Orioles vs. Astros lineups & pregame notes; Norris debut

*The big news of the day was around Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who  found out this afternoon that recent comment he had made –thinking they were off-the-record– about the ongoing Biogenesis investigation were published in USA Today.  Showalter said earlier this week if baseball’s commissioner Bud Selig suspends Alex Rodriguez, it’s not fair that the Yankees would benefit financially from the salary relief.

“If Bud lets them get away with that, they’re under the luxury tax,” the newspaper quoted Showalter saying. “If they can reset, they can spend again, and I guarantee you in two years [Orioles catcher] Matt Wieters is in New York.”

Showalter spoke with Wieters on Thursday and explained that the comment boils down to the fact that the Orioles organization would like to keep Wieters in Baltimore for the long haul.

“It wasn’t meant for public consumption,” Showalter said of the printed comments. “You guys know, we sit around and talk all the time about baseball issues because we all kind of love our game. We look at things and talk about it. Unfortunately, somebody decided to put it out there publicly. I said it and someone decided to print it. So, it’s unfortunate.  What are you going to do ?”

Wieters didn’t seem bothered by the comment and said, “Buck’s got his way of thinking about things and being able to get across his point of view. I’m happy to be here right now and I am not thinking any at all about where I’m going to be playing in two years.”

Rodriguez is the most high-profile player under investigation in the ongoing scandal, and New York signed the three-time MVP to a new 10-year, $275 million deal –including another $30 million in bonuses—after the 2007 season.  There are reports that MLB will have more news regarding suspensions on Friday.

“I have a lot of confidence in our leadership and baseball. There are finally some things in place where they can do the things they are going to do,” Showalter said. “I can tell you that locker room, our locker room and I think most locker rooms –I can’t speak for other ones, but I think it’s the case—the common denominator is they welcome this.”

I know talking to our players, it’s not like they are ready for it to be over. They are ready because it kind of soils all of them in their mind.”

*Jason Hammel, placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to yesterday’s game right forearm tightness,  will have an MRI tomorrow morning.

*Wilson Betemit, who has been sidelined since Spring Training, will start his rehab assignment Aug. 6 with the team’s Gulf Coast League club,

*Steve Johnson (left oblique strain) will start for Double-A Bowie on Saturday.

*The Orioles have the launched the O’s Birds Nest rewards program, a new interactive fan-engagement program.  Through the free program, fans can earn points and have the opportunity to win unique prizes by supporting and utilizing the club’s digital programs and platforms, and by interacting on the club’s official website at http://www.orioles.com and on the Orioles official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Fans may enroll in the O’s Birds Nest by creating a profile on http://www.osbirdsnest.com or by logging in with their MLB.com account information.  Once a member of the O’s Birds Nest, fans can connect to the club’s official social media outlets to begin earning points.

Other point-scoring opportunities include the purchase of Orioles single-game tickets or merchandise on http://www.orioles.com, checking in at games through MLB.com’s At The Ballpark app, visiting pages on the team’s website, and more.

Points earned can be redeemed for virtual tokens used to enter Orioles sweepstakes held throughout the remainder of the season. Prizes include an opportunity for a VIP on-field experience, a mention from the Orioles official Twitter account (@Orioles), a 2013 team autographed baseball and 2014 Opening Day tickets.

*The Ripken Family and Ripken Baseball have announced a $100,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the man who abducted Vi Ripken from her home a year ago. The announcement was made at a press conference Cal Ripken held at the Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore in partnership with the Aberdeen Police Department and the Baltimore Division of the FBI.

On the morning of July 24, 2012, Vi Ripken was abducted at gunpoint from her home in Aberdeen, Md.  She was held captive for 24 hours and driven by the abductor across state lines in her vehicle before being returned to her home early the following morning.  Despite eyewitness sightings of the subject as well as video surveillance, no arrests have been made in the case.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call either America’s Most Wanted hotline at 1-800-Crime-TV or the FBI at 410-265-8080. The decision to pay a reward based on information received and the amount of that award shall be within the sole discretion of Ripken Baseball and the Ripken family.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nate McLouth LF
Manny Machado 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS
Henry Urrutia DH
Brian Roberts 2B

Bud Norris RHP

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