May 2013

Johnson on Buck’s trust, Palmer’s tough love & the fanbase

Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who blew his third consecutive save on Monday night, was hoping to get an immediate chance for redemption. And if a save situation arises Tuesday against the Yankees, manager Buck Showalter made it clear that Johnson will be the one to get the ball.

“He’s not going to sugarcoat it,” Johnson said of Showalter’s public and private support for him. “If he felt like he needed to do something, he would do it. But we are not at that point. He trusts me and I trust him.  We use that word a lot around here, trust. We hold each other accountable and that’s just the way this works.”

Johnson, who saw a stretch of 35 consecutive save opportunities snapped on May 10, has allowed eight earned runs over his last three games (2 1/3 innings) and the All-Star closer has looked nothing like the shut-down reliever who lead the Majors with 51 saves last year. Or has he?

“It’s never as bad as you think it is, and you are never going as good as you think you are,” he said. “There were times last year I pitched terribly and somehow ended up getting the save. But nobody talked about that because they don’t see it. Actually there is one person that saw it, it was [broadcaster and Hall of Famer Jim] Palmer. He called me out on it. And I knew he was right. It’s just the way the game works.

I feel like being consistent in this game is having a good work ethic. I think I have a good work ethic and the results will come.”

Johnson has gone back and watched the video of all three of his blown save outings and has been working on making a few adjustments that he hopes will get his command back on track. And while Showalter has stuck by his closer, Orioles fans have been pretty divided over whether the 29-year-old should continue to man the ninth-inning duties. Johnson said Tuesday he doesn’t pay attention to any of that kind of stuff, but he did have some high praise for the home crowd.

“I think our fans are a little bit smarter than most, honestly,” Johnson said. “They understand the game a little bit better than I’ve seen at other ballparks. They understand it’s not that easy. They are fans, they want us to win, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s part of being a fan, [and] enjoying the game.”

Orioles @ Yankees lineup, Jurrjens optioned

*The Orioles optioned Jair Jurrjens back to Triple-A Norfolk, opting to keep Jake Arrieta to add some length to their bullpen. Manager Buck Showalter said he’s trying to give T.J. McFarland one more day off tonight and both Arrieta and McFarland are options to start Thursday’s game which would have been Jurrjens’ turn.

Arrieta is more stretched out than McFarland, who has been in the bullpen all year, although Showalter said he feels confident he could go between 75-90 pitches on McFarland. Arrieta, who has had a nearly two-week layoff from pitching in a game, is 1-2 with a 7.31 ERA in three starts in Toronto. The organization has been impressed with McFarland, a Rule 5 pick this winter, and there’s been some thought to giving him a start for a while. The team’s recent starting rotation struggles have made that more of a possibility.

Jurrjens declined politely to speak to the media and his opt-out clause is dissolved given that he’s on the 40-man roster. He has an option and will report to Triple-A Norfolk where he will continue as a starter.

*Adam Jones is serving at designated hitter tonight after dealing with some right leg soreness at the end of last night’s game. Showalter said he didn’t like the look of it and he’ll give Jones a chance to keep his legs fresh.

*Nolan Reimold (hamstring strain) could travel with the team to Toronto instead of heading down to start rehabbing in Sarasota, Fla. Showalter said they haven’t made a final call on that yet, but either way Reimold will need to get at-bats at an affiliate before he is activated.

*Taylor Teagarden (dislocated left thumb) is about four or five days away from playing in games in extended spring.

*It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways: If the Orioles have a save situation tonight, closer Jim Johnson will get the ball.

*Major League Baseball announced each team’s Draft representatives and the Orioles will send Al Bumbry and Tripp Norton.
YANKEES LINEUP
Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafer DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson RF
Davis Adams 3B
Jayson Nix SS
Austin Romine C

Phil Hughes RHP

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nate McLouth LF
Manny Machado 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam JOnes DH
Chris Davis 1B
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Dickerson CF
Yamaico Navarro

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

Johnson on his struggles

Orioles closer Jim Johnson was at his locker and faced the media after suffering his third consecutive blown save, leading to the Orioles’ 6-4, 10-inning loss to New York.

You can read my full recap of the game here, but here is what Johnson –who manger Buck Showalter said would be run back out there in the team’s next save situation–  had to say…

[on what the Orioles have to do to stop the current season-high six-game losing skid]
“Well, three of them are my fault. The other guys do their job and I do mine, then we’re not standing here. I think everybody’s doing a great job. I’m just not pulling my weight. And I’ll figure it out.”

