July 2012

Orioles @ Angels lineups and pregame notes (updated)

*Chris Davis was a late scratch with a right trapezius strain, which is in the shoulder area, and Ryan Flaherty will now play right field instead. (See the updated lineup below). the trapezius muscle is a large muscle that spans the neck, shoulders and back. Its chief action is support of the shoulders and limbs and rotation of the scapula necessary to raise the arms above shoulder level, which explains why the most discomfort is coming when Davis tries to throw.

We don’t know right now whether it’s a disabled list situation or not. right now. Davis is hitting.274 with 14 homers and 40 RBIs in 70 games. He is 4-for-12 with a double, a homer, two runs scored and five RBIs on the road trip.

*Orioles bullpen coach Bill Castro left the team this morning to fly back to the Dominican Republic due to a death in the family. The Orioles will have Brady Anderson in the bullpen tonight and Don Werner for the rest of the series.

*Right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez will start on Friday, coming out of the bullpen to make the first Major League start of his career. While Dana Eveland was also an option, manager Buck Showalter preferred having the lefty Eveland to follow right-hander Jake Arrieta if needed for tonight. The Angels also fare much better against left-handed starters, and Showalter said the Orioles want to see what they have in Gonzalez before the break.

As far as any pitch count limits, Showalter said: “I think he can go closer to 100, if Anaheim will allow it.”

*Nick Markakis (right wrist) will start his rehab assignment on Saturday for Double-A Bowie, and the plan is for him to play through Monday. He reportedly felt good today swinging the bat and will do the same thing again on Friday.

*Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel fell short in his bid to become a first-time American League All-Star as the 29-year-old — along with three others — lost to Texas Rangers’ pitcher Yu Darvish in the MLB.com Final Vote presented by Firestone.

“Being that close is still pretty fun,” Hammel said, “But there’s always next year.”

Hammel has been a pleasant surprise for the Orioles this season after being acquired, along with reliever Matt Lindstrom, in a trade for starter Jeremy Guthrie. A former Rays prospect, Hammel was demoted to the Rockies bullpen late last season and decided he needed to make some adjustments to save his career. It was a wise choice, as the right-hander has pitched to a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts and has been Baltimore’s best starter.

“If you had told him coming in to this year, if he had gone down to the last vote, I think he’d love to go to the All-Star Game and we’d like for him to go there”  Showalter said, “but also I think his arm and his need could stand the time [off], selfishly.”

*Joe Mahoney is here, after getting in at about 11:30 a.m. local time, and he will serve as an extra man off the bench tonight.

“It was a surprise,” Mahoney said of the news, which came after he was pinch-hit for in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game.  “I’m starting to hit a little bit better but I still knew I wasn’t where I need to be. But I’m here to help out wherever I can.

Mahoney was Norfolk’s first baseman, but he has played some left field as well. The 25-year-old Mahoney has batted .257/.312/.355 with 14 doubles, five home runs and 38 RBIs in 84 games with the Tides this season. Originally selected by the Orioles in the sixth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Richmond, Mahoney will be making his Major League debut.

Mahoney said he’s here to help in any way he can and will be making his Major League debut if/when he gets into a game. His wife made the trip with him from Durham, N.C. –which is where Triple-A Norfolk was playing –and his parents, brother, sister and brother’s girlfriend all flew from New York to be here in Anaheim tonight.

*The Angels have placed right-hander Dan Haren on the disabled list, which makes their Sunday starter now TBA.

*Showalter said there was no news regarding the MRA on second baseman Brian Roberts’ hip.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Xavier Avery LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Matt Wieters C
Adam Jones CF
Jim Thome DH
Wilson Betemit 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Flaherty RF
Robert Andino 2B

Jake Arrieta 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

Garrett Richards RHP

Hammel loses Final Vote to Darvish

Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel fell short of his bid to become a first-time American League All-Star as the 29-year-old –along with three others — lost to Texas Rangers’ pitcher Yu Darvish in the MLB.com Final Vote presented by Firestone.

