It was a quick day today as the Orioles head off to their annual charity golf tournament. Also, I’m having some trouble adding pictures and videos today so please visit my Facebook page to view them all for today: https://www.facebook.com/brittghiroli
*The Orioles are piping in noise from two of their playoff games last year to use while they work on pop-up and priority drills. Typically when they work on these things in the spring it’s quiet and obviously that’s not a good replication of during the season so manager Buck Showalter is implementing this method this year. Interesting.
*Steve Johnson did not throw his scheduled bullpen today because he jammed his right middle finger during pitchers’ fielding practice yesterday.
Johnson was waiting to get an X-Ray this afternoon, but didn’t think it was anything serious.
“It felt a lot better than it did yesterday, just got to ice it,” Johnson said.
“Hopefully it’s a day thing and [I’m back out there].”
*Here are the Orioles who did throw bullpen sessions today: Dane De La Rosa, Brian Matusz, Wesley Wright, Oliver Drake, Chaz Roe, Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa, Jason Garcia, Chris Jones, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, Hunter Harvey, Logan Verrett.
*Caleb Joseph is back in camp today, after leaving early yesterday when his pregnant wife, Brooke, was hospitalized. Joseph said it wasn’t anything serious, just precautionary, with Brook being due on March 1.
*Rey Navarro and Jayson Nix both reported to camp today, in advance of Tuesday’s full-squad report date. Nix was a late signing and said he thought the Orioles had a good thing going. With the injury to Paul Janish, his versatility could be a factor this spring.
“What I’ve done the last few years, doing a variety of things,” Nix said of what he brings to the Orioles. “Playing all over the field, playing short, second and third mainly, but also being able to play in the outfield. Wherever they put me, I’m very versatile in that way. And whatever need arises, whatever is needed, I can fill.”
Nix has played for eight teams in seven years and has gotten a good look at the Orioles over the years.
“I remember looking back to 2012 when I was in New York and coming down the stretch that season in September, this team was really playing good and we were fighting with them down the stretch and then in the playoffs that year,” Nix said. “I could really see it turn that year. That was the first year for me playing and seeing this team win seeing and Baltimore come alive, and ever since then it’s been that way. Yeah, I’ve definitely seen it, and I know for a team to be playing like that, they’ve got to have a lot of good things going on in the clubhouse.”
*David Lough is an interesting guy to watch this spring. A lot of people didn’t notice how well he did the final four months of the season, batting .337, because of the slow start Lough had. He suffered a concussion last spring that Lough admitted this morning lingered on and was tough to get over while on the field at the start of the year.
“It was more of a mental thing,” Lough said. “It was with me, I kind of felt it a little bit. And with baseball you got to have a clear mind a little bit. If it’s stuck in your mind, it’s just going to be worse. And that’s how it was for the first half of the season. And after that, I was like you know what? I just got to get let it go. Play baseball. And I ended up playing a lot better.”
With no Nick Markakis or Nelson Cruz, Lough will get more of an opportunity this spring. But there’s a lot of competition in camp, making the outfield situation one of the more interesting storylines this spring.
“I told Dan [Duquette] the other day, it’s the guy that they traded for,” Lough said. “And hopefully he’s here to stay.”
It was Duquette who made a bold statement at last year’s FanFest regarding Lough, telling Orioles fans that the new acquisition –who they got in a trade from the Royals– was better than the departed Nate McLouth in nearly every facet of the game. But Lough –whose concussion-like symptoms first came up during March 8’s inside-the-park homer– couldn’t shake off the spring injury, batting .159 in his first 38 games (98 plate appearances).
The early struggles didn’t help endear him to Orioles fans and Lough –despite a solid second half– had trouble climbing out of the early hole, finishing the season with a .247/.309/.385 line in 112 games.
“I was on a roll and I was doing some good things for the ball club,” Lough said of his season from June 1 on. “I felt like that was the old me, swing-wise and having my mental approach going up to the plate. It’s just trying to bring that into Spring Training [this year] and put those first 100 at-bats from last year aside and have a good spring.”