[Easier said than done on bouncing back after three blown saves?]
“I don’t know. I haven’t been in this position before. I wasn’t thinking about the last two outings when I was out there today. So I don’t expect to be thinking about the outing before, tomorrow when I’m out there.”

[on the issue Monday night]
“The ball’s up. That seems to be the common thing lately. Just not making the adjustment. I’m trying. You know, doing everything. I’m going to work through it. Just like anybody else would. I just need to execute, you know. Balls are coming up, hittable. Just make better pitches.”

[on if this is the most frustrating stretch of his career]
“Yeah. I’ve put a lot of hard work into everything I do. It’s not going to change anything, you know. Go home, get some rest, come back tomorrow, ready to work, just like anybody else would.”

[on making adjustments]

“I’m not getting the ball to where I need to be. We’ve watched a lot of tape, and working on certain things, staying tall a little bit longer…We will figure it out. I’ll figure it out, there’s no other option.”

Orioles @ Yankees-

Greetings from Camden Yards, where the Orioles will try to snap a five-game losing streak. The O’s are 3-7 over their last 10 games, which his the first time they’ve had such a rough stretch since June 30-July 13 of last year.

*Wei-Yin Chen will leave for Sarasota, Fla. tomorrow and get an early start on his rehab. He will start on the stationary bike and hopes to progress to running at some point next week. Chen, who has a Grade 2 oblique strain, will not pick up a ball for a while with manager Buck Showalter saying today he’d feel “fortunate” if Chen was a week away from a throwing program.

*J.J. Hardy is batting third today, which Showalter said is more of a product of trying to provide the toughest lineup possible against Yankees lefty CC Sabathia. Hardy, who had a 13-game hit streak snapped on Sunday, is a career .321 hitter (9-for-28) with a homer and five RBIs off Sabathia.

*Jake Arrieta is here as part of the bullpen and Showalter said there are no plans right now for the right-hander to get a start. That, of course, could change soon. Freddy Garcia will need to have a good start tonight to stay in the rotation and the Orioles will have to make a roster move tomorrow to activate Miguel Gonzalez from the disabled list. Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland continues to impress and could emerge as a candidate should the Orioles need another starter.
YANKEES LINEUP
Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson LF
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Reid Brignac SS
Austin Romine C

CC Sabathia LHP

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Manny Machado 3B
J.J. Hardy SS
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Matt Wieters C
Danny Valencia DH
Steve Pearce LF
Alexi Casilla 2B

Freddy Garcia RHP

Orioles @ Rays, Valencia at DH

*Danny Valencia is here, taking the roster spot of Ryan Flaherty, and he will serve as the Orioles’ designated hitter today. Flaherty will probably play multiple positions for Triple-A Norfolk given the team need and the possibility that there could be an injury to the big league club that would involve him playing a spot other than second base.

*Freddy Garcia will start Monday’s game on his scheduled turn with Miguel Gonzalez still on track to be activated from the disabled list and start on Tuesday. The team will need a roster spot for him, and right now it looks like they’d send out a pitcher, particularly with Valencia slated to start two of the next three games against a lefty starter.

*Taylor Teagarden will start a hitting and catching program in Sarasota, Fla. on Monday after getting the splint off his thumb the other day. Brian Roberts will have the sutures removed from his leg on Monday. It was originally scheduled for Friday, but it wasn’t healed enough then.

Wei-Yin Chen will head down to Sarasota at the end of the homestand on Wednesday, and manager Buck Showalter said he wasn’t sure if Reimold will join him or be ready to go get some at-bats at an affiliate.

*The Orioles started bunting and hitting with their pitchers today to get ready for the upcoming Interleague play in Washington D.C. next week.
ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Manny Machado 3B
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Steve Pearce LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Danny Valencia DH
Yamaico Navarro 2B
Chris Snyder C

Chris Tillman RHP

RAYS LINEUP
Desmond Jennings CF
Matt Joyce RF
Ben Zobrist 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
James Loney 1B
Luke Scott DH
Kelly Johnson LF
Jose Lobaton C
Yunel Escobar SS

Matt Moore LHP

Orioles option Flaherty, Reimold on his injury

The Orioles optioned infielder Ryan Flaherty to Triple-A Norfolk following Saturday’s 10-6 loss and will announce a corresponding roster move prior to Sunday’s game.

The move is the Orioles third transaction of the day, and it’s more likely that they will add another position player given that manager Buck Showalter said following the game he felt the team’s bullpen –which has pitched 29 2/3 innings in the last seven games– was in good shape.