The results were released Thursday at approximately 4:30 p.m. ET on MLB.com following an astounding number of votes and vocal support from all five candidates and their respective teams.

Hammel has been a pleasant surprise for the Orioles this season after being acquired, along with reliever Matt Lindstrom, in a trade for starter Jeremy Guthrie. A former Rays prospect, Hammel was demoted to the Rockies bullpen late last season and decided he needed to make some adjustments to save his career. It was a wise choice, as the right-hander has pitched to a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts and has been Baltimore’s best starter.

With the reemergence of his two-seamer and more of an edge, Hammel has thrust himself into the national spotlight as the surprising Orioles have just their second winning first-half record since 1998. He was named as one of five American League Final Vote candidates, with teammates Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Jim Johnson named to the All-Star team on Selection Sunday, and was trying to push the O’s number to four. Baltimore hasn’t had four All-Stars since 2005.

In addition to Darvish, Hammel was up against White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy, Royals closer Jonathan Broxton and Angels reliever Ernesto Frieri.

The 83rd Major League Baseball 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. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.

A few notes

Greetings from Anaheim…

*While you were enjoying your 4th of July fireworks, the Orioles were making another roster move, summoning first baseman Joe Mahoney from Triple-A Norfolk in a move that’s expected to be made official before tonight’s series opener against the Angels.  He will take the spot of Chris Tillman, who was optioned after yesterday’s game to Double-A Bowie to stay on track and avoid a long layoff during the All-Star Break. Tillman will pitch the team’s third game in the second half.

Mahoney gives the team another bench player and was an easy roster move because he is already on the 40-man roster. It’s possible the club could make another move involving infielder Steve Tolleson later in the series.

*Baysox outfielder Robbie Widlansky has been named Eastern League Player of the Month for June.  He is the first Baysox player to win the award since Mike Fontenot won in June of 2003. In 24 games in June, Widlansky batted .407 (35-86) with 2 HR and 21 RBI. He had the highest batting average, on base percentage (.523), OPS (1.116) and the fifth most RBI in the month. The 27-year-old also reached base in every game during the month of June.

*Left-hander Zach Phillips has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. The O’s designated Phillips for assignment on June 30 to make room on the 40-man roster for Jim Thome.

*Nick Markakis is not playing for Double-A Bowie tonight, which means he will probably start his rehab assignment with the affiliate Friday. The plan was for him to start Thursday or Friday and for Markakis to play through Monday.

Tillman optioned

The Orioles picked up a series win with Wednesday’s 4-2 win in Seattle, but the afternoon belonged to starter Chris Tillman, who ensured the Orioles’ ninth road series win with a dominant 8 1/3-inning outing in which he allowed two hits and didn’t give up an earned run.

The 125-pitch outing shattered his previous career high of 112. Erasing any quibbles over high-pitch counts at Triple-A, Tillman needed just 76 offerings to get through the first six frames and put on a show for the holiday crowd of 21,982, hitting 97 mph on his 120th pitch.

“I’ve been in the comfort zone for about a month-and-a-half now,” said Tillman, who was optioned after the game to Double-A Bowie where he will make a start Monday before pitching the team’s third game after the All-Star Break.

The team was going to option Tillman after his start no matter what and this move keeps him on schedule rather than getting a long layoff with the break. Tillman will stay the minimum of 10 days in the Minors and come back to throw for the finale against Detroit on July 15. The team’s rotation heading into the break will be Jake Arrieta on Thursday, Dana Eveland or Miguel Gonzalez for Friday, Jason Hammel on Saturday and Wei-Yin Chen on Sunday.

Orioles/Mariners lineups and pregame notes

*Brian Roberts flew back to Baltimore today and will get an MRA on his right hip, which has been bothering him the last few days as well. Roberts, who was put on the disabled list with a right groin strain is dealing with soreness in the adductor area. An MRA is similar to an MRI except contrast dye is injected into the area for a clearer picture.

