The Baltimore Orioles, their community outreach program, OriolesREACH, and SNN Local News 6 will partner to fight hunger in the Sarasota area with a food drive next Sunday, March 27, at Ed Smith Stadium.
Fans are asked to bring non-perishable food items or a cash donation to that day’s 1:05 p.m. game against the Boston Red Sox. All donations will benefit the All Faiths Food Bank of Sarasota. The first 500 fans who donate at least three canned goods or $5.00 will receive an autographed Orioles player card.
*As some of you may know, my alma mater Michigan State lost in the first round lost night to UCLA. I heard plenty about it today. Oh well, at least their tournament streak is still alive. Here are today’s tidbits and lineups as I get them…
*Brian Roberts and Derrek Lee are taking some live batting practice today. Manager Buck Showalter said he’d have a better idea when they would play after that.
*Justin Duchscherer threw from about 100 feet yesterday at the team’s complex and did so again today, getting to 120-130 feet. He said he has a lot of tightness in his hips and is just trying to get everything stretched out. He also pointed out that he only pitched 13 spring innings last year and started the season on time in Oakland, so he’s not overly concerned about only having two innings now. Being in the Opening Day rotation is still a goal.
Showalter didn’t sound as optimistic and said it would “be tough” to get Duchscherer ready to go by then.
*Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver is here today to visit camp and the plan is for him to talk with the current coaches on Saturday. Several of the players sought him out for his autograph this afternoon.
*The Rays announced their pitchers for the Opening Day series against the Orioles in St. Petersburg. The O’s will face David Price, James Shields and Wade Davis.
*The Orioles will make about five cuts tomorrow, with three or four arms included in that.
*Kevin Gregg threw two innings in a Minor League game today, giving up what Showalter described as a “wind-aided” homer. Reason No. 1298320 why spring stats are skewed.
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Mark Reynolds 3B
Luke Scott LF
Jake Fox 1B
Matt Wieters C
Cesar Izturis 2B
Brian Matusz LHP. Clay Rapada and Jason Berken are also scheduled to pitch.
Denard Span CF
Matt Tolbert SS
Justin Morneau 1B
Jeff Bailey DH
Luke Hughes 3B
Brian Dinkelman LF
Jason Repko RF
Steve Holm C
Trevor Plouffe 2B
SP Francisco Liriano
Jake Fox hit two homers on Thursday afternoon to increase his spring total to a Major League-leading seven homers. Fox, one of the most outgoing guys in the Orioles’ clubhouse, played winter ball this offseason and has been trying to force his way onto the 25-man roster.
Whether that’s as a utility man or as the team’s backup catcher remains to be seen, but given the way he’s hitting I don’t see Fox not making this team. Here’s what he had to say this afternoon…
[on making an impression]
“At this point I’m trying to leave no doubt that I should be a part of this team. I think coming into spring training that was the biggest thing I wanted to come in and prove. I know what I’m capable of, coming in I wanted to show them exactly what I was trying to do for this team and this lineup. Anything else is out of my control.
[on learning to adapt to the bench]
“My whole career has been an uphill battle. I feel like I’ve been fighting against athleticism, lack of position, take your pick. Because I think I’ve been labeled since an early time in my career, it’s been hard to get out of that label.
It took me a while last year to realize, ok this is my job. Instead of trying to show them I can be an everyday player I have to go out and do my job. Especially if I want to keep my job. And that’s one of the reasons why [Oakland] sent me over I just wasn’t getting that job done. So, I came over here [to Baltimore] last year and it was a fight just to get my swing back.
I’ve always been straightforward with [manager Buck Showalter] and he’s always been straightforward with me. And he knows that at some point. [I want to be an everyday player.] Right now, that’s not where I fit in with this team. I know I’m going to be a role player, and he knows I’m going to show up and do that role to the best of my ability every day. But at some point down the road, hopefully I’m showing him that I can go out and play every day and be a part of an everyday team.
[on the backup catcher battle with Craig Tatum]
“I think you guys [in the media] are building up the competition between Craig and I. He and I are on the same page from the standpoint where I don’t necessarily think it’s a battle for the backup position. I think Buck is going to take the best 13 position players he has.
