December 2012

Orioles invite trio to big league camp

The Orioles announced the signing of a trio of players to Minor League contracts on Wednesday afternoon in first baseman Travis Ishikawa and left-handed pitchers Daniel  and Zach Braddock.

All three have been invited to Major League Spring Training, bringing Baltimore’s total to 11 non-roster players who will be in big league camp in Sarasota, Fla.

The 29-year-old Ishikawa hit .257/.329/.428 in 94 games with Milwaukee in 2012, making 27 starts at first base. Prior to that, he spent parts of four seasons with San Francisco, posting a .265/.327/.400 line with 15 home runs and 80 RBIs in 281 games.  Against right-handed pitching, Ishikawa is a career .266/.333/.416 with 18 home runs in 741 plate appearances.

Schlereth made six appearances with Detroit last season, allowing eight earned runs in seven innings pitched for a 10.29 ERA before being non-tendered in November. The 26-year-old posted a 2.79 ERA in 9 2/3 innings pitched in 11 Minor League games. A former first-round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in ’08, Schlereth has held left-handed hitters to a .213/.320/.368 line in 184 plate appearances.

Braddock was released by Milwaukee in May and did not pitch last season because of undisclosed personal issues. The 25-year-old pitched to a 7.27 ERA in 25 games in 2011, spending time on the disabled list to get treatment for a sleep disorder and missing most of the second half.  Braddock went 1-3 with a 4.41 ERA, allowing 25 earned runs over 51 innings pitched, in parts of two seasons for the Brewers. He has held left-handed hitters to a .185/.313/.296 line and 28 strikeouts in 99 plate appearances.

Os to hold 3rd Annual Birdland Golf Classic

The Orioles will hold the 3rd Annual OriolesREACH Birdland Golf Classic at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club on Feb. 20 to benefit the Miracle League of Manasota, an organization dedicated to providing an opportunity for every person to play baseball, regardless of their ability. The event begins with registration and lunch at 11 a.m. with a shotgun start set for 12:30 p.m.

The classic will feature a silent auction and the chance to play a round with current and former Orioles players and coaches. Manager Buck Showalter and current Orioles Jim Johnson, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are among those scheduled to attend.

Registration is now open for golfers and corporate partners. There are multiple levels of participation available, including MVP Sponsor packages which consist of recognition as a presenting sponsor, a foursome with the opportunity to select your Orioles playing partner, four infield box seats to a 2013 Orioles Spring Training game, and more.  Since its inception, the Birdland Golf Classic has raised more than $56,000 for the Miracle League of Manasota.

For the 14,000 school-aged children with disabilities and their adult counterparts in Sarasota and Manatee counties, a synthetically surfaced baseball field with all the requisite amenities was built last year in Longwood Park, just off University Parkway in Sarasota. Sarasota County committed $500,000 to the capital improvement of Longwood Park, while the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates contributed $150,000 for the field. The opening game of the Miracle League of Manasota was held on March 17, 2012. For more information, visit http://www.miracleleaguemanasota.org.

For more information or to register for the golf event, contact the Miracle League of Manasota at (941) 225-2966 or info@miracleleaguemanasota.org. The entry deadline is Wednesday, February 6.

Babe’s Birthday Bash slated for Feb. 8

The Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation will host its annual “Babe’s Birthday Bash” on Friday, February 8, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards.  The event will celebrate the 118th anniversary of Ruth’s birth in Baltimore on February 6, 1895.

Tickets to the event are $45 each for members of the Museum; $55 apiece for the general public when purchased in advance; and $60 each at-the-door on the night of the event. Ten or more tickets purchased together are discounted at $40 each. The evening will include admission to Sports Legends Museum’s galleries; unlimited ballpark inspired food and beverages; a silent auction; appearances by local professional and amateur athletes and free parking at Camden Yards.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation. Tickets are available by calling Whitney Edmonds at 410-727-1539 ext. 3033 or online at www.BabeRuthMuseum.org.

Orioles to release season highlight DVD (plus note on Duquette)

The Orioles announced plans Friday to release a season highlight DVD titled “The BUCKle Up Birds: An Underdog Story” in mid-January 2013. The DVD chronicles the best moments of 2012, from the club’s off-season moves through the organization’s first postseason appearance in 15 years.

The DVD, which is being produced in house by the award-winning Orioles Productions, will include both in-game footage and off-field interviews of key moments throughout the year, from dramatic wins to each of the six Orioles Legends Celebration Series unveilings. Additional bonus content includes footage from the Orioles’ post-game Wild Card celebration.

