August 2012

Wolf speaks

Randy Wolf is here and will be activated tonight for the Orioles and used as a left-handed reliever. Wolf has made only five relief appearances in 371 Major League games – allowing six runs and 10 hits, and striking out 11 in nine innings – but he will be used out of the bullpen as a second lefty to Brian Matusz.

A 14-year veteran, Wolf is 3-10 with a 5.69 ERA in 24 starts this season, the final year of a three-year, $29.75 million contract he signed with Milwaukee during the 2009 Winter Meetings. Here’s what Wolf, who was released by the Brewers last week, had to say.

[on adjusting to a relief role]
“I did it once in Milwaukee this year. It’s different, but I think it’s exciting. I knew that was going to be the role going into it. A big part of my decision was coming here and helping the team, which I think has a great chance of winning. Being in the playoffs the past two out of three years, I realized that’s what it’s all about, to play September baseball when it actually means something and every game’s important. No matter what the role is, that’s exciting.

[on the Yankees and being in the American League for the first time in his career]
“I faced this team before. I faced a few of the hitters in the Yankees lineup. I don’t think it’s totally absent there. Plus, the way technology is right now, you can get video of everything. Not that you get everything out of video, but you can learn a lot.”

[on the adjustments in becomng a bullpen pitcher]
“Literally, you always have to be ready. I think the hardest adjustment for me is the physical routine that I go through every day. As a starter, I come to the park and I know this is my long run day, this is my lift day, this is whatever I do for my shoulder. As a reliever, if you haven’t pitched in a while, you have to be ready to pitch every day. Obviously, there are times when, if you pitch two or three innings, you know you’re not going to pitch that day and you can do a bigger workout. It’s definitely a change to the routine, but you have to be ready for that.”

[on choosing to come to O's]
“That’s one of the most exciting things about it, to have that opportunity to help out a team in that situation. This is one of the teams that’s the best team that nobody is talking about. In the mass media, you don’t hear much about the Orioles. It’s an exciting team. They’re finding ways to win every day. It’s pretty exciting to see a team that…it’s hard to really put your finger on what it is that makes them win, but as long as they win, that’s all that matters.”

[on the decision to sign with Baltimore]

“It came up pretty quickly. It was between a few teams and I kind of knew that Kranny liked his experience in Baltimore. But the biggest decision for me as just going to a team that had a chance to win.”

[on his season not going the way he planned] I hope not. What am I masochist? [laughs.}

“This has been the most frustrating year of my career because I look at I’m probably throwing a slight bit harder than I was last year, I feel better physically than I did last year. And I know my stuff isn’t that much different. I think my location hasn’t been as good. It’s been a nightmare year, no doubt. To me, I like at going to Baltimore and going to a new team as maybe a silver lining in a nightmarish year. It’s exciting to go to a new team and kind of have a rebirth and try to help out in a new role. I just talked to Rick and I told him however you need me to help out, I’m ready to do whatever you need me to do.”

Orioles @ Yankees lineups and pregame notes

*Randy Wolf is here has been added to the roster and used as a left-handed reliever. He joins Brian Matusz as the two lefties in the bullpen as the O’s open a three-game series in the Bronx hoping to catch the American League East-leading Yankees.

*Steve Tolleson, Xavier Avery and Luis Exposito are all here and will be activated for September callups tomorrow. Wilson Betemit, who has been on rehab with Double-A Bowie, was also in the clubhouse and will also be activated on Saturday.

Manager Buck Showalter said Tommy Hunter will throw an inning for Double-A Bowie on Saturday and Hunter is eligible to return to the team after Sept. 3, which would be 10 days. Bowie is in the playoffs so –unlike Triple-A Norfolk — Hunter won’t be available to them right away.

Zach Britton, on the other hand, will. Britton is tentatively slated to make his next start on Tuesday with Joe Saunders starting Monday’s opener in Toronto. Chris Tillman will pitch Sunday’s game, which was previously listed as TBA. Showalter said they are considering “one or two” players additionally from Norfolk and that probably means Jake Arrieta and left-handed pitcher Zach Phillips. Norfolk’s season ends on Sept. 3.

*Troy Patton threw for the first time yesterday, 60 feet off flat ground, and that was a good sign for Patton who hadn’t picked up a ball previously.

*Since I keep getting asked this question, I’ll state it again here. Players added to the roster after Aug. 31 are still eligible to be on the postseason roster, they just will have to take the 40-man roster spot of someone on the disabled list. You reset your postseason roster every round and you can use someone not on the 40-man if you are replacing a DL’ed player. This includes everyone from Brian Roberts to Jim Thome, although in the case of Thome, the O’s are still hoping to have him back.

*Lots of media here, including MLB Productions, which is taping a segment on the Orioles-Yankees series that will air on NBC Sports next week.

Here are your lineups….

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nate McLouth LF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Omar Quintanilla 2B
Manny Machado 3B

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

YANKEES LINEUP

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

Hiroki Kuroda RHP

Showalter says Bundy will play instrux and not be a Sept. callup

Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will head to instructional league when his season for Double-A Bowie ends, manager Buck Showalter announced prior to Wednesday’s game. The news effectively eliminates increased speculation that the 19-year-old Bundy would be a September callup as part of Baltimore’s playoff push.

