September 2012

Orioles vs. Red Sox

*The Orioles announced that Adam Jones has been voted winner of the 2012 Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award by members of the local media who cover the team on a regular basis. Jones is the seventh Oriole to win the award in consecutive seasons, joining Frank Robinson (1966-67), Boog Powell (69-70), Jim Palmer (72-73), Eddie Murray (81-85), Cal Ripken, Jr. (90-91) and Rafael Palmeiro (95-96). He will be recognized for his accomplishments in an on-field ceremony prior to today’s home finale against the Boston Red Sox.

The Most Valuable Oriole Award is named in honor of the late Lou Hatter, a former sportswriter for the Baltimore Sun who covered the Orioles for 27 years.  Balloting for the Most Valuable Oriole Award is conducted with voting on a 5-3-1 basis. Jim Johnson and Matt Wieters also received first place votes. Johnson finished second and Wieters third in the voting. Wei-Yin Chen and Nick Markakis also received votes.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Jim Thome DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Manny Machado 3B

Joe Saunders LHP
RED SOX LINEUP
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Cody Ross RF
Mauro Gomez 1B
Danny Valencia 3B
Ryan Lavarnway C
Daniel Nava LF
Pedro Ciriaco DH
Jose Iglesias SS

Zach Stewart RHP

Orioles vs. Red Sox

Greetings from Camden Yards, where the Orioles have a chance to move back into a tie in the American League East. The Yankees lost to the Blue Jays earlier this afternoon and –while it was on one of the clubhouse TVs– there wasn’t a whole lot of interest until the ninth inning. The O’s have attested all year that they just have to take care of their business and there was also some golf and college football on with guys coming in and out during the afternoon.

*Matt Wieters is back in the lineup a day after his wife,Maria, gave birth to the couple’s first child, a son named Maverick Luther.

*Lew Ford is also back after missing a few games with a hip issue that he first felt on Sunday.

*Jason Hammel felt fine today and he is slated to throw a simulated game on Monday in the Orioles’ fall instructional league in Sarasota, Fla. The plan is for Hammel to pitch 4-5 innings and he could potentially be a candidate to throw later in the week (in the playoffs) if that scenario arises. Manager Buck Showalter said the team will discuss that further after Hammel’s outing.

*Joe Saunders will start Sunday’s game versus the Red Sox, with Wei-Yin Chen tentatively scheduled for Monday’s game. Showalter said Miguel Gonzalez also figures to start one of the other two games in Tampa Bay, although a lot of the rotation will depend on where the team is in terms of the postseason and/or a possible division title.

*In case you missed it, the Orioles claimed outfielder Steve Pearce on waivers from the Yankees earlier today. More on that here.

*The Brooks Robinson statue unveiling will be streamed live on Orioles.com and also be shown as part of the pregame show on MASN.

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

Steve Johnson RHP

RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Scott Posednik LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Cody Ross RF
Mauro Gomez 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Ryan Lavarnway DH
Pedro Ciriaco 3B
Mike Aviles SS

LHP Felix Doubront

A few more notes..

*Cal Ripken will be back with TBS for his 6th MLB Postseason and will shift from the studio to a game crew during the League Division Series. He’ll work with Ernie Johnson and John Smoltz during the Wild Card and Division Series and shift back to the studio alongside Matt Winer, Dennis Eckersley and David Wells.

*The Fanstache™ is back—now in iconic orange—giving fans a way to support The Orioles as they buck-the-odds and bring playoff baseball back to Baltimore. Last fall, the purple Fanstache™ became an instant emblem of Baltimore pride, giving fans a fun way to support the Baltimore Ravens, while raising over $10,000 for a local charity. This fall, the orange Fanstache™ will donate 10% of all proceeds to Casey Cares, a local non-profit that provides uplifting programs to critically ill children.

Individuals and groups can find vendor information or order their Fanstache™ at http://www.fanstache.com.

*On Saturday, September 29, Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson will be the sixth and final Oriole honored as part of the Orioles Legends Celebration Series. A larger-than-life bronze sculpture of Robinson will be revealed in a ceremony in the Legends Area beyond center field beginning at 5:15 p.m. All gates open at 5:00 p.m., and all fans in attendance will receive a replica of the sculpture. Robinson 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, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murry and Cal Ripken, Jr. Fans are encouraged to visit http://www.orioles.com/legends for more information on the the unveiling ceremonies. The ceremony will be on MASN and also streamed live on Orioles.com.

*In a special on-field ceremony tonight, Adam Jones was presented with a Key to the City by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Jones was recognized for his commitment to the city of Baltimore, particularly its youth. The Key to the City is the highest honor given by the Office of the Mayor and is reserved for esteemed residents and visitors. Youth from the Y of Central Maryland will also attend the ceremony as Jones has worked extensively with the organization and contributed $7,500 to them last year.