The expected ship date for “The BUCKle Up Birds” is mid-January, but fans may pre-order the DVD now at www.orioles.com/buckleup for $25, including shipping and handling. The DVD will also be shown and made available for purchase at Orioles FanFest on January 19, 2013 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

A 60-second trailer for the upcoming release can be seen now at www.orioles.com/buckleup. Fans are encouraged to tweet their review of the coming attraction by using the hashtag #BUCKleUp.

***

The Delmarva Shorebirds –the Orioles’ Class-A affiliate– have announced that executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will be the keynote speaker at the 12th Annual Shorebirds Hot Stove Banquet.

The banquet will run from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at the Delmar VFW and will also include a buffet dinner. The price for the hot stove banquet is $33 per person and you can contact Shawn Schoolcraft at 410-219-3112 for more info and group rates.

Dickerson named 3b coach, McLouth official

The Orioles have named Bobby Dickerson third base coach.

Dickerson, 47, spent the last three seasons as the Orioles’ Minor League Infield Coordinator and has been a minor league coach or manager for the last 20 years in the Orioles, Diamondbacks and Cubs organizations.

“Bobby has been in this organization for eight years as a coach and three as a player and he is regarded as one of the best infield instructors in the game,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who managed Dickerson for two seasons (1987-88) in the Yankees organization, said in a statement. “Bobby’s been with our major league club the last two Septembers and during spring training so he is familiar with our personnel, he has experience in Latin America and has been around a lot of winning teams. It is also great to be able to promote from within the organization.”

The Orioles also made official the signing of Nate McLouth to a one-year contract for 2013. Their 40-man roster is now full.

Contract details: Casilla, Pearce Teagarden and Reynolds w/ the Indians

The Orioles are expected to make Nate McLouth’s one-year contract official later today, with the outfielder flying home after taking a physical in Baltimore. In the meantime, here are some contract details for currently signed players…

To jog your memory, the O’s avoided arbitration with a trio of players in Alexi Casilla, Steve Pearce and Taylor Teagarden and non-tendered Mark Reynolds a few hours short of the Nov. 30 deadline. Reynolds recently signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Indians and his details are below, along with the other three.

Casilla, claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Twins, will make $1.7 million in 2013, with a club option for 2014 for $3 million or a $200,000 buyout. Pearce, who was also claimed off waivers, agreed to a one-year deal worth $700,000. Teagarden, the Orioles’ backup to catcher Matt Wieters, agreed to a one-year deal worth $650,000 for 2013, plus (for each on the active roster): $12,500 for 140 days; $12,500 for 168 days.

Reynolds signed for $6 million with incentives that could escalate up to $7.5. Those bonuses are as follows: $250,000 for 400 plate appearances, $250,000 for 450 PAs, $250,000 for 500 PA, $250,000 for 550 PA, $250,000 for 575 PA and $250,000 for 600 P. Plus: $100,000 for MVP ($75,000-2nd thru 3rd; $50,000-4th thru 5th); $50,000 for All Star; $50,000 for Gold Glove; $50,000 for Silver Slugger; $50,000 for World Series MVP; $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP.

Hoes hosting holiday toy drive

Orioles outfielder LJ Hoes will be hosting a toy drive and holiday mixer on Saturday, December 22 at Big Play Sports Grill with donations and proceeds benefiting the St. Ann’s Center for Children Youth and Families.

The mixer, which goes from 2-6 p.m., is free to attend and those who donate toys will get access to food and beverage specials at the restaurant, which is located at 7313 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, Md.

Hoes will be personally collecting the donations and the event will also feature an auction of signed valuables courtesy of various professional football and baseball players including Hoes, Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones and Ravens LaQuan Williams.

St. Ann’s is a home for abused, neglected, and abandoned children and pregnant and parenting teenage women.

Reynolds signs with Indians

The Cleveland Indians have agreed to a one-year contract with infielder Mark Reynolds for 2013, as the two sides reached a deal on Sunday evening, according to a source.

Reynolds, who was non-tendered by the Orioles last month, will get a base salary of $6 million with another $1.5 million in incentives and is expected to play first base for the Tribe .The 29-year-old made 7.5 million with Baltimore last season and amid a thin free-agent class of first basemen, Reynolds — who would have made around $9 million in arbitration — was willing to return to the O’s, but not at a significantly reduced salary.

The Orioles never offered Reynolds any type of deal, preferring to “let the market play out” for his services instead and several teams expressed interest in Reynolds at last week’s Winter Meetings. One of them was Cleveland, which has its Spring Training facility in Arizona and will allow Reynolds to live home during big league camp. While Baltimore is still looking to add a middle-of-the-order bat, the club’s top internal choice at first base for 2013 is Chris Davis.

