As the roster turns (w/ more from Saunders)
**Sunday’s rainout pushes Chris Tillman’s start to Tuesday, with Wei-Yin Chen starting Monday’s series opener against the White Sox as planned. The Orioles have TBA listed for Wednesday and Thursday with newly acquired Joe Saunders –who will be flying to Baltimore Monday morning — expected to get one of those starts.
Zach Britton could get the other, or the Orioles could go with Miguel Gonzalez –who was originally starting Tuesday –or Steve Johnson, who has fared well in both of his Major League starts. They need to clear a roster spot for Saunders, and could option right-hander Jake Arrieta –who was recalled earlier on Sunday to take the spot vacated by Matt Lindstrom — or any of those previously mentioned pitchers.
Saunders last threw a bullpen session on Friday and there’s a lot of flexibility for an Oriole team already averaging more roster moves than games played.
**Click here for more on the Saunders trade, here for information on the rainout, here for more on the pending return of right-hander Jason Hammel and here for more from Arrieta on his ‘necessary’ demotion to Triple-A in early July.
**I spoke with Joe Saunders earlier this afternoon, as he packed his stuff up and prepared to head home to the East Coast, and he seemed incredibly excited to join an Oriole team he grew up rooting for.
“I am very excited,” said Saunders, a Virginia native who was raised an Oriole fan and reflected fondly on the short drive to Camden Yards he made frequently with his family. “I grew up watching Mike Musssina, Cal Ripken [Jr.], Chris Hoiles, Mickey Tettleton, Rafael Palmeiro, all those vintage Oriole guys that were there at the time.
I just remember sitting in the games at the upper deck just thinking to myself it would be really cool one day to play in one of these stadiums. And now I will.”
Saunders — who didn’t make Sunday’s scheduled start — has gone 6-10 with a 4.22 ERA this season and cleared trade waivers earlier in the week, which made the 31-year-old eligible to be traded to any club. He knew it was coming last night, but didn’t know he was coming back to his hometown team until he got to the ballpark this morning.
“It’s all come full circle,” Saunders said. “You always want to have a chance to win. I think if you are going to get traded from a team like we had here [in Arizona], to a team like the Orioles, to a real contender it was just….when you get traded you hope it’s to a wining club, that’s what I like to do. I’ve been to the playoffs three of my [previous] seven years. If I can come help the Orioles get to the playoffs that would be great.”
Saunders has made four postseason starts and will join an Oriole club short on playoff experience. He is familiar with O’s first baseman Mark Reynolds already, having played together with him for several months, and worked out with shortstop J.J. Hardy this winter. He’s pitched against Adam Jones quite a bit, dating back to their Minor League days when Jones was in Seattle, and is looking forward to being back where his baseball career began.
“It’s an exciting time for Baltimore,” said Saunders who is 16-9 with a 3.98 ERA in 35 career starts in September and October. “They got a good team a great staff, a lot of great young stud position players. It’s exciting for me, also to go to a team that’s in the hunt.
“September is pretty much a whole another season in itself, it makes or breaks you. It’s almost like you start over, you kick it into another gear and that’s what I’ve always done.”
“I feel like my job is to go as deep into the game as possible, it’s something I pride myself on pitching 200 innings,” Saunders said. “I know it won’t happen this year because of all the weird stuff that’s happened this year, but that’s what I pride myself on doing.
We had a lot of weird things go on for us [in Arizona], we had a lot of different things happen. It was one of those up and down years, where we couldn’t be really consistent and the magic really wasn’t there that we had last year. I think the front office saw that and decided they were going to trade me.”
**Saunders also held court with the media in Arizona earlier today. You can read those quotes here.