*Nick Markakis (right wrist) has taken batting practice with no problems the last two days while working out with short-season Aberdeen and, assuming all goes well today, he will start playing in rehab games at the end of this week. The plan is tentatively to get him going for Thursday or Friday and have Markakis available as an option to be activated immediately after the break.

*Taylor Teagarden will go to Double-A Bowie and start playing games for them on Friday and could be an option immediately after the break as well. As soon as Teagarden can prove he can handle catching games at that level, expect him to join the Orioles in place of Ronny Paulino.

Endy Chavez (hamstring strain) is further behind but has started running.

*The Orioles will go with an internal starter for Friday’s game, which eliminates lefty Zach Britton who would line up to pitch that day for Triple-A Norfolk. Dana Eveland is an option as well as Miguel Gonzalez, according to manager Buck Showalter. While Gonzalez isn’t being considered as a rotation candidate, he could make the spot start. Jason Hammel will pitch Saturday and Wei-Yin Chen will go on Sunday.

ORIOLES LINEUP

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

Chris Tillman RHP

MARINERS LINEUP
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Michael Saunders CF
Casper Wells LF
John Jaso DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Justin Smoak 1B
Jesus Montero C
Dustin Ackley 2B
Munenori Kawasaki SS

Hector Noesi RHP

Tillman to be activated, Johnson likely optioned for Wednesday

Pitcher Chris Tillman was in the Orioles clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, as the 24-year-old will be activated and make his season debut in Wednesday’s series finale against the Seattle Mariners.

“This is what I’ve worked all season for,” said Tillman, who had an impressive spring and flew, along with outfielder Xavier Avery, to the West Coast early Tuesday morning from the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk.  “I’ve gotten in a good routine and it’s working well. I’m real excited.”

Tillman is 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 89 1/3 innings in 15 starts with Norfolk this season and said Tuesday he still wasn’t sure what was up even when he was scratched from Monday’s start. He threw a bullpen session instead and was told by Tides’ manager Ron Johnson afterwards that he was getting the call to join the Orioles.

While excited for the opportunity, Tillman stressed carrying over the same routine that has made him successful with Norfolk and hopes to avoid the pitfalls that has resulted in a shuttle back-and-forth from the Majors over the past three seasons.  He is a career 7-15 with a 5.58 ERA in 36 games.

“I was on a pretty good run down there,” said Tillman who has posted a 2.88 ERA in his last 10 starts, posting 66 strikeouts against 15 walks over that stretch.  “Having guys like Jamie Moyer and J.C. Romero down there really helped. I can’t tell you how cool that was, and talking to them about your routine. I think I learned a lot working down there.

I’m happy with where I’m at and I’m confident in it. I think that’s the most important thing, being confident in it.”

While the corresponding roster move for Tillman hasn’t been announced, the Orioles will likely send out a reliever given the state of their bench, which has just three players including backup catcher Ronny Paulino. Optioning right-hander Steve Johnson, who was recalled prior to Monday’s game, is the most logical scenario.

Roberts to DL, Avery activated (w. lineups)

*The Orioles will place Brian Roberts on the 15-day disabled list before the start of Tuesday’s game, as the 34-year-old second baseman was diagnosed with a right groin strain after an MRI was taken in Seattle earlier in the day.

Roberts first alerted manager Buck Showalter to some groin soreness on Monday afternoon and he was not in the lineup for Monday’s series opener against the Mariners. He came to Safeco Field on Tuesday afternoon  in worse condition and was able to immediately get tests taken to further diagnose the injury. Roberts’ trip to the DL means the Orioles can activate outfielder Xavier Avery within the 10 day window. Avery was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after Saturday’s game.