I don’t necessarily think there’s a direct competition between Craig and I. I feel like it’s more of a competition for the four spots on the bench. And whether it’s six or seven or eight of us fighting for four jobs on the bench. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s a direct competition between the two of us. I feel like it’s more of a broad competition for the last four jobs.”
Orioles starter Chris Tillman just talked to the media following this afternoon’s four inning outing against the Pirates. Here’s what he had to say:
[on how he felt]
“I felt OK. I felt like I was battling myself the whole time to keep the ball down. Going from this mound to that one is a big difference. Overall, I was pretty happy with what happened. I think it was really, really poor execution, with the pitcher in the lineup, that eight hole. Other than that, I felt pretty good.”
[on if he's happy with his spring progression]
“Absolutely, especially with the way we’ve been working on things. We’ve been working on something new every time. I think this time was more of a rhythm thing for me. I felt good, but it felt different. The mounds are so drastically different out here. I was just fighting myself to get the ball down the whole time. Other than fighting myself, I felt pretty good.”
[concerned over pitch count at points?]
“There were a couple long at-bats there, but he had mentioned to me that a big reason for it was because we had a couple long innings where guys were out there for a long time, put up a couple runs in one inning and a couple longs that we had, so he said that was a big part of it. But definitely the pitch count was part of it too.”
[on whether he's thinking about the fifth starter spot]
“I try not to. I try to force myself not to, because I know I have to go out there and just do my thing and try to get better in between starts – every day, really, and progress. Rick [Adair] and Mark [Connor]keep pounding in our heads it’s a progression here. If you don’t see results right away, they want to see them throughout the spring and throughout the year, and they’ve been drilling that into our heads since Day One. I’m looking more toward the long run than anything. But I am happy with my progress so far.”
*Manager Buck Showalter said there’s a 50-50 chance Brian Roberts gets into a game this weekend. Roberts will do some soft toss and tee work today at the team’s complex and could take live batting practice as soon as today, depending on how he feels.
*Derrek Lee is in a similar schedule as Roberts. He is slated to take batting practice off coach Mike Bordick today.
*Koji Uehara will pitch another bullpen and could throw again on Monday’s off day. Jeremy Guthrie will pitch that day to stay on schedule against the Twins Minor Leaguers. There could be a few other guys throwing that day as well.
*Kevin Gregg is tentatively scheduled to throw two innings in a Minor League game on Friday.
*Craig Tatum is feeling better and is going to do some running and throwing today. He’s been sidelined with some tightness in his right oblique.
*And finally, Justin Duchscherer will continue to rest today. Showalter said he’s another day or two away from throwing.
*Expect the second round of cuts in the day or two as well. The coaches will have a meeting tomorrow afternoon so it could be as soon as Friday.
*Pitching coach Mark Connor will accompany Zach Britton to his Minor League game today. Britton will go five innings to stay on turn.
Jose Tabata LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Matt Diaz RF
Ronny Cedeno SS
Jason Jaramillo C
Ross Ohlendorf RHP
Felix Pie CF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nolan Reimold LF
Matt Wieters DH
Jake Fox C
Randy Winn RF
Brendan Harris 2B
Josh Bell 3B
Brandon Snyder 1B
Chris Tillman RHP
*Bullpen hopeful Rick VandenHurk struggled tonight, facing six batters without recording an out in the seventh. Three runs scored before he left the mound and he was charged with five total on three hits and three walks.
“He didn’t have a very good statistical outing,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “[The] First three base hits were groundballs that found holes, try to keep that in mind…certainly the walks weren’t good in deep counts. That usually happens when you play the Yankees.”
VandenHurk has allowed nine earned runs in six innings this spring. Wednesday was his fourth appearance.
*Rafael Soriano asked out of throwing against the O’s tonight because he didn’t want to face a division rival.
*Chris Tillman gets the start Wednesday in Bradenton but the Orioles will stay and take BP in Sarasota first. Josh Rupe and Jeremy Accardo are also scheduled to pitch. Top pitching prospect Zach Britton will throw in a Minor League game and the plan is for him to go five innings.