Lough is eager to show the fans a “bit more this year” in terms of what he can do on the field. Now he just has to prove he deserves that chance this spring.
“I hope so, that Buck looks at the whole playing field here and sees what we got and feels that I’m capable of doing a lot of things to help this ball club,” Lough said. “Whether it’s leading off for the team or doing something in a starting role.”
*Travis Snider, who is a huge Seahawks fan, is also fitting in quite well at his new camp. After his club lost the Super Bowl, Snider is now indebted to Patriots fan Ryan Flaherty, who will get a steak dinner of his choosing during the season.
*MLB.com’s columnist Richard Justice took a good look at the Orioles from yesterday’s camp and you can read that here.
*Alejandro De Aza reported to camp today (early) and said there’s no hard feelings about losing in arbitration.
“Win or lose, life goes on,” he said. “Everything is going to be the same.”
Still, those hearings can be quite contentious as the Orioles point out why he’s not worth that much and his side argues the reverse. De Aza, who was arbitration eligible for the first time this winter, said it wasn’t as bad as he had heard from other players.
“I thought it was going to be worse,” he said.
As for baseball, De Aza is excited to get fresh start with Baltimore at the beginning of the year and he will have a more prominent role without Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz.
*Caleb Joseph left Sunday’s workout early as his wife, Brooke, was taken to a local hospital. She’s due with the couple’s first child on March 1 and manager Buck Showalter said the hospital visit isn’t anything serious.
*Dylan Bundy is slated to start the season in Double-A, manager Buck Showalter said. Bundy threw his second bullpen session today and has no physical restrictions this spring.
*Dane De La Rosa is coming off right meniscus surgery in September, but Showalter said he thinks he will be fine. They’ll probably just be a little cautious with him early.
*New Oriole Jayson Nix is expected to report to camp Monday or Tuesday.
*Brad Brach, who is out of options, could have a “more significant role” this year. Showalter said Brach -coming off a breakout year- has a different vibe about him in camp. He’s expected to make the team’s bullpen.
*Ryan Webb has lost weight and Showalter noted that it’s good weight as Webb appears to be in better shape. It’s a big year for the right-hander, who is trying to make the team. He’ll have to be quicker to the plate than he was last year to help his chances.
*The bullpen session list today was Ubaldo Jimenez, Darren O’Day, Bud Norris, Tommy Hunter, Chris Tillman, Ryan Webb, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, T.J. McFarland, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Mark Hendrickson.
*I wrote a little bit about Hunter Harvey yesterday, (and you can see video of his first bullpen session yesterday here).
Showalter does everything for a reason. So, it’s highly unlikely it’s a coincidence that veteran pitchers Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter have been in pitching prospect Harvey’s group during Spring Training’s early workouts.
“In the PFP [pitchers fielding practice] groups, having O’Day and Hunter, if they see something I don’t do right they help me,” said Harvey, 20, who is the youngest pitcher in camp. “They’ve helped me a lot just about everything.”
Harvey threw his first bullpen session on Saturday, to quite the large crowd, and drew raves later from Showalter for keeping calm. His secret? Pretending he was having at home throwing to his regular offseason catcher, his brother Chris.
While Harvey admitted being in his first big league camp is still “pretty nerve-wracking— he has been gotten a warm welcome since arriving. He walked off the field Saturday to hand shakes from Chris Tillman and Zach Britton and Bud Norris, another member of the rotation, made it a point Sunday morning to ask about how things went.
“I look up to just about all of those guys,” Harvey said. “So, [seeing them there] was a really good feeling.”
Coming off his first full pro season, which was shortened by a right flexor mass strain, Harvey has been fully cleared since mid-December and attended the Orioles mini-camp in January.
Asked what he’s learned from his limited time as a pro, Harvey said it’s to control himself.
“In high school it’s full-go every pitch. I probably got nine or 10 starts,” said Harvey, who pitched to a 3.18 ERA in 17 starts for Class-A Delmarva last season. “In this I’m getting around 30. So, really just taking care of myself and making sure I can make it through the full season.”