Roberts made his season debut on June 12 after being activated off the 60-day DL, a triumphant return in which he went 3-for-4 with an RBI in his first Major League game since May 16, 2011. He has a .182 batting average with five RBIs and two runs scored in 17 games, and is expected to report to the team’s spring complex in Sarasota, Fla. to rehab.

The injury joins a long list of injured O’s including Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold –who is likely out for the season — Endy Chavez, Taylor Teagarden, Nick Johnson and Stu Pomeranz.

*Markakis (right wrist) amped up his efforts in Tuesday’s batting practice with short-season Aberdeen with positive reports, according to Showalter. The team is hoping Markakis can start playing rehab games as early as Thursday.

*Chavez (left hamstring strain)  started running at the team’s spring complex in Sarasota, Fla.

*Teagarden served at designated hitter for the Gulf Coast League on Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with a walk.

ORIOLES LINEUP

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

Wei Yin Chen SP

MARINERS LINEUP

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Casper Wells LF
Kyle Seager 3B
Jesus Montero DH
Miguel Olivo C
Michael Saunders CF
Justin Smoak 1B
Dustin Ackley 2B
Brendan Ryan SS

Felix Hernandez RHP

Orioles @ Mariners

Greetings from Seattle, where the Orioles will open a three-game series against the Mariners before heading to Anaheim to close out the first half.  Lots of pregame notes today..

*Chris Tillman will fly to Seattle on Tuesday and right now it’s set up that he pitches on Wednesday, which gives Jake Arrieta an extra day of rest and pushes him to Thursday. Manager Buck Showalter said that hasn’t been decided yet –the pair could flip– but given that Tillman was supposed to start today, it makes the most sense. Friday’s starter remains to be determined with Dana Eveland an option out of the bullpen if he’s not needed in the interim. The O’s could also recall Zach Britton, who is slated to start Friday for Norfolk already, although the sense is Britton needs one more good outing in Triple-A first. He’s close, with his velocity and location back to normal, but the sense is he’s not there quite yet and the team would prefer to leave him down there if they can.

*Brian Roberts was not in Monday’s starting lineup and is dealing with some groin soreness that Showalter said started during Sunday’s game. The team is being cautious with Roberts, who was absent from pregame stretch and batting practice as well.

*Nick Markakis (right wrist) took 20-25 swings at about 70 percent while working out with the short-season Aberdeen team, and he reportedly said he felt better Monday then he did when his wrist was healthy. He will up that workload on Tuesday –more swings and a high intensity — and could play in a rehab game for Double-A Bowie as early as Thursday.

Markakis will not be back before the All-Star Break, but the team is hoping he can play through Monday and then return right after the break.

*Right-handed pitcher and local product Steve Johnson was officially recalled and will be making his Major League debut for the Baltimore Orioles. Johnson was added to help bolster the bullpen’s depth and called the experience “a dream come true”.

*In case you missed it earlier, Dontrelle Willis announced he is retiring. He had been pitching for the Orioles’ Triple-A team since being stretched back out as a starter. You can read more on that here.

*Catcher Taylor Teagarden started his rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League today and will stay there for about a week before heading out to play with one of the team’s affiliates up north. There’s no timetable on Teagarden, but Showalter was cautiously optimistic he would be available to help the team in the second half.

*The Washington Nationals and Orioles have partnered together to help send the “Beltways Ballot” of potential first-timers outfielder Bryce Harper and right-handed pitcher Jason Hammel to Kansas City for this year’s All-Star Game.

Harper and Hammel are candidates on Major League Baseball’s Final Vote ballot, in which five players each are chosen from the National and American Leagues to compete for the final spot on their respective league rosters. Fans are encouraged to go online or use their mobile phones from now through 4:00 p.m. ET this Thursday, July 5, to vote as many times as they can for both Harper and Hammel.