*The Oriole Advocates, Inc., with the cooperation and support of the Baltimore Orioles, have created The Oriole Way Award to recognize an Oriole player who has made significant contributions both on and off the field and who demonstrates a sincere willingness and desire to serve the community.  The award will be presented annually to a Baltimore Orioles player whose active participation in the community embraces the Oriole Advocates’ mission of promoting and stimulating interest in baseball.

The first winner of this award is pitcher Jim Johnson who will be presented with the award in an on-field ceremony prior to the Orioles game against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, September 30.

Orioles @ Red Sox lineups and pregame notes

Greetings from Camden Yards on the one-year anniversary of Game 162, one of the most memorable nights I’ve had on this job. The Orioles all got these shirts today  courtesy of outfielder Adam Jones, and a lot of the guys were wearing them during some early batting practice.

*Matt Wieters is not here and isn’t expected to be, as  he and wife, Maria, welcomed their first child, this morning. Maverick Luther Wieters was born at approximately 5:11 a.m. ET and manager Buck Showalter said Wieters is “where he should be”. There’s no word on whether Wieters will play on Saturday, but my guess is he does.

*Jason Hammel threw another bullpen session today –his second since having a setback in regards to his right knee injury– and he got up and down a few times so it felt more like a simulated game. Showalter said he isn’t sure what the next step is for Hammel just yet.

*Lew Ford is available to play today after an MRI on his hip (it was originally thought to be a groin issue) came back negative. He’s dealing with a bone bruise.

*J.J. Hardy is in the lineup and had the hangnail on his right middle finger removed, according to Showalter.

*Nick Markakis will have the pins removed from his left thumb early next week when the team goes to Tampa and will have more of a timeline after that. Wilson Betemit will also been seen by the hand specialist during the Tampa series and isn’t ruling out returning a possible return if the team goes deep into the postseason either.

*Nolan Reimold is here, and has been for the past few days according to Showalter, and Reimold is hopeful he will have a normal offseason. The O’s Opening Day left fielder, Reimold is waiting for the last part of the fusion from his neck surgery to be completed and is looking to be completely cleared in the next two or three months. Reimold is still working out and doing other things, but avoiding swinging or any herky-jerky motion while he waits for the full go-ahead. He did say he would like to potentially travel with the team in the postseason in a year that’s been pretty bittersweet with him watching the Orioles from his Florida home. Reimold last played the end of April.

Here are your lineups, with the Orioles entering today one game back of the Yankees in the American League East…

RED SOX LINEUP

Scott Podsednik CF
Pedro Ciriaco 3B
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Cody Ross RF
James Loney 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia DH
Ryan Lavarnway C
Daniel Nava LF
Jose Iglesias SS

Aaron Cook RHP

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Jim Thome DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Manny Machado 3B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Taylor Teagarden C

Chris Tillman RHP

ORIOLES LINEUP

O’s playing “with house money”

At one point earlier this season, some of the Orioles were looking at what was going on at Triple-A Norfolk — which had roster transactions at an even quicker rate than the big league club — with a mixture of awe and amusement.

“We were joking that we had a Triple-A All-Star team,” said outfielder/designated hitter Chris Davis, who has stayed in the Major Leagues the entire season for the first time since his big league debut in 2008. “That’s been a big reason we’ve been successful up here. Those guys have come up here and helped us out.”

Have they ever. Of Baltimore’s active 35-player roster — excluding injured players Jason Hammel, Wilson Betemit and Nick Markakis — 18 have played in the Minors this season, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone on the roster who hasn’t been instrumental in at least one O’s win.

So who are they, this cast of characters who have their sights set on the organization’s first postseason in 15 years?

***

Click here to read the rest of my off day story on Orioles.com about this eclectic mix of players and personalities.

Postgame notes and quotes

Since there was a lot of post-game chatter, here’s a few more notes and quotes heading into the off day following the Orioles’ 12-2 win.

*Shortstop J.J. Hardy  right middle finger –on his throwing hand– is blown up pretty good.  He said it started as a hangnail but it was enough for manager Buck Showalter to almost scratch him tonight.

“J.J.’s battling through a lot of things right now that most people would be sitting on the bench with,” Showalter said. “I had two lineups up until about 6:30 tonight. Last thing he told me is, ‘If you think I’m coming out with a bad finger…”

Hardy said he’s had to grip the ball a little differently to throw the last two days, and Thursday’s off day should help.