Bundy pitched 5 1/3 innings Tuesday night, allowing a pair of runs and walking four, and the organization doesn’t feel he’s ready right now. Since being promoted to Bowie, Bundy –in his first professional season — is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA over 16 2/3 innings, allowing 14 hits (three homers), three hit batsmen and eight walks against 19 strikeouts.

“Instructional league starts on the 12th [of September],” Showalter said of Bundy’s future. “What did he walk four guys last night? There’s some things, he’s at a level where he’s been challenged with, just like he got challenged more in [High-A] Frederick. He had some outings that weren’t [good]… I think the progression of his development has been great. Couldn’t ask for a better progression.”

The organization’s top pitching prospect –and one of baseball’s best up-and-coming arms — Bundy didn’t allow an earned run in 30 innings of Low A ball, then had a 2.84 ERA in 12 starts in Frederick before being promoted to Bowie. The organization has monitored his innings all season, initially wanting to keep him in the 125-130 range, although there’s indications he could go beyond that marker in instrux. Bundy has throw 103 2/3 innings so far.

Asked if the organization could call up Bundy in September just to expose him to the atmosphere, Showalter said in a perfect world, perhaps.

“Legally there’s some other things that happen if you do that,” he said. “Frankly what you got to ask yourself is does he have a chance to be on your club to start the season next year? And that kind of effects the way you look at it. Right now I want him to pitch his butt off and help Bowie win an Eastern League Championship. That’s where I want his mindset.  And then when that’s over, look forward to working on some weaknesses down in instructional league with some very good instructors.”

The Orioles could still callup player from Bowie, with right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter the most logical candidate. Prospect Mike Wright, who the organization selected in the third round of last year’s Draft, is also turning some heads.

Orioles vs. White Sox lineups and pregame notes

*Dylan Bundy will not be a September callup and will instead head to instructional league when his season for Double-A Bowie ends, according to manager Buck Showalter. The organization is happy with the 19-year-old Bundy’s progress, but right now don’t think he’s ready. Bundy pitched 5 1/3 innings last night, allowing a pair of runs and walking four. Bundy has made three starts since being promoted to Bowie, going 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA over 16 2/3 innings, allowing 14 hits (three homers), three hit batsmen and eight walks against 19 strikeouts.

The organization’s top pitching prospect, Bundy didn’t allow an earned run in 30 innings of Low A ball, then had a 2.84 ERA in 12 starts in High A before being promoted to Bowie.

*Randy Wolf is in Baltimore and is expected to throw sometime in the next day or two before being added to the Orioles’ roster. Showalter insisted that the lefty Wolf is being looked at a starter first, although it looks like a better fit to have him as the second lefty in the bullpen.

*Seven Orioles prospects are included in the Arizona Fall League and on the Mesa Solar Sox roster : pitchers Michael Belfiore, Chris Petrini, Clay Schrader and Mike Wright; catcher Brian Ward; infielder Jonathan Schoop; outfielder LJ Hoes. There’s currently an empty spot on the roster and Showalter said that the original plan was to have Manny Machado play in the AFL as well.

Here are your lineups…

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nate McLouth LF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Omar Quintanilla 2B
Manny Machado 3B

Joe Saunders LHP
WHITE SOX LINEUP
Dewayne Wise CF
Kevin Youkilis 2B
Adam Dunn DH
Paul Konerko 1B
Alex Rios RF
Dayan Viciedo RF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Tyler Flowers C
Gordon Beckham 2B

Dylan Axelrod RHP

Os taking deposits for ’13 season tickets with special postseason opportunity

The Baltimore Orioles announced today that the club is accepting deposits on 2013 season ticket plans and that fans placing a deposit will receive access to 2012 Postseason tickets. Fans who place a non-refundable $250 per seat deposit on a 2013 Full or Partial Season Ticket Plan (including 13-game plans) will be guaranteed the opportunity to purchase 2012 Orioles Postseason tickets before the general public.

Fans can place a deposit by visiting www.orioles.com/postseason or calling 1-888-848-BIRD. Plan type and seat location for 2013 season ticket plans will be finalized at a later date.

Current season plan holders do not need to place a deposit, as they have already been invoiced for 2012 Postseason tickets and will also receive an offer to purchase additional tickets prior to the general public.

Orioles vs White Sox lineups & pregame notes

*In case you missed it, the Orioles are expected to sign veteran Randy Wolf  a deal that will be made official after the left-handed pitcher  arrives in Baltimore. He was in transit this afternoon. It’s unclear how the Orioles will use Wolf, although it sounds as if they would prefer to use him in a relief role. Troy Patton (right ankle sprain) is not progressing as quickly as expected and the O’s have just one lefty reliever in Brian Matusz.

Patton did some pool running today at the team’s complex in Sarasota, Fla. and the hope is he can pick up a ball and start throwing in the next day or two.

