March 2014

News & notes Day 30

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Greetings from Fort Myers, where the Orioles will take on the Twins. Lots of little notes today from manager Buck Showalter’s pre game session…

*Matt Wieters’ ankle is not coming along as quickly as the team had hoped and he won’t play in Saturday’s home game. Showalter said they could push it if it was during the season, but right now they are shooting for Monday.

*Nick Markakis is dealing with some left shoulder tendinitis, but is a go for Saturday’s game. He may just serve at designated hitter.

*Suk-min Yoon will go one or two innings in his Orioles debut on Saturday.

*Alexi Casilla was a late scratch with a hyperextended left knee that he informed the team about when he got here. Jonathan Schoop is playing shortstop in his place.

David Lough was also scratched as a precautionary measure with a stiff neck, with Xavier Paul taking over in left field.

*Zach Britton was originally slated to pitch today but will get one more day rest, as the team stretches him back out a little bit.

*Adam Jones will return from Baltimore, after the birth of his first child earlier this week, on Saturday but probably won’t play until Monday. Sunday’s game is in Dunedin.

*The Orioles announced that Dylan Bundy has has been optioned to Double-A Bowie. It’s really just a paperwork move, as the right-hander will continue his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

*If you’re on Facebook, you can “like” my page for more photos and stories from the spring. I posted an album today of some of my favorites from camp so far.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Xavier Paul RF
Jemile Weeks 2B
Henry Urrutia LF
Steve Pearce 1B
Steve Clevenger C
Nolan Reimold DH
Jonathan Schoop SA
Quintin Berry CF
Michael Almanzar 3B

Wei-Yin Chen LHP

TWINS LINEUP
Alex Presley CF
Kurt Suzuki C
Joe Mauer 1B
Josh Willingham LF
Trevor Plouffe 3B
Chris Parmelee DH
Darin Mastroianni RF
Eduardo Escobar 2B
Jason Bartlett SS

Mike Pelfrey RHP

News & notes day 29 (updated)

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Greetings from Tampa, where the Orioles will take on the Yankees.

*Adam Jones and his fiancee welcomed a baby boy yesterday in Baltimore and the expectation is he will return to play in Sunday’s game.

*Pitching prospect Mike Wright reported to Minor League camp yesterday has been dealing with right elbow tendinitis, which probably explains why he wasn’t as crisp in camp as the organization had hoped. Wright, who was reassigned on Sunday, allowed a run on three hits and three walks over three innings with a pair of strikeouts. According to MASN.com’s Steve Melewski, Wright pitched two innings in a Triple-A game on Thursday.

*Suk-min Yoon, who had his flight cancelled yesterday from Canada, is on his way back to Tampa today and he will make his Orioles spring debut on Saturday.

*Catcher Matt Wieters said his right ankle feels better today and he’s still shooting to return to the field for Saturday’s home game. Wieters left Tuesday’s game early after suffering a minor sprain rounding the third base bag.

*Manager Buck Showalter said there were 16 scouts in attendance for yesterday’s game (he gets the list) as the Orioles have a lot of out of option players. One of the guys attracting the most attention is lefty pitcher Zach Britton, who has pitched three times in the last week as the club appears set to have him as a bullpen option. Showalter wouldn’t go that far, saying they will continue to get Britton stretched out, although it looks to be a formality in case of injury at this point.

*Wei-Yin Chen will start Friday game’s with Chris Tillman on Saturday and Miguel Gonzalez on Sunday. Brian Matusz and Kevin Gausman will pitch Monday’s day game in Clearwater while Ubaldo Jimenez will pitch Monday night. Bud Norris will throw Wednesday following the off day with Chen and Tillman making the two starts after that.

*Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for additional coverage.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Quintin Berry CF
Alex Gonzalez SS
Henry Urrutia LF
Steve Pearce 1B
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Delmon Young DH
Xavier Paul RF
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Caleb Joseph C

Bud Norris RHP

YANKEES LINEUP
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano LF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Dean Anna 2B
Zoilo Almonte RF
Russ Canzler 1B
Michael Pineda RHP

Jimenez on his outing

Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez was hit hard by a sluggish Phillies offense on Wednesday afternoon.

