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Duquette still focused on pitching depth.

BALTIMORE—The Orioles are in the market for pitching depth, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette reiterated prior to Tuesday’s game.

Duqette, who told MLB.com that was the priority over the weekend, said nothing is imminent although the organization continues to have “meaningful discussions” and is equipped to make a move in advance of Thursday’s deadline.

“We have pretty good depth to our farm system,” Duquette said. “So I think we have the wherewithal to make a deal.”

There are several Minor League names that don’t figure into discussions as Duquette seems to be standing by his belief of building from within. The O’s are not making pitchers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey viable in trade talks and they also are not parting with young righty Kevin Gausman, who is currently part of the team’s rotation.

“We’d like the star players to come up and make an impact on the team,” Duquette said. “In 2012, we brought up Manny [Machado] and he made a difference in the pennant race. In 2014, we’ve got Kevin Gausman on our team, and we hope he will impact the race, so that’s really the first choice, to have those really talented players play for us and prove themselves in the big leagues.” 

If the O’s do add pitching depth, it figures to be bullpen help or a starter they can have ready in the Minor Leagues. With Ubaldo Jimenez slated to make his first rehab start Tuesday night, the O’s could have a roster crunch in the rotation soon and adding a frontline starter —especially given the haul it would require to give up— isn’t very likely.

And while the club is looking around at some upgrades postionally, Duquette reminded reporters on Tuesday that the Orioles will continue to operate on a defense-first basis in any potential moves.

“If you look at it, those are a couple areas where we could improve,” he said. 
I got to say, there’s tradeoffs in everything. Our guys have done a nice job defensively at second, have done a nice job defensively catching. They’ve contributed offensively, although it hasn’t been consistent. Ideally, we’d like to have a more consistent contribution from those positions, but given the choice we’d much rather have the defense first.”

“I think we have the defense. If we could add to our offensive team, that would probably be something we could take a look at.”

Orioles vs. Angels lineups and pregame notes

Greetings from Camden Yards, where it feels like the Orioles haven’t been home in forever. (I feel like that as well.)

*In case you missed it yesterday, I wrote about the Orioles stance on making midseason trades, with the emphasis for executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette on adding pitching depth. You can read more on that here.

*The Orioles have signed 20-year-old third baseman Gionel Santa out of the Dominican Republic. The right-handed hitter is listed at 6-2 and 195 pounds. He signed with Toronto last year, but he ended up getting suspended due to some kind of issue with his birth certificate and became re-eligible this year. Santa is one of several players Duquette saw on his trip to the Dominican Republic last week, with the O’s passing on several others that they were considering last week.

Baltimore was among those with representatives on hand for Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo, but aren’t expected to get into the bidding war he figures to command.

*With T.J. McFarland on the bereavement list for his grandmother’s funeral, which is a minimum three-day stay, the Orioles have recalled Preston Guilmet and added him to the bullpen.

Chris Davis is not in tonight’s starting lineup, with Steve Pearce getting the nod instead at first base….

ANGELS LINEUP
Kole Calhoun RF
Mike Trout CF
Albert Pujols 1B
Josh Hamilton DH
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Efren Navarro LF
David Freese 3B
Hank Conger C

Jered Weaver RHP

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Manny Machado 3B
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz LF
Delmon Young DH
J.J. Hardy SS
Steve Pearce 1B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Nick Hundley C

Chris Tillman RHP

Orioles @ Mariners lineups and pregame notes

The O’s are shuffling their rotation next week, pushing Wei-Yin Chen back a day to Friday and having Bud Norris pitch Thursday against the Angels. Monday’s off day allows them to do that and Chen –who will face Seattle again– is coming off of one of his best outings of the year. Also, Norris has really good career numbers against the Angels.

One of the team’s relievers will leave on Monday morning to go see an ill family member and manager Buck Showalter –who didn’t want to specify who it was– wasn’t sure if the team would use the bereavement list or not. If they do, he’d have to stay on it for a minimum of three days.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Steve Pearce LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Manny Machado 3B
Caleb Joseph C
Jonathan Schoop 2B

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

MARINERS LINEUP
James Jones CF
Dustin Ackley LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kendrys Morales DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Corey Hart RF
Logan Morrison 1B
Mike Zunino C
Chris Taylor SS

Roenis Elias LHP

Orioles @ Mariners lineups and pregame notes

Manny Machado has returned to the Orioles lineup after missing four games with low back spasms. Manager Buck Showalter said he almost used him last night.