*Lots of bullpen action today, but that’s also infielders Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop doing some running work pictured above. (There’s a video on my Instagram/Twitter accounts from earlier). Yes, Manny’s knee looks fine. Also, Schoop has really slimmed down and that should help his speed on the basepaths.
The Orioles had the following guys throw today: Dane De La Rosa, Brian Matusz, Wesley Wright, Oliver Drake, Steve Johnson, Chaz Roe, Chris Jones, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa, Jason Garcia, Hunter Harvey and Logan Verrett.
Garcia, one of the two Rule 5 Draft picks, throws hard. You can hear the glove pop pretty frequently. It was also interesting to watch Harvey, one of the Orioles best young pitching prospects, throw to quite the audience. Not only were the prominent members of the organization on hand, but several players also stayed to watch. Chris Tillman and Zach Britton waited until Harvey finished to shake his hand, with Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, Kevin Gausman and Miguel Gonzalez among those who watched Hunter’s first ‘pen.
“They are engaged in the group. These guys don’t separate themselves,” Showalter said of the veterans who weren’t pitching still wanting to watch. “They are looking for an ally, they are looking for help. They want to be good.”
*Speaking of O’Day, he will be slow played this spring. As a veteran reliever he doesn’t need as much time to get ready. Lefty Brian Matusz will be stretched out again this spring, a move which helps him get a feel for his changeup.
*The Orioles won their arbitration hearing on Friday against outfielder Alejandro De Aza, which means he will make $5 million in 2015. De Aza’s side had requested $5.65 million, but he still gets a good raise from the $4.25 million he made last year.
De Aza was the Orioles only arbitration case that went to a hearing and continues the organization’s recent success in those trials with general counsel H. Russell Smouse 8-0. Acquired in an August trade from the White Sox, De Aza flourished with Baltimore and is expected to get fairly consistent playing time in the corner outfield spots this winter.
*Ubaldo Jimenez was among those who threw bullpens yesterday and the right-hander is sticking with the simplified delivery he incorporated last year. (You can watch the video of him throwing on my Twitter and Facebook feeds.)
“My mechanics got so messed up, I was going way too far and I was losing sight of home plate,” Jimenez said of last year. “I mean, you are supposed to do that [overhead motion] and stay over. I was going way over and I didn’t know it. I didn’t know it until they showed me.”
Jimenez’s hands are now lowered and stay there, a delivery that looks more like what Chris Tillman does. It’s not a new delivery for Jimenez, as it was something he did in the Minor Leagues. He only added the motion to go over his head as a way to stay back on the rubber in his younger days.
The new delivery worked well for the final two months of the season although it still wasn’t enough for Jimenez to be on the team’s American League Championship Series roster. Jimenez left the team during that time, which drew a lot of negative attention, though he said that it wasn’t sour grapes.
“I had some business I had to take care of personally back in my country,” said Jimenez, who returned to the Dominican Republic. “Everything is OK. It wasn’t at that time.”
“As a player you are not going to be happy to not be on the roster, but as a player I didn’t take it that way,” Jimenez said. “I didn’t start anything and I said ‘OK, I wish them the best’. And I saw all the games. I made sure I kept myself ready in case they needed me after that.”
So does Jimenez, who went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA last year, think the O’s and their fans have seen what he can do?
“Not even a little bit. They haven’t” Jimenez said. “I cant wait [to show them].”
“As a player you are trying to do the best. The season wasn’t the one you wanted it to be, of course you aren’t going to be happy. You know you have something that you have to prove.”
SARASOTA, Fla.— Matt Wieters joked Friday morning that he’s going to limit the number of interviews he gives out this spring. It may not be such a bad idea as the All-Star catcher, who is coming off season-ending Tommy John surgery on June 17, will have every step chronicled in camp as he tries to be ready for the start of the season.
“There’s still a lot of ifs,” Wieters, who won’t be cleared to throw full-throttle to the bases until March 17, said of being ready come Opening Day. “God-willing, everything will keep going how it’s going and keep progressing. We’ll be two weeks for being behind the plate, especially if I’ve been able to hit and been able to really catch other than throw. It should be plenty of time if we can get those two weeks in before Opening Day. This whole year is going to be a matter of how the body feels. It’s a surgery I’ve never gone through and not many catchers have, so it’s going to be seeing how the body feels and go from there.”