Dominic Brown hit a bases-clearing triple to right field in the first inning, scoring Ben Revere, Freddy Galvis and Ryan Howard. Galvis delivered his own triple the following frame, scoring Revere again for the Phils fourth run off Jimenez in two innings.

“It was a tough day,” Jimenez said. “The first time I got to pitch from the stretch in a game and it got the best of me. I couldn’t find a good release. When I got from the stretch. And that was after the leadoff guy got on base right away, so it was a little bit tough to get in a good rhythm.”

Making his second start since signing a four-year, $52 million contract with Baltimore, Jimenez allowed four runs on four hits with three walks. He threw 50 pitches in the outing and finished up with 15 more in the bullpen, citing the work put it as a positive on the day.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, in spring training or wherever. You never want to give up runs,” he said. “But this is spring training and that’s where it’s going to stay. There’s nothing you can do about it. I got my work in. You’re never happy to give up runs, but you’re here to get your work done and get your arm ready for the regular season.”

All of Jimenez’s runs were two-out runs. Does that make it even more frustrating for the righty?

“I was probably a pitch away from closing the inning, especially in the first inning with the bases loaded,” he said. “I got two outs. But it happened. I left a pitch high and he got a good swing on it.”

Cal on Hardy, his future and the Orioles

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. was on hand on Wednesday afternoon to promote his newest children’s book and throw out the ceremonial first pitch, a strike to shortstop J.J. Hardy.

But does one of the most famous shortstops in baseball history see another return to the field?

“The safe answer is to say, I’m very happy doing what I’m doing right now because anything else I say can be pulled in different directions,” Ripken said. :That would be the safe answer. I’ve had success in a couple of business models from the kids models that I’m looking to duplicate around the country, which requires time and planning, but there is a side of me that would like to be able to apply what you know at this level. I have no plans. I have no business strategy. I have no professional baseball strategy whatsoever, but there’s a side of me that feels that way. Does that leave the door open?”

Ripken, who said he’d have to “undo” some of his life to be more present in the Orioles organization also came around for a similar signing last spring and the ball park trips have been a welcome part of the book tour.

“I get a glimpse of what my life used to be like and also stay busy and do some of the things that I like to do as well,” he said. “I feel very comfortable going into Buck [Showalter’s] clubhouse. I sat down with [Alan] Millsy and Scotty Mac [McGregor] and Bordy [Mike Bordick]. In many ways, it feels like old times, which is really cool, and I enjoy that. Spring Training time is a very busy time of the year for me in some of the other businesses that I have going on, so it’s not always as easy to schedule a block of time.”

Ripken said he hadn’t had a chance to really evaluate the Orioles flurry of signings this spring, but he was familiar with the additions of pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-min Yoon and outfielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

“It’s kind of funny to me, being around Baltimore, that the expectations have risen the last couple of years about this team,” he said. “In the early parts everyone was saying, we hadn’t made any moves, kind of stood pat to improve the team, so there’s an expectation now that there’s a foregone conclusion you’re a competitive playoff team and that you need to improve your team each and every year like everybody else in your division is doing.

So, to see the flurry of moves, Jimenez, I guess he’s on the mound right now. That’s an interesting arm and an interesting addition to the staff because the potential from now is really interesting. And to add a big bat to the lineup, is really interesting. The DH role, managers utilize it in many different ways with many different people. I’m of the opinion that DH is a position in the American League. If you have one person that can handle that, he’s in scoring position when he steps into the batters box. That’s a big plus to have on your team.”

Ripken also praised Hardy for being an exceptional shortstop “without a lot of fan fare” and for being such a consistent presence in the Orioles lineup. With the O’s shortstop in a contract year and the team working toward an extension, would Ripken like to see Hardy remain in Baltimore?

“Well, think about what you have now. You have one of the best shortstops in the league playing shortstop for you every day, being productive. And then you have a young kid next to him [in Manny Machado] that has proved out that he can be considered one of the best third basemen in the league,” Ripken said. “So you have a great left side of the infield. So who wouldn’t want that?