*And, if anyone was curious, there was a Cameron Diaz sighting post-game by the visitors clubhouse.
Manager Buck Showalter said if all goes well, Koji Uehara, Derrek Lee and Brian Roberts could see game action this weekend.
“I got all three slated sometime this weekend if things stay on schedule,” Showalter said.
Uehara threw a bullpen session on Wednesday while Lee did tee work and soft toss. Roberts hit from both sides of the plate off the tee and Showalter said he also did some coaches’ bp. The plan is for Lee to take live bp in the next day or two.
Asked what the odds were that both Lee and Roberts were on the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, Showalter said: “If they don’t have any setbacks we will.”
*Justin Duchscherer’s situation hasn’t changed. He will rest and let the dye from his MRA kind of run its course. He said yesterday he might try to do some light catch.
*Also Zach Britton will start in a Minor League game on Tuesday. With Chris Tillman and him on the same day, and stretched to about five innings each, Britton will throw to Triple-A hitters.
*Jeremy Guthrie threw today to Boston’s Minor League hitters to avoid having to face the Yankees this late in spring. Here’s his line: 5.0IP, 6H, 2ER, 2BB, 1K, 3GDP. Some innings were extended to reach desired pitch counts. The O’s ‘pen will piece together tonight’s start instead, starting with Jim Johnson.
Robert Andino 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Luke Scott LF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Matt Wieters C
Josh Bell 1B
Cesar Izturis SS
Jim Johnson RHP
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF
Ivan Nova RHP
Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg has allowed eight earned runs over his last two outings – a 1 1/3 innings stretch – but said Tuesday he isn’t worried and is just going to scrap the mechanical adjustments he had been working on with pitching coach Mark Connor.
“Obviously they are not turning into good results on the field,” said Gregg, who allowed five runs (four earned) on three hits -including a grand slam — and a walk to the Astros.
Gregg, who was trying to learn forward more when releasing the ball, struggled to stay out of the middle of the plate and exited after recording just one out.
“Tinker with one thing and it messes up another thing,” he said. “I know I threw the ball well early, but it was something they thought I should try to change and improve. I tried to make that adjustment a little bit but it is throwing off some other mechanics in the midst of it. So [Connor] said we’ll take a step back go back to where we were and see how that works.”
Orioles starter Brad Bergesen has had a rocky spring and his fourth start on Tuesday didn’t do much in the way of reversing that.
Bergesen exited after four innings of three-run baseball, allowing four hits and two walks against an Astros road squad with only three regulars in the starting lineup. In his last three starts, Bergesen has allowed nine earned runs with 16 hits and a five walks, a span of 9 2/3 innings.
On Tuesday, all three runs came from Bill Hall’s homer, but Bergesen never looked quite comfortable, throwing just 26 of 52 pitches for strikes. He said afterwards that he has been using spring training to make some adjustments and isn’t panicked about how his final line looked.
“I know that the numbers aren’t good the last three outings, but it’s
early, it’s spring training,” Bergesen said. “We’re competitors, so you never like having
those type of numbers or giving up runs, but at the same time, you’re
not going to let that affect you mentally right now. It’s still way too
early. You can’t let those start getting to you ever, and definitely not
in spring. You wait for the season for that.”
Here’s the rest of what Bergesen had to say:
[on what he's working on]
“I made a couple adjustments these last few days with Goose and I was just trying to work on those. Working more on my sinker. I was really actually happy with how I threw my sinker today. Got in a little jam and gave up the big hit, but overall, there was a lot of positives to take out of today. My pitch count was down. Those are little things that I was happy about and try to focus on.”
[on his two 4-pitch walks:]
“That’s not good. I try to make my living throwing strikes, so for me to walk two straight guys on four pitches is not a good thing for me. It’s spring, it’s March. It’s never OK, but we’re getting our work in right now. Just got to keep working on that.”
[on how to get where he needs to be:]
“I think just putting it all together, just getting in a rhythm, finding a tempo for myself. Just attacking guys like I did. Getting ahead of guys. That allows me to get strike one and strike two, and then I can go to work on guys. That’s really my style, so that’s where I need to get to these next couple starts.”