Wieters threw back-to-back days, reaching up to 120 feet plus, and will take Friday off as a result. He said his arm feels great and he wants to do everything possible to make sure his body is ready for the grind of a 162-game season.
“I think I‘ve been looking forward to this spring more than any other spring,” Wieters said. “Just being able to go out there and play.”
Wieters, who was on pace for a career offensive year, underwent surgery on June 17. Exactly nine months later, he will be cleared to throw out baserunners by the performing surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.
“Nine months was our best case scenario when we first did it,” Wieters said. “So far, everything has fortunately gone well enough to wear nine months is still our goal.”
Was technically yesterday Day 1 of camp? You can make the argument. But, I’m going with today –the first official workout for pitchers and catchers– as the start of the daily blog recapping all the events. This main entry will be updated a few times a day, recapping workouts, providing pregame notes (when they start with games), pictures and other tidbits.
Some of the more newsy updates will be broken out into story form on Orioles.com, where you can always find daily video from Spring Training as well as longer features. For instant updates, follow along on Twitter. I’ll also be posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook to make getting the Orioles spring news an easy part of your daily lives.
Welcome to Spring Training 2015, everyone. And thanks, as always, for following along.
*Matt Wieters held court at his locker for a little while this morning, after throwing back-to-back days, and he will take a rest day today. Wieters is still on track to be ready Opening Day and, as I wrote yesterday, isn’t cleared to throw full-throttle to the bases until March 17.
“There’s still a lot of ifs,” Wieters said. “God-willing, everything will keep going how it’s going and keep progressing. We’ll be two weeks for being behind the plate, especially if I’ve been able to hit and been able to really catch other than throw. It should be plenty of time if we can get those two weeks in before Opening Day. This whole year is going to be a matter of how the body feels. It’s a surgery I’ve never gone through and not many catchers have, so it’s going to be seeing how the body feels and go from there.”
*Steve Johnson re-signed with the Orioles organization this winter and is pretty much good to go physically after having a spur shaved down behind his right shoulder.
“I calmed it down a little bit. I usually throw a little bit more,” Johnson said of his offseason regimen. “Mainly I’m trying to be ready for opening day and make sure that happens, but if everything goes well I don’t see myself holding back at all. I might not have thrown as much before I got here, but I may not have needed all that. I might just be fine the way I am right now.”
Johnson said comfort was a big factor in deciding to return to Baltimore as they’ve seen him pitch, as both a starter and a reliever, firsthand. He doesn’t have a preference as to his role this season and didn’t indicate that his shoulder would be better served in one capacity over the other.
*Lots of talk this morning among the pitchers regarding the new rules about pace of place (which you can read here.) One of the main concerns was how strictly the rule about batters keeping a foot in the box will be enforced, particularly among superstar hitters.
*Count Chris Davis among the early position players to arrive as the first baseman was seen in the clubhouse this morning, adding to an already-big group of early guys.
*Also, in the Maryland area….Zion Lutheran Church will hold its fifth annual baseball talk at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 23 in the church’s sanctuary, 2215 Brandywine Lane, York. This year’s event features: Fred Manfra, radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles; Mel Antonen, baseball writer for MASN and Sirius/XM talk show host; and Dan Connolly, Orioles/national baseball writer for The Baltimore Sun. The panelists will discuss the upcoming baseball season – including their thoughts on the Orioles and Phillies — and will answer questions from the audience. There is no admission fee, but a freewill offering will be taken to benefit the church’s youth attending the National Youth Gathering this July in Detroit. In addition, signed copies of Connolly’s soon-to-be-released book, “100 Things Orioles Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die,” will be available for purchase for $15 following the event. For more information, contact the church at 717-767-4673.
SARASOTA, Fla.— Matt Wieters could catch in an Orioles intrasquad game this spring -on March 1 and 2— as the backstop has been cleared to do everything but thrown full-throttle to the bases.