Flaherty has struggled offensively since the season began and while the team likes his defense, he was replaced by Yamaico Navarro at second base the past two games. Flaherty, a Rule 5 Draft pick last year, hit .133 in 30 games, with two homers and 26 strikeouts in 90 at-bats. He opened the year 0-for-17.

If the Orioles do opt to add another position player, they could go with an outfielder given Saturday’s decision to put Nolan Reimold on the disabled list, or promote someone from Triple-A Norfolk who is versatile enough to play multiple spots. With Rays lefty Matt Moore on the mound tomorrow, a right-handed bat would make sense and Danny Valencia seems to be the most logical candidate.

***

Reimold didn’t get to speak to the media pregame about his injury, so here’s what he had to say after the Orioles loss about going on the DL…
“It’s obviously disapointing. I thought I’d be playing better, too. But it’s probably for the best in the long run, the big picture, to get it taken care of and come back and feel fresh and get another crack at it.”

[on how the injury bothered him] “There were times when, just walking it would tug. Going up stairs, I could feel it tugging pretty good. Then other times, it wasn’t too bad. Playing, it would aggravate and tighten back up and be a real nuisance, I guess. And there were times I’d be on base and that’s why I was getting pinch-ran for at the end of the game. I don’t consider myself a slow person, but if you’ve got to make that first to third or first to home, you have to be able to run and change direction. But I always went as hard as I could, to be honest. I always ran as hard as I could, but I had limitations.”

[on if he thinks he will be able to return right when eligible]: “I had those days off where I hadn’t played, and then when I did play, I wasn’t exactly on base to aggravate it anymore. It doesn’t feel too bad right now, so I’m hoping it will resolve quickly and I’ll get back quick.”

Arrieta recalled, Reimold to DL

The Orioles made a pair of roster moves today, recalling right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta and placing outfielder Nolan Reimold on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain. They also optioned reliever Alex Burnett to Triple-A Norfolk and added starter Jair Jurrjens to the 40-man roster, moving Brian Roberts to the 60-day DL to make a 40-man spot.

Arrieta will work out of the bullpen, at least for now, and he could be a starting option on Monday or Tuesday. The Orioles have not decided on a starter for Monday yet, although that would be Freddy Garcia’s day. Miguel Gonzalez is still tentatively slated to come off the DL and start Tuesday.

With Reimold’s injury, it’s something that has slowed him since this spring and it isn’t getting better. He will remain with the Orioles at least through the homestand with his DL stay backdated to Sunday. Arrieta, who was dealing with some right shoulder tenderness, said he’s feeling much better and he was slated to start for Triple-A Norfolk today had he not been promoted. Arrieta last threw a pair of side sessions on Wednesday and Thursday and said he’s worked hard to take the emotion out of pitching.
RAYS LINEUP
Desmond Jennings CF
Matt Joyce RF
Ben Zobrist 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
James Loney 1B
Luke Scott DH
Kelly Johnson LF
Jose Molina C
Yunel Escobar SS

Roberto Hernandez RHP

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nate McLouth LF
Manny Machado 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Dickerson DH
Yamaico Navarro 2B

Jair Jurrjens RHP

Orioles vs. Rays- Game 1

Greetings from Camden Yards where the Orioles will take on the Tampa Bay Rays for the first of a three-game series…

*Miguel Gonzalez threw a simulated game today without any protective wrap on his right thumb, which has a blister, and he threw three innings to several Oriole hitters including Chris Dickerson, Alexi Casilla and Chris Snyder. Gonzalez said physically everything felt OK and he is on track to make Tuesday’s start against the Yankees.

*As expected, Jair Jurrjens is here and he will be added to the roster and start Saturday afternoon’s game on FOX.  Jurrjens has been pitching well at Triple-A Norfolk and will get a chance to stick in the rotation in Wei-Yin Chen’s absence.

With Ryan Flaherty’s struggles at the, Yamaico Navarro is getting the start tonight at second base with Chris Dickerson playing over Nolan Reimold in left field.

*The Orioles, in partnership with Majestic, have announced a special opportunity for fans to play catch on the field for the first time on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16, prior to their game against the Boston Red Sox. Fans may purchase one of two ticket packages that include a pair of tickets for the 1:35 p.m. game and a 25-minute pre-game session of catch on the Oriole Park field. A portion of the proceeds will benefit OriolesREACH and the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation.