Now having said that if JJ goes down to injury or J.J. ends up moving on, it’s interesting to look at the skills set that Manny Machado brings. And to project him at the position. But I’m not in the inner meetings of Buck Showalter and [executive vice president] Dan Duquette and kind of thinking about what they are doing. I’m saying it from a shortstop’s perspective seeing a skills set that Manny brings and the strength of arm. At some point it would be interesting to see him apply those types of skills to the position of shortstop. But if you had a choice of having those two guys for five, six more years, that’s a pretty good left side of the infield.”

Ripken, who was promoting his book Squeeze Play —the fourth installment of the “Cal Ripken, Jr.’s All-Stars” series , also praised the potential of the Orioles lineup.

“You have the nucleus of every day two-way players that is pretty good,” he said. “And you add [Nelson] Cruz to that lineup and the evolution of [Chris] Davis as a premiere power hitter in the League positions you pretty well. And Manny Machado is just going to get better and better and start to learn his skill set and his power. Because he does possess power, as you’ve seen many times. So, potentially this offense has the potential to be one of the better offenses in the League and score a lot of runs. What wins ultimately is your ERA and your pitching. So the potential for this team too to have a deep pitching staff is there as well.”

News & notes day 28 (updated)

*Brock Huntzinger was reassigned to Minor League camp today after an impressive spring campaign. The 25-year-old right-hander allowed one run on two hits over 3 2/3 spring innings. He struck out four and didn’t issue a walk in the three outings. He is expected to be part of Triple-A Norfolk’s bullpen and could be an option for the Orioles later this season.

*Suk-min Yoon will return to Orioles camp on Thursday and could make his Orioles debut on Saturday. Yoon has been in Canada working on securing his work visa.

*Matt Wieters is not in the lineup due to a minor right ankle strain that he suffered running the bases yesterday. Wieters said it’s not a big deal, there are no plans for X-rays, and he wouldn’t play in either of the team’s upcoming road games anyhow so it’s really just one extra day off. He will take today off and possibly try to swing the bat on Thursday, with manager Buck Showalter saying the target is Saturday’s home game.

*Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. will be here shortly and is slated to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and sign copies of his new children’s book, Squeeze Play, on the lower concourse beginning at 2 p.m.

Showalter said it’s always exciting to have a guy like Cal in camp and has made it no secret that he’d love to see it become more of a regular thing.

“He’s so busy, we try to get him down here as much as he can,” Showalter said. “He’s the type of guy if he isn’t able to commit for a long period of time he’d rather not, because he doesn’t want to just come in and out as some figurehead…just being around him I’m honored. I know our players like having him around.”
 
Ripken will sign the first 300 books for fans. The visit is part of a national book tour for Squeeze Play, the fourth installment in the New York Times best-selling “Cal Ripken, Jr.’s All-Stars” series. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the game for $16.99. Due to time constraints, Ripken will be unable to sign items other than his book.

*Nolan Reimold is playing at designated hitter today and will head over to the Minor League complex to get additional at-bats starting on Thursday.

*Ervin Santana has agreed to one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. MLB.com first reported it was close and the deal –for $14.1 million– was reported this morning and officially takes Santana off the board.

*As a reminder, you can make donations to late public relations director Monica Barlow here: http://events.lungevity.org/site/TR/Events/General?pxfid=41040&fr_id=1030&pg=fund

*Registration is now open for Youth Baseball Day, presented by Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), to be held Sunday, March 23 at Ed Smith Stadium. All youth baseball teams that sign up will receive discounted tickets ($10 each) to the Orioles’ 1:05 p.m. game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and may participate in a pre-game, on-field parade around the warning track.

Players whose teams are not registering may still take part, but players must be in team uniform to participate in the parade. To inquire about registering, email springtix@orioles.com or call 941-893-6300. Registration deadline is March 17.