Showalter was pretty cryptic regarding the team’s upcoming pitching rotation, saying that the Orioles could do a few “interesting” things depending on what happens in today’s game. I don’t think he’s talking about a trade in the works, but rather some roster manipulation.

Miguel Gonzalez is slated to start, but the O’s could use Monday’s off day to their advantage by lining up certain guys next week when they host the Angels and Mariners. They could also use lefty T.J. McFarland on Sunday if need be. That would depend on if he’s used today and if lefty Brian Matusz is available. Stay tuned.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Delmon Young DH
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz LF
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Manny Machado 3B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Nick Hundley C

Bud Norris RHP

MARINERS LINEUP

James Jones CF
Dustin Ackley LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kendrys Morales DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Corey Hart RF
Logan Morrison 1B
Brad Miller SS
Jesus Sucre C

Chris Young RHP

Endy Chavez RF
James Jones CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kendrys Morales DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Dustin Ackley LF
Logan Morrison 1B
Brad Miller SS
Jesus Sucre C

Chris Young RHP

Orioles @ Mariners Game 2, still no Machado

Manny Machado was not in Friday’s lineup for the fourth consecutive game, but the third baseman has improved enough to be an available bench player.

“I could use him if I had to,” manager Buck Showalter said of Machado, who has been sidelined with back spasms. “With the day game tomorrow and the quick turnaround, he’s a lot better. He’s very close…I think you will see him start Saturday or Sunday.”

Machado agreed that returning this weekend is still the goal and the 22-year-old came through pre game batting practice and infield Thursday with no issues. He’s just waiting to be 100 percent so that this issue doesn’t linger.

“The pain is getting less and less everyday, we are just trying to be pain free before I get out there,” Machado said. “Also, we are trying to not get in a situation we don’t want to be in, which is go out there and get hurt again, which would push us back further along. So, we are going to treat it while it’s going well. It’s going well, so we are going to keep treating it and try to get it 100 percent and try to help the team.”

Machado said his back has responded well to the rest and treatment and the Orioles are trying to get in front of the injury —which he called “an annoying feel” — so he can play out the season.

“I want to eliminate it so it’s not an issue at any other point this season,” said Showalter, who has been using Ryan Flaherty at third base in Machado’s absence.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Steve Pearce LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Caleb Joseph C
Jonathan Schoop 2B

Kevin Gausman RHP

MARINERS LINEUP
Endy Chavez RF
James Jones CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kendrys Morales DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Dustin Ackley LF
Logan Morrison 1B
Mike Zunino C
Brad Miller SS

Felix Hernandez RHP

Could Johnson return to Baltimore?

SEATTLE—Could Jim Johnson make a return to Baltimore?

“That’s completely in Oakland’s hands now,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Johnson, who was designated for assignment by the A’s on Thursday afternoon. “They have nine or 10 days to trade him and I’m sure there will be some people that have interest in Jimmy. See what it takes. I’m sure that will play out most of the time unless Billy [Beane] gets a deal he likes.”

If they don’t find a suitable deal, Oakland could also place the struggling Johnson on waivers or release him during that 10-day timeframe. Relieved of his ninth-inning duties just two weeks into the season, Johnson has a Major League-worst 6.92 ERA —along with a $10 million salary— and should be able to easily clear waivers, which would likely result in his release. He has enough service time to decline a Minor League assignment, which could make him a free agent. And the O’s were heavily rumored recently to have interest in a Johnson reunion, engaging in talks with the A’s while the right-hander was still on their roster.

Showalter, who has kept in contact with Johnson this season said he considers him a friend and it was tough to witness Johnson’s struggles from afar.

“It was painful to watch because we all think so much of Jimmy as a person,” Showalter said of Johnson, who saved 101 games for Baltimore in the previous two seasons. “He did some good things for us.”

Johnson was an All-Star for the O’s in 2012 and a huge part of the organization making the playoffs that year. Showalter believes he can still turn things around despite the disappointing start to 2014.