“We control that,” manager Buck Showalter said of the run game during the team’s intrasquad matchups. “I don’t want to get to the 17th [of March] and have him catch three innings the first time. I want him to catch, five, six, seven out of the chute. We can do that. We can handle it. Whether it’s a ‘B’ game, intrasquad…we could find games left and right.”
Showalter said he probably wouldn’t take Wieters to the Orioles first spring game in Lakeland, Fla., but —coming off Tommy John surgery in June— Wieters’ legs are built up a lot earlier than they usually are in camp.
“He can throw the ball back to the pitcher [in a game],” Showalter said. “He wants to throw on bunt defense. What he’s doing out here right now [on the back fields] he can do in a game.”
Wieters isn’t cleared to throw full-throttle until March 17, a cautious deadline that Showalter expects will make Wieters pretty anxious when the time finally comes. Wieters, and third baseman Manny Machado, are expected to get a lot of at-bats this spring as they are both coming off season-ending surgeries.
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said there are still some “issues” to resolve regarding the pending signing of Everth Cabrera and it could not be done until next week. Nothing has changed on the O’s end, it’s just a little bit of a slow process.
Here are some of the other highlights from Duquette’s session with the media.
*Infielder Paul Janish had surgery a few days ago to remove bone chips from his right elbow and is expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks. The news is also one of the reasons the O’s signed Jayson Nix to a Minor League deal (which was officially announced today), a move that gives there depth.
*Duquette said that the Orioles are still looking to add relief help and that if they do sign some bullpen guys it will likely be a Minor League deal at this point. He noted that Baltimore is confident the bullpen, which lost only Andrew Miller, will once again be one of its strengths.
*Another huge factor in the O’s upcoming season isn’t about their offseason transaction list.
“The most powerful thing we’ve done for our team in the offseason is get [Manny] Machado and [Matt] Wieters and [Chris] Davis back on it and get them healthy and playing ball,” Duquette said.
Machado is among the early arrivals for the position players and is expected to be a full go in camp.
*Duquette didn’t seem confident that the O’s would avoid an arbitration hearing with Alejandro De Aza, which is scheduled for tomorrow.
The Orioles have officially started Spring Training, with the pitchers and catchers report date the first sign of a new camp. There will be an informal workout today, as there has been the past few days, with the first actual practice on Friday.
Here are a few early notes from the clubhouse….
*The Everth Cabrera deal will not be announced today, though it could be made official later this week. The news broke yesterday that Baltimore was on the verge of a deal with the infielder, who has already taken his physical. Jayson Nix, who the Orioles agreed to a Minor League deal with a spring invite on Tuesday, has a locker set up but no sign of him just yet. That deal has also not been made official by the club.
*J.P. Arencibia is a guy to watch this spring as he competes for a spot. The rehab of Matt Wieters could change what catchers are on the O’s Opening Day roster, but Arencibia has had success at the Major League level and could vie for a backup spot -with Caleb Joseph- even if Wieters starts the season.
Arencibia spent four seasons with Toronto, before playing in the Rangers organization last year, and said there were opportunities for him to sign with other places that would have had a little easier path to the big leagues.
“I wanted to be able to go to one, [a] great team, and two, to a situation where I know I can help a team win,” Arencibia said. “And this is a team that wins, and I know I can be an asset.”
Arencibia had his best offensive season in 2011, hitting 23 homers and posting a .219/.282/.438 line. He started 2013 well, hitting 16 first-half homers, but finished the season poorly with a .194 average and 22 homers total. He was non-tendered at the end of the season and signed with Texas.
“Last season was a tough year, but a great learning experience for me,” Arencibia said. “I started off slow. So it was a good thing to be able to go down [to the Minors] and reset, go down for a month. You kind of look at yourself in a mirror and you say, ‘I was once [in 2010] MVP of this [Pacific Coast] League. Why am I back in it?’ It was something where I just kind of had to make adjustments and had to do things to further my career. I had too much ability to be where I was.