The Father’s Day Catch on the Field Package is available for $150 and includes two Left Field Lower Box tickets (sections 66-86), the unique opportunity to play catch on the field for two participants ($75 for each additional participant), two soft baseballs and a donation to the Orioles Charitable Foundation. The upgraded Catch on the Field Package is available for $198 ($99 for each additional participant) and includes Lower Box tickets in sections 6-14 or 60-64. Additional online fees apply.

Registration on June 16 will take place from 11:00-11:45 a.m. at Schaefer Circle, outside of Home Plate Plaza, located on the southwest corner of the ballpark between Gates D & E. In the event of inclement weather, a makeup date will be determined. Fans are advised that availability is limited and this event will sell out. To purchase a Father’s Day Catch on the Field Package, fans should visit http://www.orioles.com.

Upon completing a purchase transaction, an information packet will be mailed and will include tickets, important information and a waiver of liability which must be completed by each participant.

*The Orioles announced a new “Birdland Summer 6-Pack” ticket offer on Friday afternoon, with fans able to select tickets to six home games, including two prime games, all at the non-prime game price.

“We have designed this offer to reward Orioles fans willing to make a commitment to attend as few as six games this season with discounted tickets to the most in-demand games on our schedule,” Orioles Vice President of Communications and Marketing Greg Bader said in a press release.  “This program represents the perfect opportunity for Orioles fans to help paint the park orange and make their presence known when we take on our division rivals from New York and Boston.”

For as little as $54, fans can choose from 20 prime games and 41 non-prime games with the potential savings up to $70 per package.
ORIOLES LINEUP
Nate McLouth DH
Manny Machado 3B
Nick Markakis Rf
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Dickerson LF
Yamaico Navarro 2B

Jason Hammel RHP

RAYS LINEUP
Desmond Jennings CF
Matt Joyce RF
Ben Zobrist 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
James Loney 1B
Luke Scott DH
Kelly Johnson LF
Jose Lobaton C
Yunel Escobar SS

Jeremy Hellickson RHP

Orioles vs. Padres

*Miguel Gonzalez (blister) threw a 35-pitch side session this morning and physically everything went well. His stuff was OK, according to pitching coach Rick Adair, and Gonzalez threw five or six pitches without the bandage on his right thumb. The team was scheduled to meet about the next step for Gonzalez, who could make a short rehab start later this week or pitch in some kind of simulated game on Friday.

The Orioles are still hoping he can start Monday or Tuesday, the later date being the first day they need a fifth starter.

*Nolan Reimold is not in the lineup again, but it’s not an injury issue. Steve Pearce has been swinging the bat well lately and manager Buck Showalter opted to go with Pearce again.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nate McLouth LF
Manny Machado 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Steve Pearce DH

Freddy Garcia RHP

PADRES LINEUP

Everth Cabrera SS
Will Venable RF
Chase Headley 3B
Carlos Quentin DH
Yonder Alonso 1B
Jedd Gyorko 2B
Kyle Blanks LF
Alexi Amarista CF
John Baker C

Jason Marquis RHP

Duquette: Gausman to stay at Double-A for now

Orioles top pitching prospect Kevin Gausman is not being considered for any kind of promotion with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette confirming Tuesday afternoon that the 22-year-old right-hander is not in the Orioles’ immediate plans.

“Gausman is doing fine,” Duquette said of Gausman who has a 3.35 ERA in seven start for Double-A. “I’m going to tell you he’s not a candidate for us recall him. He’s doing fine at Double-A and he’s getting used to professional baseball.”

The Orioles have just three starters on their active roster right now with injuries to Wei-Yin Chen (right oblique strain) and Miguel Gonzalez (blister) causing a roster shuffle and furthering concern over an already-inconsistent starting staff.  But the team remains hopeful Gonzalez will miss just one turn and the expectation remains that Jair Jurrjens will be added to the roster to make Saturday’s start.

Gausman –who is expected to be in Baltimore before the year is over– is scheduled to pitch for Double-A Bowie on Thursday and he doesn’t necessarily have to pitch at Triple-A before coming to the  big leagues.

“What did we do with Manny Machado  last year, where did he go?,” Duquette said. “Double-A is the real proving ground, if they do well there. I like to see players do well at Double-A and get a foundation so that when they do come to the big leagues they can succeed. So the proving ground is Double-A.

He’s doing fine where he is. He’s doing fine, he’s getting his feet on the ground and learning about the routine of pro baseball.”

Gausman has allowed 20 runs (15 earned) on 40 hits over 40 1/3 innings, striking out 39 and walking just four.

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