September 2012

Bundy debuts

Dylan Bundy made his professional debut following lefty Brian Matusz with one out in the eighth inning and a runner on second base in the Orioles’ 2-1 loss to the Red Sox. The 19-year-old Bundy, the first Oriole to debut before his 20th birthday since Mike Adamson July 1, 1967, got a pair of fly outs from Ryan Lavarnway and Danny Valencia to end the inning.

The Orioles’ first-round pick in last year’s Draft, and considered one of baseball’s best overall prospects, Bundy’s fastball topped out at 95 mph and he threw a pair of sliders to Valencia, which looked perhaps like his banned cutter pitch. Manager Buck Showalter smiled as he told reporters they were, in fact, sliders and terminology is everything.

I’ll have a full story on Bundy up soon on Orioles.com, but here’s what he had to say to us reporters in the visitng clubhouse at Fenway Park.

[on waiting for this moment his whole life] “I was nervous at first, when I threw that first pitch I was hoping it would be a strike. But after that first pitch I felt a whole lot better about the whole thing.”

[what was the run out from the bullpen like?] “It was a lot longer run than I thought I’d be and  I looked up at [manager Buck Showalter], and he said ‘Get us out of the inning,’ and I did my best. I threw strikes and was able to get two pop-outs.”

[on having any nerves] “Not really on the mound, my legs were kind of a little bit light. But then when I got to the dugout my hands were shaking. Other than that, it was pretty good.”

[family here still?] “No, they went home the first game [in Boston]. Didn’t have anyone here tonight. They are coming back up to Baltimore.”

[on potential cutters to Valencia being called sliders] “Yeah, [it was a] slider not a cutter.”

[Did facing the Red Sox in spring training help?] “I was telling the bullpen guys I thought it might help a little bit, facing [Dustin] Pedroia, [Jacoby] Ellsbury and [Adrian] Gonzalez. But, no, it didn’t help at all. I was still nervous.”

[glad it’s over with?] “Yeah, definitely good to get the first two outs. Getting the first two outs satisfies me a little bit and hopefully the next time I won’t be as nervous.”

[on the last few days not knowing if he would pitch] “As a bullpen guy you never know when you are going in, especially me. I didn’t know what situation I would be in. [Fellow reliever] Tommy Hunter answered the phone and told me I was going in. I said, ‘What?’ and I couldn’t find my glove, took me about a minute to find it. And he told me to get going. So, I was like, ok its happening and I got loose as quick as I would.”

[was he warmed up enough?] “Yeah, I mean I said I was good to the bullpen coach. I don’t know if I was loose or not, but I was ready to go out there and throw.”

Orioles @ Red Sox lineups and pregame notes

*The Orioles set their rotation for the Toronto series, with right-hander Steve Johnson throwing Game 1 Monday and Wei-Yin Chen throwing Game 2. Tuesday will be Joe Saunders and Wednesday Miguel Gonzalez.

*Robert Andino is back in the Orioles lineup after missing yesterday’s game. Manager Buck Showalter said he planned on talking to Andino, who was pretty upset still yesterday about being hit in the helmet with a pitch Friday night.

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

Chris Tillman RHP

RED SOX LINEUP:
Scott Podsednik CF
Pedro Ciriaco 2B
Dustin Pedroia DH
Cody Ross RF
James Loney 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Danny Valencia 3B
Daniel Nava LF
Jose Iglesias SS

Felix Doubront LHP

Andino on the HBP

Orioles second baseman Robert Andino, speaking to the media for the first time since taking a pitch to the helmet in Friday night’s win, said after Saturday’s game was still visibly upset about Mark Melancon’s 94-mph fastball going awry.

Asked if he thought the pitch was intentional, Andino said: “At this level, man I think should you have command of your pitches. But, whatever.”

But what about the possibility that Boston wanted some retribution on Andino, who infamously uttered after his two-out ninth-inning walkoff RBI “End of season like this, [to] make Boston go home sad, crying, I’ll take it all day,” after Tampa Bay’s walk-off moments later effectively ended the Red Sox season.