It was a huge learning experience. I was able to get going, get back [to the Majors], have success. So, then it was like something where I can still do damage, i can still help a team win. I can still do things on an every day basis to hep a team, whatever it may be. [New Orioles hitting coach Scott] Coolbaugh was another big part of my decision, he was with me for the month I was down. We had a good relationship. I figured that it was something that would be able to help me going into this season.”
*There are numerous position players already here, including Nolan Reimold who agreed to a Minor League deal this offseason.
“I never wanted to leave in the first place,” said Reimold who was claimed on waivers by Toronto during last season. “So obviously, I’m happy to be back. I just think that this will be the best place for me and I need to go out and show that I can stay healthy and play. I think it will all work out.”
Why did Reimold want to return to Baltimore?
“I guess there’s a lot of reasons that go into it, but I think the staff here, the management, everybody, I know them, I’m comfortable with them,” he said. “They really have the player’s best interest at heart. For me, staying healthy, I’m a big fan and advocate of the strength program and things that have been done here, so I think that would be a big thing too. It’s just a place where I feel comfortable and I feel a little sense of loyalty to the Orioles. If I’m going to have a career, this is where I want it to be.”
*Darren O’Day was among those who welcomed new additions to the family this winter, as the pitcher was carrying around his infant daughter this morning.
Zion Lutheran Church will hold its fifth annual baseball talk at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 23 in the church’s sanctuary, 2215 Brandywine Lane, York. This year’s event features: Fred Manfra, radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles; Mel Antonen, baseball writer for MASN and Sirius/XM talk show host; and Dan Connolly, Orioles/national baseball writer for The Baltimore Sun. The panelists will discuss the upcoming baseball season – including their thoughts on the Orioles and Phillies — and will answer questions from the audience. There is no admission fee, but a freewill offering will be taken to benefit the church’s youth attending the National Youth Gathering this July in Detroit. In addition, signed copies of Connolly’s soon-to-be-released book, “100 Things Orioles Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die,” will be available for purchase for $15 following the event. For more information, contact the church at 717-767-4673.
Per a team release…
The first official spring training workout day for Orioles pitchers and catchers at Ed Smith Stadium will be held on Friday, February 20. Fans are invited to watch the team’s workouts on the back fields at the complex each day until March 4, when home games begin. There is no charge to attend, and free parking is available in the East Lot off of 12th Street and Tuttle Avenue.
Orioles pitchers and catchers will take the field at approximately 10:00 a.m. on Friday, February 20. The club will work out from approximately 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. each day, leading up to the first home game against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, March 4. The first full team workout will be held on Wednesday, February 25.
Tickets for the Orioles’ spring training home games are available atwww.orioles.com/spring and at the Ed Smith Stadium Box Office each day from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The Orioles are on the verge of signing infielder Everth Cabrera to a one-year deal, MLB.com has confirmed. Cabrera, who has already taken his physical, will be part of the O’s 40-man roster and presents a speedy option that could alterÂ how the Orioles break camp.
With 99 steals in the last three seasons, Cabrera has played predominantly shortstop over his Major League career though he has also played a dozen games at second base. While J.J. Hard is firmly entrenched at shortstop, Cabrera could vie for the second base job or the utility infielder role, making for an interesting competition with him, Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop.
He owns a career .248/.319/.333 line in six Major League seasons and could also be a leadoff option for the O’s, who are looking to fill the spot since losing Nick Markakis.
A former National League All-Star who was non-tendered by the Padres this winter, Cabrera doesn’t come without some drawbacks. Besides being a player implicated –and suspended– in the Biogenesis scandal, the 28-year-old is facing a pending misdemeanor charge for resisting arrest during a Sept. 3 incident.
On that day, Cabrera was arrested on the suspicion of driving under the influence for marijuana and was also cited for possession of the drug. If convicted he could face up to a year in jail. Cabrera has pleaded not guilty and the trial is set for mid-April.
The O’s, particularly under manager Buck Showalter, haven’t been afraid to take on players that come with baggage. Last season they added both Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young, who flourished in the clubhouse and on the field. They re-signed Young this winter.
Cabrera played in 90 games last season, twice going on the disabled list for hamstring issues.