*Randy Wolf, who was in the dugout tonight, has the option to remain with the team according to Showalter. Wolf has not decided whether he will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ligament in his left elbow.

“I’m giving Randy that option, what he wants to do,” Showalter said. “He’s really wanting me to make the call and I will if he wants me to. He had an impact here. He got some big outs for us and pitched some innings we needed to be pitched well, and he’s a pro. Everything we looked into about fitting into what we think is a special fraternity in that clubhouse, we’re not just going to let anybody in, but he impacted this club and he continues to by being in there tonight, and if he wants to continue to be with us, that’s his call and I’ll support that.

He’s going to think about it tonight and tomorrow, and whatever he decides to do, he’ll do. He’s earned that right. There was some talk about getting an injection and if he got from both doctors that he couldn’t hurt it any worse and see if he could help us in some form or fashion. I told him the only way I’d ethically use him is if I knew for sure that he couldn’t hurt it any worse and it would be if we were a big margin behind. I just wanted to be frank with him. I don’t want to put his arm and his future and his day-to-day life in any jeopardy. So far they’re saying that couldn’t happen, but I’m not sure what kind of guy we’d get back with that, and the last thing we’re going to do is start sticking needles in there and doing things that aren’t right.”

*According to home run historian David Vincent, Jim Thome and Manny Machado represent the first pair of players in American League history, and the third in Major League history to homer in the same inning while having an age difference of 20 or more years. The other pairs were Julio Franco and Kelly Johnson with the Braves in 2005 and Orlando Cepeda and Hank Sauer of the Giants in 1958.

“I guess that’s something to be proud of, you are still playing,” Thome said with a laugh. “That’s the unique thing with baseball, you get the youth and you get the veteran I guess. It’s fun.

I think the unique thing of our club is all the guys we’ve brought up at a certain point during the year have stepped up and played a big part.  You know you get into this time of year, you can’t be a hero every at-bat, you can’t be the hero every night. You want to be. But it just doesn’t happen. But when you get guys to step up like we did tonight, hopefully we will get that momentum to carry [over]. If it’s two days if it’s seven, we will ride it out.”

“That’s crazy,” Machado said of the age difference note. “It’s a pretty good stat. I remember when I used to watch [Thome] play when I was a little kid. Now to hit a home run in the same inning he did, just feels great.”

*Lost somewhat in the seven home-run game –which tied a franchise record — was the performance of Gonzalez, who went seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits to lower his ERA to a 3.45.

“Miggy has been there for us. He stepped up again for us,” Showalter said. “I had a couple guys down in the bullpen I didn’t want to use. Those types of outings from the starter allow you to have a good bullpen, and that’s what we’ve done a better job with this year. As good as our bullpen has been, our starters have gotten deeper in the game a lot more consistently than in the past, and that’s what’s allowed our bullpen to use their strengths.”

Asked what allows him to keep his composure in big games like tonight, Gonzalez said: “Mentally being strong and I think the guys just motivate me every time I go out there. And making pitches is the most important thing.”

*Chris Davis homered twice tonight to bring his total to nine homers against the Blue Jays this season, the most in Orioles history in a single-season against Toronto.

“I think if you’d have told us a few months ago that we’d be a game and a half out with six games left, I think you’d be pretty happy with that,” Davis said. “We just got through playing Boston and we played them well. Obviously, the three in Tampa are going to be tough, but we’re at a point where we still have a chance, so that’s all you can ask for.”

Deion takes BP & Orioles/Jays lineups (updated)

Deion Sanders is here today, and he suited up in a locker next to Adam Jones with jersey #21. Sanders, who played for manager Buck Showalter at Double-A Albany, took pregame batting practice and some throws. Here are some pictures I took…

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*Randy Wolf is done for the year, with a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and the Orioles have selected the contract of infielder/outfielder Bill Hall in his palce. Hall has been playing at the team’s fall instructional league in Sarasota, Fla.

Minor League Player of the Year LJ Hoes may be sent out soon to start getting regular playing time in the Arizona Fall League. Outfielder Lew For’s groin injury is improved today, according to Showalter.

*Does Jason Hammel, who threw off a mound for the first time yesterday, need to start a regular season game before the team decides to use him in a potential playoff matchup? In a perfect world, yes, but not necessarily Showalter said. Hammel said today his right knee felt good today and the team is still deciding the next step, whether it’s another bullpen session or a simulated game.