“If that’s the case, that’s bull[--], how I see it,” Andino said. “But, whatever.”

Andino has had two concussion tests since the incident, and was what manager Buck Showlater called not “in the right frame of mind” for Friday’s night test. A CT scan Friday night came back negative and Andino will get another concussion test before Sunday’s game to determine his availability.

“It got him in the earflap and the neck some, he had a pretty good welt there,” Showalter said of Andino prior to Saturday’s game. “He’s not happy today, not playing. But as soon as he passes the concussion test…I’m hoping we get good results from that and he’s back in the lineup [on Sunday].”

Andino, who went 2-for-2 with a walk on Friday, was visibly upset after the pitch knocked off his helmet — taking a few steps toward the mound while waving off head athletic trainer Richie Bancells from the dugout.

Showalter also came out to help diffuse the situation Friday night. After Andino reached first base and conferred with Showalter and Bancells for a few minutes, he was removed for pinch-runner Omar Quintanilla. Andino was alert and awake the entire time, and walked off the field without assistance. Following Andino’s exit, home-plate umpire Mark Wegner issued warnings to both clubs.

“I feel normal,” said Andino, “I could have stayed in the game yesterday. But it’s precautionary.”

Orioles @ Red Sox lineups and pregame notes

*Robert Andino is not in this afternoon’s lineup, as the team is still waiting on him to pass a concussion test and wanted to err on the cautious side. Andino had a CT scan that came through fine last night after taking a two-strike pitch to the side of his batting helmet. He’s got a nice little welt in that area and said this morning he felt fine, but the team is just

*Monday’s starters are still up in the air, although Wei-Yin Chen is expected to pitch one of the two games and manager Buck Showlater has expressed a preference to mix it up and go with a right-hander in the other game, meaning either Steve Johnson or Jake Arrieta. Tuesday is also TBD, although it looks like Joe Saunders will make that start and Miguel Gonzalez could be Wednesday.

*Pedro Strop was not available in last night’s game, which is why Darren O’Day went two innings. Strop was “crispy” according to Showalter, who said it wasn’t a serious health issue but the team wanted to give him back-to-back rest days. Strop has been struggling in the setup role but the team doesn’t think it’s fatigue and remain optimistic he will return to form.

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

Randy Wolf LHP

RED SOX LINEUP
Pedro Ciriaco DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Cody Ross RF
Ryan Lavarnway C
Mauro Gomez 1B
Mike Aviles SS
Danny Valencia 3B
Daniel Nava LF
Scott Podsednik CF

Aaron Cook RHP

Orioles @ Red Sox

Greetings from Fenway Park, where the Orioles will open a three-game set in Boston tonight.

*Jason Hammel made some progress today, getting about halfway up the mound for the first time since having a setback with that right knee. He said there’s still a little discomfort in his knee and he won’t get all the way up on the mound until that’s out of there. Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair is also working with Hammel to maybe tweak his delivery and take some pressure off of that knee. Hammel said again today he doesn’t think his season is over.

*Randy Wolf will start Saturday’s game with Chris Tillman pitching Sunday. Monday’s doubleheader will be Wei Yin Chen and to be decided. And, no, Dylan Bundy is not an option. He’s here as a relief candidate and will be used as needed. Why Wolf? He had a good start here last year and lefties during day game at Fenway Park can be tricky, according ot manager Buck Showalter.

*As expected both reliever Troy Patton and designated hitter Jim Thome were reinstated from the disabled list today.

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

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

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

Jon Lester LHP

A few off day notes

A few notes before the Orioles open a three-game series against the Red Sox on Friday…

*The Orioles have been one of baseball’s feel-good stories this year and perhaps no one embodies that more than 28-year-old rookie Miguel Gonzalez, who is making his first career start at Fenway Park tomorrow night. You can read my feature on Gonzalez, how he came to the Orioles and how his career was nearly derailed  by injuries, here.