Fans who vote for Harper at nationals.com/finalvote will be eligible to win a VIP Meet & Greet with the Nationals rookie sensation during batting practice as well as tickets to a future 2012 game. In addition, fans who vote for Harper and choose the Nationals as their “favorite” or “other favorite” team at least 21 times can receive a 50% OFF discount offer for two tickets to a select Nationals home game of their choice. Voting for Harper can also be done via mobile devices by texting N3 to 89269. For mobile voting in Canada, fans should text N3 to 101010. Standard data and messaging rates may apply.

Fans voting for Hammel will be eligible to win a VIP Meet & Greet with the pitcher, parking and four (4) field box seat tickets to an Orioles home game in July or August. In addition, fans who vote online at orioles.com/finalvote at least 20 times for Hammel and select the Orioles as their “favorite” or “other favorite” team can receive a 50% off discount offer for up to four tickets to an Orioles home game July 24 through 29. Voting is also available via mobile phone by texting A4 to 89269.

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

Jason Hammel RHP

MARINERS LINEUP
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Casper Wells CF
John Jaso DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Miguel Olivo C
Dustin Ackley 1B
Chone Figgins LF
Munenori Kawasaki 2B
Brendan Ryan SS

Hisashi Iwakuma RHP

D-Train retires

Dontrelle Willis has announced his retirement, the Baltimore Orioles announced officially on Monday afternoon, ending a successful and unusual Major League career for the left-handed pitcher nicknamed “D-Train”.

Willis, 30, signed a Minor League deal with the Orioles this spring as a lefty specialist before eventually returning to a starting role after a dispute with the organization regarding a forearm strain he believed came from working out of the bullpen.

He made one start for Triple-A Norfolk upon returning to the club, allowing four runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Willis went  0-3 with an 8.53 ERA in four total appearances for the Tides, including eight runs (six earned) and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked eight and struck out six.

Willis won Rookie of the Year honors with the Florida Marlins after going 14-10 in 2003 and two seasons later he went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA and finished second in Cy Young voting. But then Willis’ career took a downturn, as his ERA shot up to 5.17 in ’07 and never came back down. He struggled with the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds, the latter which marked his last appearance in the big leagues in 2011.

Willis was released by the Philadelphia Phillies in Spring Training before being signed to a Minor League deal by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette.

Tillman time?

Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman has been scratched from Monday’s scheduled start for Triple-A Norfolk and is considered a leading candidate to start for Baltimore on Thursday. Tillman has pitched to a 2.88 ERA in his last 10 starts for the Tides and the 24-year-old could slot in to the O’s rotation following Jake Arrieta on Wednesday.

Baltimore is expected to officially recall Steve Johnson prior to Monday’s series opener in Seattle to help bolster the bullpen, but the team will almost certainly need to make several roster moves over the next few days as it has only three starting pitchers listed in Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Arrieta. The Orioles will also need a starter for Friday, which lines up to be Triple-A Norfolk’s Zach Britton’s next start and –following Brian Matusz’s demotion on Sunday — executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette referenced Tillman and Britton as the primary internal candidates to help a struggling starting rotation.

Both Tillman and Britton have garnered positive reviews for their recent performance in Norfolk, and while the Orioles continue to keep an eye on the trade market, Duquette reiterated again Sunday his preference is to explore the team’s options in Triple-A first.

Matusz and right-hander Tommy Hunter –who was optioned on Saturday — would both need an injury situation to arise to be eligible to return from the Minors within 10 days. Long reliever Miguel Gonzalez is not a candidate to start either Thursday or Friday, although the team has used Dana Eveland for a spot start and could again if necessary.

Tillman is 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA in 15 starts with 92 strikeouts and 30 walks over 89 1/3 innings pitched while Britton is 2-1 with a 4.96 ERA –with 21 strikeouts and 14 walks over 32 2/3 innings — in six starts at Triple-A. The 24-year-old Britton started the season on the disabled list and struggled after being optioned off rehab assignment, but is coming off a solid outing Sunday night in which he went six innings of two-run baseball (one earned) with seven strikeouts.

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