ORIOLES LINEUP
David Lough CF
Jemile Weeks 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Chris Davis 1B
Nelson Cruz LF
Ryan Flaherty 3B
J.J. Hardy SS
Steve Clevenger C
Nolan Reimold DH

Ubaldo Jimenez RHP

PHILLIES LINEUP
Ben Revere CF
Freddy Galvis SS
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard DH
Darin Ruf 1B
Domonic Brown LF
Cameron Rupp C
Bobby Abreu RF
Maikel Franco 3B

A.J. Burnett RHP

Wieters exits early, rolls ankle

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters exited Tuesday’s game after rolling his right ankle in the bottom of the fourth inning in Baltimore’s 6-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

“Just precautionary,” manager Buck Showalter said of the move. “He’s fine, went in and got some ice on it.”

Wieters walked in a run in the fourth and moved to second on a wild pitch, suffering the ankle injury running to third on Ryan Flaherty’s inning-ending groundout. With a home game tomorrow and then a pair of road games, he could get a few days breather just to make sure.

Showalter said there were no plans yet for an X-Ray.

“[Head athletic trainer] Richie [Bancells] said during the season he would have continued to play,” Showalter said. “Just wanted to get some ice on it make sure it doesn’t turn into something worse.”

Gonzalez on his outing

Miguel Gonzalez pitched three innings this afternoon, allowing two runs on four hits with a walk, and said he had no issue coming off of Friday’s game. In that outing, Gonzalez was struck with a liner in the left shin and had to leave the game but he was able to avoid any serious injury.

“I thought it was going to be worse,” Gonzalez said after Tuesday’s outing. “Having to get hit last time and being able to be under control this time was fun to be out there again.

“I felt good throughout all three innings. All I wanted was to be out there and try to throw 45 to 50 pitches and that’s what I did.”

Gonzalez said the pitch he hung to Brock Holt, who hit a solo homer, was a fastball up in the zone and the emphasis for the right-hander –who was also slowed with back spasms– will be to just get his innings up.

News & notes Day 27 (updated twice with cuts)

*The Orioles have reassigned Eddie Gamboa, Chord Phelps and Julio Borbon to Minor League camp.

*The Orioles have agreed to contracts for 2014 with 19 players and renewed Manny Machado. All 19 guys were under team control, with Machado –who said he was disappointed in baseball’s system of contracts for guys with less than three years service time– getting a $100,000 bonus for winning the Platinum Glove.

Guys who agreed to contracts were: Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez, Steve Johnson, Josh Stinson, Chris Tillman, Mike Belfiore, Tim Berry, Zach Britton, T.J. McFarland, Johnny Monell, Michael Ohlman, Michael Almanzar, Ryan Flaherty, Jonathan Schoop, Jemile Weeks, David Lough and Henry Urrutia.

*Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said there has been no progress on extension talks for J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters or Chris Davis and that they visited the idea of an extension for Machado last winter. The team did not have any of those talks with Machado’s camp this offseason as the emphasis is on him getting healthy.

*As for the market for Ervin Santana, Duquette called it “interesting” and alluded to the fact that it was an ongoing process with other teams around baseball getting involved due to various injuries in camp.

*Jonathan Schoop has been making noise in camp, but he’s also impressed inside the Orioles clubhouse and you can read more on the O’s top prospect and his chances of making the club here.

*Nolan Reimold will head to Minor League camp in an effort to get more at-bats, where he will serve at designated hitter only and lead off innings for various affiliates. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he talked to Reimold about doing this yesterday as a way to catch up on him missing a good chunk of the past two seasons, and this doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not an outfield option for the Orioles this season.

*Francisco Peguero has been sidelined with a right wrist strain and he’s considered day-to-day right now. Showalter said the issue was made known to him during batting practice on the back fields about four days ago and Peguero will get an MRI on the area in the next couple days.

*Brian Matusz had a pretty bad allergic reaction on Sunday night, going to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, but after resting yesterday he said he would be able to pitch in toddy’s game.

*X-Rays on Xavier Paul’s hand, after being hit in yesterday’s game, were negative and he’s listed as a reserve today.