*The rotation for the Boston series is Chris Tillman, Steve Johnson and Joe Saunders, although it’s tentative and subject to change. Wei-Yin Chen could possibly start one of those last two games and Showalter hasn’t made anything concrete just yet.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Jim Thome DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Manny Machado 3B

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

BLUE JAYS LINEUP

Brett Lawrie 3B
Colby Rasmus CF
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Yunel Escobar SS
Adam Lind 1B
Rajai Davis RF
Omar Vizquel 2B
J.P. Arencibia C
Anthony Gose LF

Carlos Villanueva RHP

SI: “The Unlikely Sports Capital”

The Orioles are on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Oct. 1 issue with articles on Nationals manager Davey Johnson and Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. The headline on the cover of the national magazine is “The Unlikely Sports Capital” and the story on the O’s is called Down to the Wire and is written by David Simon, the creator of the hit Baltimore-based television series The Wire.

Here’s the picture.

(Photo above will be the cover of Sports Illustrated Oct 1 issue. Courtesy of SI.com)

Orioles vs. Blue Jays lineups and pregame notes

*Jason Hammel threw 35 pitches off a mound, his first time up on the mound since having a setback with his right knee, and he was encouraged afterward. Hammel said he was surprised he was able to go 35 pitches and didn’t feel any fatigue and discomfort in his knee until the last few pitches. The team is still hoping Hammel will be able to pitch this season and they will see how he comes through tomorrow before proceeding further. But having Hammel up on the mound is certainly a step in the right direction.

*Lew Ford has been dealing with a groin injury, he felt it running in Sunday’s game in Boston, and was not available to play in yesterday’s doubleheader. He’s also not in tonight’s lineup, as the team tries to get in front of that issue. Manager Buck Showlater said Ford is still available to him off the bench in a certain capacity.

*Dylan Bundy and LJ Hoes will be honored in an on-field pregame ceremony today with Bundy being named the organization’s Pitcher of the Year and Hoes the Player of the Year.

*Randy Wolf had an MRI on his left elbow today and it doesn’t look to be good news. The team isn’t divulging much information although Showalter said there’s an option that involves Wolf pitching again this season. He will meet with team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens again along with Dr. Lewis Yocum, who did his Tommy John surgery about seven years ago. Nothing is imminent with Wolf, who declined to speak with reporters until after Showalter had.

*Nick Markakis has his cast changed to a lighter version and he continues to remain on schedule. He will have the pins removed from his thumb during the Tampa Bay series early next week.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 1B
Chris Davis RF
Manny Machado 3B
Steve Tolleson DH
Robert Andino 2B

Joe Saunders LHP

BLUE JAYS LINEUP

Brett Lawrie 3B
Colby Rasmus CF
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Yunel Escobar SS
Yan Gomes 1B
Rajai Davis RF
Adeiny Hechavarria 2B
J.P. Arencibia C
Anthony Gose LF

Aaron Laffey LHP

Orioles vs. Blue Jays Game 1 of 2

Greetings from Baltimore, where the Orioles will play a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays. Baltimore enters the day a game behind the New York Yankees for the American League East lead and could make up some ground with these two games today. The O’s are coming off a 6-3 road trip with series wins in Oakland, Seattle and Boston.

In case you missed it, Dylan Bundy made his debut yesterday at Fenway Park in the Orioles’ 2-1 loss. My colleague Doug Miller, also wrote about Chris Davis’ crazy year and how much being a regular player has helped him since coming to Baltimore at last year’s Trade Deadline. You can read that here.

*Pitcher Randy Wolf has been dealing with left elbow discomfort since the last inning of his start on Saturday at Fenway Park and he saw see team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens today to decide a plan. Manager Buck Showalter said it sounds like they’re leaning toward giving Wolf a Cortisone shot, which would shut him down for a few days, and he will also get an MRI on the area Tuesday morning. The team is hoping to have Wolf available by Friday.

*Matt Wieters and wife, Maria, are expecting their first child any day now and Showalter said the plan is for her labor to be induced during Thursday’s off day. That’s the best-case scenario although, obviously, things can change.

*Nick Markakis (broken thumb) is “just around the corner” from being put in a splint and he will see the same doctor he performed the surgery during the team’s last regular season series in Tampa next week.

*Wilson Betemit (right wrist injury) is with the team and in a protective brace. While he’s likely done for the season, Showalter said Monday he’s not completely ruling out the possibility of Betemit’s return if the team makes the postseason.

Here are your lineups, with Wei-Yin Chen starting the night game…
ORIOLES LINEUP
Nate McLouth LF
J.J Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Jim Thome DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Manny Machado 3B

Steve Johnson RHP

BLUE JAYS LINEUP
Brett Lawrie 3B
Colby Rasmus CF
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Adam Lind 1B
Rajai Davis RF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Adeiny Hechavarria SS
Jeff Mathis C
Anthony Gose LF

Henderson Alvarez RHP

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