*Since I’ve been asked a few times, the Orioles rotation after Gonzalez will be Tillman on Sunday and TBD on Saturday. The O’s are leaning toward lefty Zach Britton, although Randy Wolf and Jake Arrieta are also possibilities.

*Missed the pair of spectacular catchers in the outfield by Nate McLouth and Endy Chavez last night? You can watch them here.

*Dylan Bundy, who was promoted before yesterday’s game in Seattle, will stay with the team for the rest of the regular season. How will he be used? At first, manager Buck Showalter will try to get him into a low pressure situation –if there are any given how important every game is — but don’t be surprised if Bundy plays a big role in the team’s remaining games particularly with right-handed setup man Pedro Strop struggling. The O’s have other options with Darren O’Day pitching in some big spots over the weekend, and lefty Brian Matusz has emerged as a solid late-inning option as well.

*Lefty reliever Troy Patton and designated hitter Jim Thome are expected to be activated before tomorrow’s game. MLB.com columnist Anthony Castrovince wrote about Thome’s chance at a ring here.

*Per a team release: In recognition of the final Orioles Legends Celebration Series being held on Saturday, September 29, the Orioles today unveiled a sweepstakes designed to celebrate the impact Brooks Robinson has had on the Birdland community. The sweepstakes was inspired by former Baltimore Sun writer Gordon Beard’s quote, “Brooks never asked anyone to name a candy bar after him. In Baltimore, people named their children after him.”

Five fans with the first or middle name of Brooks will be chosen to win two tickets to the upcoming Brooks Robinson Legends Series Celebration game on September 29, as well as special access to the sculpture unveiling itself.

Fans with a first or middle name of Brooks who are current residents of Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia or West Virginia who are over 18 are eligible to enter. The winners will be required to show valid I.D.  To enter, visit http://www.orioles.com/brooks beginning today until September 25 at 11:59 p.m. No purchase necessary to enter or win. The winners will be notified within 24 hours of the conclusion of the sweepstakes. Travel and accommodations are not included.

Orioles @ Mariners lineups and pregame notes

Greetings from Seattle, where the Orioles are fresh off a late night (or early morning) win over the Mariners. You can read about that here.

*It’s Dylan Bundy Day around here, with the 19-year-old Bundy arriving in Seattle earlier this afternoon and holding court with the media. I’ll have a full story up on Bundy shortly on Orioles.com and you can read his quotes here.

*Brian Matusz went to the emergency room after last night’s game after having an allergic reaction to something he ate. Matusz is OK today and is available to pitch if needed, although manager Buck Showalter would like to stay away from him and a few other guys if he possible.

*Thee Orioles will give Chris Tillman an extra day of rest and have him pitch Sunday’s game in Boston. The option for Saturday afternoon’s start are Jake Arrieta, Randy Wolf and Zach Britton, with the lefties Wolf and Britton more likely.

Here are your lineups…

ORIOLES LINEUP
Endy Chavez RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nate McLouth LF
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Manny Machado 3B
Robert Andino 2B
Taylor Teagarden C

Joe Saunders LHP

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

Felix Hernandez RHP

It’s Bundy time

Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy arrived in Seattle and got to the park at 1 p.m. Pacific Time, after hopping an early morning flight out of Sarasota. The 19-year-old Bundy –who will wear uniform No. 49 — has a corner locker in the Mariners’ visiting clubhouse and he was frequented by trips from teammates, coming over to congratulate him and welcome him. A lot of the current Orioles already know Bundy, who was with the team in Spring Training, and he’s also played with fellow rookie Manny Machado.

I’ll have full coverage up on Bundy on Orioles.com shortly, but here is what he had to say to the small contingent of us in Seattle.

[What was the call to your parents like?] “I called my mom and dad five times each and none of them answered. My pitching coach in high school actually answered at 4 in the morning first. He was the first to know. But my parents, I called them again about 5:30 and they answered. And they put it on speakerphone and I told my parents together. The next thing you know they are on a plane here.”

