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Pregame notes from Dunedin

Greetings from Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, where the Orioles will take on the Blue Jays. Manager Buck Showalter just met with the media and here are some of the highlights…

*Ryan Webb (knee) threw today and felt a lot better. He’s inching toward a bullpen session, which could happen next week, and help clear him to get back into games.

*Paul Janish is fully cleared and Showalter talked with him today about possibly DH’ing in the B game Sunday  and Puerto Rico game on Saturday on the back fields. He could also get into the field at some point.

Speaking of the PR game, Showalter plans to pitch Tommy Hunter and Chris Tillman in that. Zach Britton and Kevin Gausman will pitch in the B game on Sunday, with Britton possibly going multiple innings.

*Saturday’s pitching schedule against the Rays includes Brian Matusz –who is starting to help him work on his changeup– along with Darren O’Day, Wesley Wright, Tim Berry and Logan Verrett. Mike Wright and Steve Johnson are among those slated to go to Bradenton on Sunday.

*Bud Norris was not on the medical sheet today, and the Orioles aren’t aware of any kind of physical issue, Showalter said. Norris mentioned after Thursday’s start that he had a back flare-up.

“I really didn’t feel that great after my last one,” Norris said. “My back and stuff kind of flared up, but I felt good, really good now. I’m hoping the next [few] days progress well and [I] get another side [session] in and be ready to go on — I believe — Tuesday.”

Upcoming Os pitching schedule

Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy are among those who are making the trip to Jupiter, Fla. for Thursday’s game, which will be started by Bud Norris. Right-hander Brad Brach and lefty Mark Hendrickson are also listed to pitch.

Ubaldo Jimenez will start Friday’s game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, with T.J. McFarland, Tyler Wilson, Steve Johnson and Eddie Gamboa also scheduled. Saturday’s game will be started by Brian Matusz at home against the Rays, with Wei-Yin Chen starting on Sunday.

Kevin Gausman will pitch in a “B” game on Sunday, which will be seven innings.

More pregame notes

Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman will start Saturday’s game against Puerto Rican development program team on the back fields at Ed Smith Stadium. Matt Wieters, as scheduled earlier, will catch the game and manager Buck Showalter said it’s not a ploy to have Tillman avoid the O’s scheduled spring opponent, the Rays.

“[Pitching coach Dave Wallace] Wally liked to be able to control the environment a little bit,” Showalter said of the game, which will start at 2 p.m.  “I’m kind of over that keeping him away from people. There’s no secrets here. Tillman has pitched how many games against [Tampa Bay]. Sometimes he might pick up something from them. Chances are he’s not going to see a lot of guys in that [regular]lineup anyway.”

Wieters is slated to catch 5-7 innings, though that’s subjected to change based off feel. He will also pitch on Sunday in the “B” game.

***

There are no plans yet for Steve Pearce to play third base though it remains an option and in the back of Showalter’s mind. It’s an unusual spring for Pearce, who isn’t fighting to make the club and hasn’t been a regular fixture on road games because he’s a veteran.

“He will get plenty of [playing time], we are still three weeks away,” Showalter said of the challenge of holding back Pearce, who has always had to fight for a spot, a little bit in camp. “You don’t want to take away from who he really is. I’ve had a lot of players like that, that’s what made them good was knowing they worked harder and were more prepared. But with Steve, if he wasn’t starting he’d probably take 100 swings in the cage over the course of the game to be ready for that one at-bat to help the team. And now if he’s doing that and playing five or six days a week that’s counterproductive. I think it helped him stay healthy last year. When a guy has more problems with his wrist when he’s on the bench and not playing every day as opposed to when he’s playing every day, you know how much work he’s doing. We hear a constant ding in there, balls going off the cage. We all know who it is.”

Early pregame notes…

Not much news pregame, but here is the lineup for the final of a three-game spring homestand.

Ryan Webb continues to get treatment on his left knee, so there’s not a whole lot new there. Once the swelling is out, they can start to test things a bit more. Chris Davis is back in right field with Caleb Joseph behind the plate. Matt Wieters is DH’ing and none of the regulars are expected to play in Thursday’s game in Jupiter. A bunch of them could get back-to-back rest days with Friday’s game in Dunedin.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Alejandro De Aza LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters DH
Steve Pearce 1B
Manny Machado 3B
Everth Cabrera 2B
Caleb Joseph C

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

Chen showcases new changeup grip

SARASOTA, Fla.— Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen pitched three scoreless innings on Tuesday, showcasing a new changeup that he hopes can be part of his repertoire in 2015.

“Last year, I was throwing a circle change,” Chen said through his interpreter. “This year, I try a grip that’s more like a palmball and hopefully that will get my velocity more consistent. I’m going to try to see how it works.”

Chen said he will throw more changeups than he typically does in Spring Training as he’s been working with pitching coach Dave Wallace on establishing more of a difference in velocity between his change and fastball. As for the grip, it’s something that he was taught by special assignment pitching instructor Ramon Martinez.

“So far, it’s not bad,” Chen said of the new grip. “My velocity when I’m throwing my circle change, my body tends to fly open, but this year with this grip, it doesn’t. So far, it’s pretty good.”