After starting the 2012 season at third base, Reynolds — who committed six errors in 40 chances — was moved across the diamond and worked hard to turn himself into an above-average first baseman. Frequently taking some good-natured ribbing for his tendency to never stay on his feet, he became adept at picking balls in the dirt and making excellent scoops, resulting in a .995 fielding percentage in 108 games at the position.

Offensively, Reynolds recovered from a poor first half to post a .221 batting average with a .335 on-base percentage and a .429 slugging percentage, collecting 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games. Sixteen of his homers came in the final two months of the season after he got past the most prolonged slump of his career. Through Reynolds’ first 85 games, he hit .211 with eight homers and 33 RBIs and struck out 104 times. He did draw walks throughout the season, leading the team in free passes for a second straight year, with 73, and he helped the Orioles reach their first postseason in 15 years by hitting 15 homers and posting a .517 slugging percentage in his final 50 games.

A well-liked player in the clubhouse, Reynolds played through numerous injuries during the season. He was hit by a pitch six times during the regular season and twice in six postseason games. Health was a question to everyone but Reynolds, who deflected any notion that he might need to miss time. The Orioles acquired from the D-backs on Dec. 6, 2010, in exchange for right-handers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. The signing is still pending a physical, with CBSports.com first reporting the two sides were closing in on a deal.

Os take McFarland in Rule 5 Draft (updated)

The Orioles selected left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland from the Indians’ Triple-A Columbus affiliate in Thursday morning’s Rule 5 Draft.

“We know he has a knack for winning games and hopefully that knack will translate to the Major Leagues,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. “We had targeted a couple left-handed pitchers in the Draft. We wanted to get another left-handed pitcher into our system and this was a cost-effective way to accomplish that.”

McFarland was selected 23rd in the Rule 5 Draft and was the Tribe’s fourth-round pick out of Amos Alonso Stagg High School in Palos Hills, Ill., in the fourth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, McFarland went 8-6 with a 4.82 ERA in 17 starts at Columbus, allowing 55 earned runs on 112 hits and 33 walks in 102 2/3 innings pitched.

The southpaw started the season with Double-A Akron, going 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 10 starts, including a complete-game effort, before being promoted. McFarland, 23, was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week for the period ending May 21.

“He pitched very well the last month of the season and he pitched a fine game against the Norfolk team where he beat our [Triple-A] ballclub down there,” Duquette said. “He’s got a good sinker, he keeps the ball down, he’s got a good changeup and he throws strikes in the bottom of the strike zone. And we like him as a qualified Major Leaguer.”

McFarland’s selection marks the second time in as many years the Orioles have taken a player in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft under Duquette. The O’s selected infielder Ryan Flaherty from the Cubs last winter and were able to keep him on their roster the entire season, ensuring the Maine native is now a part of Baltimore’s organization.

During the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, an eligible player left unprotected from his club’s 40-man roster may be selected for $50,000. He must then remain on his drafting team’s active Major League roster during the following season or be offered back to his original club for $25,000.

The move leaves the Orioles’ 40-man roster with one open spot, although that will be taken once outfielder Nate McLouth passes a physical and is officially added.

In the Triple-A portion, the Orioles selected right-handed pitcher Tom Boleska from Twins’ Double-A affiliate New Britain. The 26-year-old Boleska, who is from Canada, spent last season playing for the independent league’s Fargo-Moorhead club and was signed by Minnesota earlier this winter.

Duquette says no to Swisher, Minor League signings

*Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette put to rest the prospect of potentially signing free agent Nick Swisher on Wednesday night, saying “I think we have enough outfielders on our ballclub. we can take a look at the guys we have in the spring.”

Pressed further about the possibility of signing Swisher to play first base, Duquette said: “I don’t think we need to worry about that for Baltimore fans.”

*The Orioles would still like to make a trade to get a middle-of-the-order bat although it’s unclear when that could come.

“Sometimes they come together, sometimes they take a little while to percolate after the meeting,” said Duquette, who discussed four or five trade possibilities on Wednesday. “But we still have our eye on a couple other things.”

*The Orioles announced the signing of eight players to Minor League contracts with an invitation to Spring Training in outfielders Lew Ford, Conor Jackson and Jason Pridie, right-handed pitchers Daniel McCutchen and Adam Russell, and catchers Allan De San Miguel, Jose Gil and Chris Robinson.

*They also signed their first Czech player, Jan Novak, in the organization’s first foray into Europe. Novak is an 18-year-old left-handed pitcher with a good delivery, according to Duquette.

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