[When did you get the call?] “I got it at 3:45 a.m. My roommate, Joe Oliveira, answered the phone and told me it was Brian Graham and he told me I was on a plane at 7 a.m. and I was going to pitch here in Seattle. So I said, ‘Are you messing with me? And he said, ‘No, I’m not going to mess with you at 4 in the morning.’ So next thing I know I’m at the airport and on my way to Seattle.”

[on if this is surreal moment] “It didn’t get that way until I saw the archway at Safeco Field in the cab today. That’s really went it hit me I guess.”

[What are your thoughts on taking the big league mound for the first time?]“Just slow the game down. I know it is going to be quick out there for the first couple minutes or so, but just slow everything down and realize it’s the same game it was in Bowie. Just a little bit more people in the stands.”

[What was your reaction a few weeks ago when Buck Showalter said you likely wouldn’t be coming up?] “I was focused on going to instructional league anyway. Them actually saying in the media that I’m not getting called up, just made me want to work even harder to get there next year. And go down to instructional league and work on some timings to home plate and work on my curveball. And then, you know, not expecting it, I get a call.

[on being with the team in the spring helping the transition] “Yeah, definitely. I was a lot more nervous the first day of spring training than I was today coming into the locker room. Because I knew some of the guys a little bit on a personal level and the other guys I knew their names.

[Why do you think you can handle this?] “I have the confidence to. If you keep the ball down I’m not going to get hurt even if they do get a hit. You’ve just got to go back out there and focus and get the next guy. I have all the pitches I need to have. I’ve just got to throw them for strikes and get the guy out.”

[on adjusting to the bullpen given his infamous preparation, which includes 300-feet long toss]“I just thought about that about 30 minutes ago. Maybe I need to go play catch with [center fielder] Adam Jones in the fifth or sixth inning. [Laughs.] If I can do that, I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m going to have to do, but I think the adrenaline, the stadium, the team, the big leagues, I think I’ll have enough energy to get going.”

[on it being easier to have top position prospect, 20-year-old Manny Machado here with him] “Definitely, me and him have known each other for two years, now…You know, him being the same age as me is pretty neat. Him being on the same team and being able to relate to what’s going on and what the process is going to be.  How the game is going to be handled.”

“Two teenagers, well I’m a teenager, Machado is in his twenties now. That’s what I’m here to do is help the team win. And Machado is too.”

[on the reception from the other Oriole relievers] “It’s been great. Those guys have welcomed me pretty well, they all welcomed me. And congratulated me, shook my hand. I’m excited to throw, if I throw tonight.”

[on what happened] “About 3:45 a.m. [after the call], basically Brian Graham told me to meet him in the lobby at 5:15. I was down at the lobby at 415. I was ready to go. At the AmericInn [in Sarasota, Fla.]. Next thing you know I had to get back up to my room to get my phone charger.  I had to go back up to it again to get my toiletry bag. I was definitely rushing a little bit to get going on that plane. Then we went to the field to get my baseball stuff.”

[is he always this forgetful?] “No, never.  I’m sure I forgot some things, too.”

[on the curveball being the pitch he’s still working on] “Just [be] more consistent. It’s got good depth to it, but just be more consistent with it.”

[on if he has done away with the cutter, which the organization took away this season] “No, it’s not out of my repertoire. I’ve always had it. I’ve thrown it in bullpens. Ever since spring training I’ve kept it in my back pocket. I still have a feel for it. If it comes to that time and I feel like I can throw it for a strike, I’m gonna.”

[Bundy was told that John Smoltz said on MLB Network to go pretend like he’s pitching in a Double-A game]

“That’s good advice. That’s all it is is 60 feet, six inches. Same at Double-A Bowie.”

What was on Tommy Hunter’s hat? And other facts from the win

The Orioles just finished a marathon 18-inning win -you can read about it here –over the Seattle Mariners, the kind of victory that had even typically-stoic manager Buck Showalter pretty poetic.