*Adam Jones is not playing today, as he’s scheduled to fly back to Baltimore this afternoon in advance of his fiancé being induced with the couple’s first child. There’s no timetable for Jones to return following the birth of his son.

ORIOLES LINEUP
David Lough CF
Nick Markakis RF
Nelson Cruz LF
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Matt Wieters C
Delmon Young DH
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Alexi Casilla 2B

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

RED SOX LINEUP
Daniel Nava 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
A.J. Pierzynski C
Ryan Lavarnway DH
Corey Brown LF
Alex Hassan RF
Brock Holt 2B
Deven Marrero SS

RHP Allen Webster

Also on the sked to throw: Alex Wilson, RHP Brayan Villarreal, RHP Francisco Cordero, RHP Miguel Celestino, RHP Noe Ramirez.

Tillman on his outing, Buck post game

*Orioles starter Chris Tillman went 3 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on six hits with four strikeouts, although a bunch of the hits were infield singles.

“I’m going based off feel now,” said Tillman, who was clocked in the 90-92 range. “And as long as I feel like I executed the pitch well, physically felt well, that’s all that really matters…first-pitch strikes could have been better and two-strike approach.”

*Xavier Paul will get an X-ray on his right hand after getting hit by a pitch. We should know more on that situation tomorrow.

*Orioles manager Buck Showalter reiterated that the backup catcher providing offense will be seen as something extra, with the team basing the competition between Steve Clevenger and Johnny Monell on defense first.

*Jonathan Schoop continues his hot spring, doubling in a run for his fourth extra-base hit. HE also homered in both intrasquad games before Grapefruit League play started.

*Showalter singled out Urrutia as looking a lot better in the outfield and called Steve Pearce “a rock” for his professionalism and the way he approaches the game. Pearce hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning.

Orioles annouce promotion schedule

Per a team release…


The Orioles today announced their 2014 promotions and special events schedule for the 60th Anniversary season.  The schedule is one of the most robust promotional calendars in club history and is filled with many new items, as well as several returning fan favorites.
 
Three bobblehead giveaways will take place on three different weekend dates this season, including MANNY MACHADO on June 7, ADAM JONES on September 1, and the popular AT&T Fans’ Choice Bobblehead on September 21. 
 
There are several 60th Anniversary themed promotions, including two during the Orioles vs. St. Louis Cardinals series in August.  Following the August 8 game, the club will host a 60th Anniversary-themed fireworks and laser show, which will feature the return of many former Orioles greats.  The next night, on August 9, the Orioles will give away a Wild Bill cowboy hat, in honor of one of Birdland’s most famous fans, to the first 20,000 fans age 15 and over.
 
Including the cowboy hat, there are six total hat giveaways: a Mother’s Day cap; a Father’s Day fedora; an Orioles floppy hat presented by Miller Lite on June 27; a 1954 Orioles cap presented by DAP on June 29; and an Orioles knit cap on September 20.
 
In addition to the fireworks and laser show on August 8, there will be five other Friday night fireworks shows, one per month of the season: April 25, May 23, June 13, July 3 and September 19.
 
There are eight total t-shirt giveaways, including six that are for all fans in attendance – one per month – as well as a Chris Davis performance t-shirt on June 28 and a 3/4 sleeve 60th Anniversary shirt on August 1.
 
Several kids-exclusive giveaways and events will take place, including new items such as a Chris Davis action figure presented by PNC on August 2; an Oriole Bird plush pillow on June 14; and an Orioles kids jersey on August 31; as well as returning favorites such as Kids Run the Bases, held post-game on both June 29 and August 31.
 
Other giveaway dates include a 2014 schedule and car magnet on Opening Day, March 31; an Orioles ripcord bracelet on May 25; Orioles sunglasses presented by Visit Sarasota County on June 6; and an Orioles tote bag presented by MLB Network on July 30.
 
Several season-long promotions will also continue in 2014, including Ollie’s Bargain Night, presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (every Tuesday, all upper reserve tickets are currently $10) and AT&T Student Night (every Friday, all left field upper reserve tickets are currently $7 with valid photo ID).

 

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