Against the Yankees, Chen allowed one hit and struck out two in the afternoon contest at Ed Smith Stadium. He hasn’t allowed a run in five spring innings.

Oriole announce 2015 promotion schedule

Per a team release..

The Orioles today released their 2015 promotional schedule highlighted by several new items, including Kids’ Opening Day, a Buck Showalter garden gnome, a J.J. Hardy replica jersey, and an Orioles hooded sweatshirt, along with several returning fan favorites.

Opening Weekend of the 2015 season will be filled with promotions, starting with an Orioles Schedule Fathead® Decal, presented by Pizza Boli’s, given to all fans at the club’s home opener on Friday, April 10 vs. the Blue Jays. The next night, the Orioles will commemorate their ninth AL East division title with a 2014 Orioles AL East Champions Wall Art for the first 20,000 fans 15 and older. On Sunday, April 12, the Orioles will celebrate their first ever Kids’ Opening Day, as the first 7,500 fans 14 and under will receive an Orioles Braided Necklace. A variety of unique activities will be offered throughout the day at Oriole Park for randomly selected children, such as delivering the line-up card before the game and guest public address announcing, while the popular Kids Run the Bases will take place post-game for all kids 14 and under.

A new item to this season’s promotional schedule, the first 25,000 fans 15 and older through the gates on June 27 will receive a garden gnome featuring 2014 AL Manager of the Year Buck Showalter.

Along with the garden gnome, the Orioles’ promotional calendar will include several new items such as an Orioles wristlet presented by PNC Bank (May 3), Orioles BBQ apron (May 25), Orioles Hawaiian shirt (July 12), J.J. Hardy orange replica jersey (August 15), Orioles high socks (August 21), Orioles pet leash (August 23), Orioles hooded sweatshirt (September 11), and a Birdland knit scarf (September 12).

Several fan favorites return in 2015, such as the popular Friday Fireworks Nights which will occur on five occasions, including Fan Appreciation Weekend on October 2, in addition to May 29, June 26, July 31, and August 14.

Two bobblehead giveaways will take place on two different weekend dates this season, including an Oriole Bird Bobblehead on Saturday, August 1 and the popular AT&T Fans’ Choice Bobblehead on Sunday, October 4.

This season will feature four different hat giveaways: an Orioles cap presented by DAP on June 28; an Orioles plaid floppy hat presented by Miller Lite on July 10; an Orioles trucker hat on August 22; and an Orioles knit bomber hat on October 3.

There are five total T-shirt giveaways for all fans in attendance, one per month beginning in May. Several kids-exclusive giveaways and events will also take place, including a CHRIS TILLMAN growth poster on August 16, as well as returning favorites such as Kids Run the Bases, held post-game on both April 12 and August 2. In addition, the Orioles will host three Little League Days for pre-registered little leaguers (April 26, May 3, and May 31) and Field Trip Day presented by MASN and WJZ-TV on May 21.

Also continuing in 2015 will be several season-long promotions, including Ollie’s Bargain Night, presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (every Tuesday, all upper reserve tickets are $10) and AT&T Student Night (every Friday, all left field upper reserve tickets are $7 with valid photo ID).

A current list of 2015 promotions and ticket discount offers follows. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call 1-888-848-BIRD or visit www.orioles.com.

2015 ORIOLES PROMOTIONS

 

DATE       OPP.  ITEM/OFFER                    SPONSOR                                                 AGES

04/10       TOR     2015 Schedule Fathead® Decal   Pizza Boli’s                                                           All Fans

04/11       TOR     2014 AL East Champions Wall Art                                       1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

04/12       TOR     Kids’ Opening Day

Orioles Braided Necklace                                                     1st 7,500 Fans 14 & Under

Kids Run the Bases (post-game)                                                      All Fans 14 & Under

04/26       BOS     Little League Day #1                                                         Pre-registered little leaguers

05/03       TB        Orioles Wristlet                       PNC Bank                        1st 10,000 Females 15 & Over

Little League Day #2                                                         Pre-registered little leaguers

05/21       SEA      Field Trip Day                          MASN & WJZ-TV                 Pre-registered school groups

05/25       HOU     Orioles BBQ Apron                                                                1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

05/29       TB        Fireworks (post-game)                                                                                         All Fans

05/30       TB        Orioles T-Shirt                                                                                                      All Fans

05/31       TB        Little League Day #3                                                         Pre-registered little leaguers

06/12-14  NYY      OriolesREACH Food & Funds Drive OneMain Financial

06/26       CLE      Fireworks (post-game)                                                                                         All Fans

06/27       CLE      Buck Showalter Garden Gnome                                           1st 25,000 Fans 15 & Over

06/28       CLE      Orioles Cap                             DAP                                       1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

06/30       TEX      Orioles T-Shirt                                                                                                      All Fans

07/01       TEX      Orioles Tote Bag                     MLB Network                        1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

07/10       WAS    Orioles Plaid Floppy Hat         Miller Lite                              1st 20,000 Fans 21 & Over

07/12       WAS    Orioles Hawaiian Shirt                                                          1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