“You’d be real picky to not find something to be proud of in that game,” Showalter said after the team’s longest game this season put them in a first-place tie in the AL East with the Yankees. “Just when I think they can’t top something, they do.”

And what was on top of reliever Tommy Hunter’s hat? One of the seagulls that flocked around Safeco Field late tonight decided to relieve itself on Hunter’s hat, and the always quotable Hunter — who tossed two scoreless innings to pick up the win — told the story to the few reporters still around.

“I was minding my own business, not doing anything,” Hunter said. “I thought it was [Luis] Ayala throwing stuff at me. You know, he usually does. So I didn’t know what it was. I just thought someone threw a piece of gum and hit me. It wasn’t a piece of gum, man. Everybody just started dying laughing.  Then everybody said it was good luck. Then we won.”

The bird had some pretty good timing, getting Hunter while he was warming up in the bullpen.

“It went [plop] and I looked at it and everyone started laughing,” Hunter said. “I had bird [droppings] on my head…I love it. It’s my favorite hat. It sucks. It’s terrible.  I don’t even know where it is, but it’s going somewhere. It [went to the bathroom] on my head.”

Asked why he didn’t grab another hat before heading out to the mound for the bottom of the 17th, Hunter said: “I have 7 5/8’s. I got a huge dome. A large landing zone, I guess. I don’t know. That was wild. I’ve never been [gone to the bathroom] on before…But, no it was fun. Good game, good team won. It’s something we’ve done time and time again, just thankful we ended it in the 18th. Because I don’t know if we had any more arms out there.”

A few facts from tonight’s game…

*The Orioles have won 14 consecutive extra-innings contests, the longest extra-innings win streak since the 1949 Cleveland Indians won 19 straight.

*The bullpen tossed nine scoreless innings in extras and has a 0/82 ERA i extra innings this season, allowing five earned runs over 55 innings.

*The Orioles have played more than 14 innings five times this season and are a perfect 5-0 in those games. Tuesday’s win marked the fifth game in team history that was 18 or more innings, the first since August 25, 1969 vs. the Boston Red Sox.

*The Orioles now have won seven consecutive games over the Mariners and have an American League-leading 42 road wins.

Orioles @ Mariners lineups and pregame notes

*Jim Thome and Troy Patton are expected to be activated on Friday and join the team in Boston, barring any setbacks. Patton threw two innings today –his second rehab outing in instructional league– and faced Thome, who got one of two hits off Patton. The plan is for Patton to take off Wednesday and face a couple hitters Thursday before heading to Boston.

Thome will play in another game on Wednesday taking 4-5 at-bats, and will do the same thing on Thursday.

*Speaking of fall instructional league, the Orioles have sent Bill Hall and Joe Mahoney down there, joining catcher Ronny Paulino, as possible reinforcement for September.  With Mark Reynolds dealing with a sore bicep (he’s been playing through it) and catcher Matt Wieters’ wife, Maria, due to induce labor soon, the team is making sure all their options are covered and trying to take advantage of roster expansions to help keep them covered.

Mahoney is on the 40-man, but Paulino and Hall are not and would need to be added if they come up.

*Miguel Gonzalez will start Friday’s game in Boston with last night’s starter, Chris Tillman, slated to start either Saturday or Sunday.

*Closer Jim Johnson has been recognized as the Orioles representative for the Roberto Clemente Award, an honor that recognizes a player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

*The Orioles will host Minor League Affiliate Appreciation Night on Tuesday, Sept. 25 for their 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Blue Jays. The night will honor the Orioles affiliates and will include a pregame ceremony revealing the 2012 award winners for Player Development and Scouting, including the Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year and the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The O’s have extended a special discount ticket offer to fans of each of the Orioles affiliate teams for select lower level seats. Fans who still need to purchase their tickets should contact their local affiliate for details on the discount offer.Five affiliates will be represented and honored at the game: the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, Double-A Bowie Baysox, Single-A Frederick Keys, Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds and short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds.

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

Wei-Yin Chen LHP

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

Erasmo Ramirez RHP

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