*Joe Saunders is here and will be making his first start since Sunday’s trade on Wednesday. Zach Britton will start on Thursday with Miguel Gonzalez tentatively slated for Friday in New York. I say tentatively because he could be used in the bullpen before then, according to manager Buck Showalter.

*Wilson Betemit said all went well in testing his wrist with pregame batting practice yesterday and the expectation is he will do the same today and head out to join Double-A Bowie on a rehab assignment on Wednesday. Jason Hammel is still on schedule to throw five innings in his first –and perhaps only — rehab outing for Frederick on Saturday. Betemit could rejoin the team on Saturday, while Hammel is targeting Sept. 6.

*Jim Thome (herniated disk in his neck) has had his symptoms subside and if he continues to progress he will be cleared to swing a bat in the next two days. That’s good news for Thome, who was debating on getting a second epidural injection in the area.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Lew Ford DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Nate McLouth LF
Manny Machado 3B
Robert Andino 2B

Chris Tillman RHP

WHITE SOX LINEUP

DeWayne Wise CF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Adam Dunn DH
Paul Konerko 1B
Alex Rios RF
A.J. Pierzysnki C
Dayan Viciedo LF
Alexi Ramirez SS
Gordon Beckham 2B

Chris Sale LHP

Orioles host Casey Cares critically ill child

Casey Cares child Kevin B, his family and friend got VIP treatment at Camden Yards on Tuesday, taking a tour of the stadium, batting practice and special tickets to the game in advance of his ninth birthday.

Kevin, who suffers with rare blood disease LCH, got a day out and away from his treatment at Sinai Children’s Hospital and got to meet numerous Orioles.  It was also his first day of fourth grade.

The event is part of the Family Festivities Program of the Casey Cares Foundation, a charity that provides uplifting and ongoing programs with a special touch for critically ill children and their families.

“This is such an awesome afternoon for Kevin and his family to get away from their stressful routine,” stated Casey Baynes, Founder of Casey Cares.  “We are so grateful to the Orioles for making memories like this happen for Casey Cares children.  They are a great team on and off the field.”

 

Orioles vs. White Sox

*Jason Hammel threw 58 pitches in his second simulated game this afternoon and the plan is for him to go five innings on Saturday, likely for High-A Frederick. Hammel is on track to pitch for the Orioles as early as Sept. 6, depending on how Saturday goes, and he will likely go six innings in his first Major League start, manager Buck Showalter said.

*Joe Saunders is flying to Maryland today, and right-hander Jake Arrieta is still here and will be in the bullpen tonight. Saunders is expected to be officially added to the roster on Tuesday now, with the Orioles poised to make a roster move after the game to clear a spot. Arrieta, who came up yesterday to take the roster spot vacated by Matt Lindstrom, is the most likely candidate.

The Orioles Opening Day starter, Arrieta spoke a little bit this afternoon about his issues being mostly mental and how he’s worked to change his mindset over the past seven weeks.  I spoke with him at length earlier over the weekend about that and you can read that here. Pretty interesting stuff.

*Saunders will start Wednesday or Thursday with Zach Britton the other game. When I asked Showalter what this meant for Steve Johnson he said Johnson is still a candidate to get another start and he will stay away from using him in the bullpen tonight. The same goes for Miguel Gonzalez.

*Wilson Betemit is with the team and will take some swings during pregame batting practice today with the expectation being he will head out on a rehab assignment Wednesday and activated as early as Saturday.
ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Lew Ford DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Nate McLouth LF
Manny Machado 3B
Robert Andino 2B

Wei-Yin Chen LHP

WHITE SOX LINEUP
Dewayne Wise CF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Adam Dunn 1B
Paul Konerko DH
Alex Rios RF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Dayan Viciedo LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Gordon Beckham 2B

Francisco Liriano LHP

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.

Saunders on joining the Orioles

Joe Saunders held court with the Arizona media earlier today regarding his trade to Baltimore and here’s what he had to say…

[on the trade] “I’m excited to get traded to a playoff contending team, they are in the hunt right now so it’s going to be exciting. Plus my family is from there so I’ll get to go closer to home. I grew up an hour and a half south of Baltimore so it’s going to be exciting to hang out with them more and they’ll get a chance to see me pitch more.”

[on if he knew it was coming] “As soon as we went to a six-man rotation, I kind of figured I had a few more days here. It was definitely easier when you know you’re getting traded then when it comes out of left field. This was a little more easy to deal with and it made more sense for both sides.”

[on how he found out]  “They called me in the office last night and told me I’ve been traded but they can’t tell me to who. I said ‘I’ll just tell my wife I got traded but I don’t know who.’ Then [GM Kevin Towers] called me this morning and I found out.”

[on returning to the MD/VA area] “I was an O’s fan growing up, I went to a lot of their games when I was a kid.”

“I don’t know Buck [Showalter], I pitched against him a couple times, but he’s a good manager, a smart manager and I still know a lot of guys over there. I know  [Mark] Reynolds, I worked out with JJ Hardy in the offseason and I’ve pitched against Adam Jones basically my whole life so I know a few of those guys at least.”

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