07/30       DET      Orioles T-Shirt                                                                                                      All Fans

07/31       DET      Fireworks (post-game)                                                                                         All Fans

08/01       DET      Oriole Bird Bobblehead                                                         1st 25,000 Fans 15 & Over

08/02       DET      Kids Run the Bases (post-game)                                                      All Fans 14 & Under

08/14       OAK     Fireworks (post-game)                                                                                         All Fans

08/15       OAK     J.J. Hardy Orange Replica Jersey                                         1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

08/16       OAK     Chris Tillman Growth Poster                                                 1st 7,500 Fans 14 & Under

08/19       NYM     Orioles T-Shirt                                                                                                      All Fans

08/21       MIN      Orioles High Socks                                                               1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

08/22       MIN      Orioles Trucker Hat                                                               1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

08/23       MIN      Orioles Pet Leash                                                                 1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

09/11       KC        Orioles Hooded Sweatshirt                                                   1st 25,000 Fans 15 & Over

09/12       KC        Birdland Knit Scarf                                                                1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

09/30       TOR     Orioles T-Shirt                                                                                                      All Fans

10/02-4    NYY      Fan Appreciation Weekend

10/02       NYY      Fireworks (post-game)                                                                                         All Fans

10/03       NYY      Orioles Knit Bomber Hat                                                       1st 20,000 Fans 15 & Over

10/04       NYY      Fans’ Choice Bobblehead       AT&T                                      1st 25,000 Fans 15 & Over

Wieters update

SARASOTA, Fla.— Orioles catcher Matt Wieters started at designated hitter again on Tuesday, going back-to-back for the first time this spring as he continues to creep closer to his first start behind the plate

“The thing is getting everything else in shape where nothing else is going to get fatigued,” said Wieters, who is slated to make his catching debut March 17, nine months after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. “Try to keep the arm as strong as possible, as long as possible. And that will be kind of the battle during the beginning of the year, making sure the arm doesn’t get tired and I start using bad throwing mechanics to where I could possibly hurt it again. And that’s the biggest thing, keeping it where it’s strong enough and fresh enough where I feel like I can throw at anytime.”

Wieters has been throwing down to the bases for about a week at 70-80 percent, trying to simulate game situations as much as possible. When March 17 comes, assuming there are no setbacks, he will be able to throw full-throttle down to the bases.

“It’s different with adrenaline when an actual baserunner takes off on you,” he said, “but we are going to cross off as many question marks as we can before the game.”

The All-Star catcher said knowing he was going to be able to serve at DH early on in camp should also help him find his timing. Wieters last played in a Major League game in May.

“I knew that it was going to be, I was going to have the at-bats in Spring Training where it wasn’t going to be, ‘OK I feel like I really need to get going here,’” said Wieters, who is among several guys manager Buck Showalter plans to give plenty of spring playing time to. “It’s a long process and you are always going to want to get hits, I don’t care if you’re hitting BP or in a game. But as far as going out there and making sure I can take full swings, cut it loose and know the elbow is going to be fine, mentally is big for me.”

Webb’s MRI comes back clean

SARASOTA, Fla.— Orioles reliever Ryan Webb had an MRI on his left knee on Monday that came back structurally OK and he’s day-to-day.

“I was playing catch and it kind of came up feeling funny for a second,” Webb said of the injury, which occurred during Sunday’s workout. “I was shaking it out and playing catch, finished doing the PFP drills and I came in and said it felt like I tweaked it. They took a look at it and iced it and iced it for the rest of the day and the swelling came up a little bit. We think I had a reaction to the ice so it swelled more than it should have.”

Webb, who was getting electronic stimulation on the area instead, said he doesn’t have any history with knee issues and was relieved the MRI came back clean.

“I was a little worried there for a second because it swelled up pretty bad, but I was thinking I didn’t do anything bad…couldn’t have been anything too serious,” he said. “It’s a big relief.”

Orioles cut 5

SARASOTA, Fla.— The Orioles trimmed their spring roster by five on Monday afternoon, optioning right-handed pitcher Oliver Drake to Triple-A Norfolk and reassigning infielder Michael Almanzar, catcher Brian Ward and pitchers Dane De La Rosa and Chris Jones to Minor League camp.

With these moves, the Orioles now have 52 players at Major League Spring Training, including 12 non-roster invitees.

De La Rosa never pitched, while Jones appeared twice and allowed one run over 2 2/3 innings. Drake allowed four earned runs over 1 1/3 innings.

Ward went 2-for-4 at the plate while Almanzar went 2-for-5 with a homer.

Webb injures knee

SARASOTA, Fla.— Reliever Ryan Webb injured his left knee during Sunday’s workout and will be sideline at least a few days, according to manager Buck Showalter.

“He’s not real sure how or when he did it, but he’s got swelling,” Showalter said of Webb’s injury which could require X-rays. “He’s going to be down for a while.

”He’ll probably get some pictures on it and see what we’ve got. They’re waiting for one of the doctors to look at it first.”

Webb doesn’t have any history of knee problems according to Showalter and the team is still waiting to officially diagnose the injury and timeframe for his return.

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