs.

“I’ve said it many times. It ain’t good enough,” said manager Buck Showalter, who has also sent pitchers Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter, both part of the team’s Opening Day rotation, to the Minor Leagues.

“We’ve got to get better and I think our guys understand that carrying around 6.00 ERAs in the American League just don’t cut it.”

The Orioles’ Opening Day starter, Arrieta (3-9, 6.18 ERA) has shown flashes of brilliance — including May 2′s eight-inning start in which no Yankees batter touched second base — but those flashes have been few and far between. Following a seven-game stretch in which he went 0-6 with a 9.43 ERA, Arrieta was briefly demoted to the bullpen, but he never pitched in relief before an injury to Matusz put him back in the rotation. Arrieta looked as if he had turned the corner over the next three games, pitching to a 2.70 ERA and going six or more innings in each start, but Thursday’s debacle was the second consecutive poor outing, and the Orioles –at least for now – have seen enough.

Speaking before he knew of the team’s decision to option him, Arrieta had a hard time justifying that he deserved another start at this level.

“I really don’t know,” he said when asked if he had done enough to warrant a second-half rotation spot. “I would like to say yes, but with the struggles and with the way the first half was, you know, who knows? I mean, am I confident that things are going to turn around and be more positive in the second half? Yeah, absolutely.  There’s no question about that. But right now the first half ended on a bad note.”

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