“It’s such a snowball, at this level, at any sports. Things snowball,” he said. “You are never quite as good as periods are and you are never as bad as periods are. He will end up in a good place and it will work out. He’s got too much ability.”

Orioles @ Mariners, Machado still out

Greetings from Safeco Field, where after a hectic travel schedule this morning, I made it to Seattle this afternoon. The Orioles are 3-3 heading into this four-game set with the Mariners to finish off a three-city West Coast trip.

*Manny Machado is sidelined for the third consecutive Orioles game Thursday but the third baseman said that his back is getting better and better and is hoping to play during the four-game series against the Mariners.

“It’s definitely gotten better,” said Machado, who was a late scratch on Tuesday with low back spasms suffering during his final round of pre game batting practice. “It’s something that’s just an annoying pain. It’s definitely gotten down to a pinpoint pain now. We will see how it feels the next couple days.”

Machado, who has been resting and getting treatment, planned on taking BP and fielding ground balls on Thursday and will take it from there. He said the pain has gone down and the 22-year-old is just waiting for the last bit of discomfort to clear out before returning.

In his absence, the Orioles have used Ryan Flaherty at third base.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Delmon Young DH
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz LF
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Caleb Joseph C
Wei-Yin CHen LHP

MARINERS LINEUP
James Jones CF
Stefen Romero RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Corey Hart 1B
Kyle Seager 3B
Jesus Montero DH
Dustin Ackley LF
Mike Zunino C
Chris Taylor SS

Hisahi Iwakuma RHP

Machado better, hoping to return soon

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was out of the starting lineup again on Wednesday night, as he’s still dealing with some back spasms that first crept up during Tuesday’s pre game batting practice.

Machado, who was a late scratch on Tuesday, said he was encouraged with the fact that he felt better and was optimistic he would only be sidelined a couple days.

“I was kind of bummed out by it last night,” he said. “When I woke up, it felt a little better and I came in here and got some treatment and I’m feeling much better. I assume that’s a good sign for that . We’re just going to feed off that and keep going.”

The plan for Machado on Wednesday was to get treatment and see how his back progressed, with nothing definitive on him trying to swing or take some grounders.

“It’s a lot better than it being the same or worse,” Showalter said of Machado making some progress. “I look for him to be back shortly, depending on how you define the word shortly.”

In Machado’s absence, Ryan Flaherty has been at third base for the O’s.

Orioles @ Angels lineups, Machado still out

Manny Machado, who was a late scratch from Tuesday’s lineup is still out with back spasms although he said today he’s feeling better. Machado was encouraged with the fact that he woke up this morning feeling better and is fairly confident it’s just a couple days type of injury. He wasn’t sure what the plan would be bedsides treatment today.

Ubaldo Jimenez threw a 35-pitch bullpen session this afternoon and also did what he called “old school” running drills to test his right ankle. The righty was still waiting to hear what the next step would be.

“It went good,” Jimenez said in the clubhouse this afternoon. “I was able to get on the mound and throw all my pitches. I was able to throw from the stretch and the windup and they made me do a couple drills, running drills, to make sure i’d be able to go to first base.”

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
David Lough LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Nick Hundley C

Chris Tillman RHP

ANGELS LINEUP
Kole Calhoun RF
Mike Trout CF
Albert Pujols DH
Josh Hamilton LF
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
David Freese 3B
Efren Navarro 1B
Chris Iannetta C

Jered Weaver RHP

Machado scratched

ANAHEIM— Manny Machado was a last minute scratch from Tuesday’s Orioles starting lineup with back tightness.

The extent of Machado’s injury was not immediately known and the 22-year-old has not missed any previous time this season with a back injury. Machado has played in 66 games for Baltimore this season, missing the first month recovering from offseason knee surgery and serving a five-game suspension. He also missed a couple games with a right groin injury in May.

Machado was replaced by Ryan Flaherty at third base, who moved down to the eighth spot in the batting order. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop moved up from ninth to Machado’s original spot at seventh with catcher Caleb Joseph moving down to hit last.

Machado entered the day batting .267 with 10 homers and 23 RBIs.

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