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.

Orioles @ Angels lineups and pregame notes

Greetings from Anaheim, where the O’s will take on the Angels for the second of a three-game set.

*Miguel Gonzalez is starting tonight with Preston Guilmet optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to clear a roster spot. Guilmet, 26, has posted a 5.23 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 10 appearances for the Orioles this season. Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A prior to the All-Star break to stay on track and to allow the O’s to add another person to the roster during that time. He is coming off back-to-back eight-inning outings.

*The MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) announced this morning that Adam Jones has been named the Orioles 2014 Heart & Hustle Award winner. Per the release…

This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.

“He represents all the best qualities of a teammate and competitor,” said Brooks Robinson, Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman and Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association president. “The way he plays the game sets an example for young players to follow.”

The MLBPAA formed 30 committees, comprised of Alumni players with established relationships to each team. One player from each Major League team is chosen by the committees based on their passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field. These players will be recognized prior to an upcoming home game. As the season draws to a close, fans, all Alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner from the 30 team winners. The previous overall winners are David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012) and Dustin Pedroia (2013).

The final winner will be announced on November 18,2014 at the 15th Annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City. This event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics. These clinics impact more than 15,000 children each year at 110 clinics, allowing them the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from players who have left a lasting impact on the game of baseball.

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

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

Hector Santiago LHP

Os casting wide net, seeking starters and bullpen help

ANAHEIM— The Orioles are casting a wide net leading up to this year’s Trade Deadline and it’s no secret that the club is looking for both rotation and bullpen help. They’re exploring some interesting ways to get there.

According to industry sources, Baltimore has dangled right-hander Miguel Gonzalez in potential trade talks with at least three clubs, including San Diego, with the thinking that the Orioles could potentially land a starter in return. One interesting name that has come up in preliminary talks is Padres starter Ian Kennedy. Kennedy’s stock has never been higher as he’s pitched to a 3.26 ERA in 21 games and he’s under team control —as an arbitration eligible— in 2015.

The uncertainty in dealing with San Diego, who traded closer Huston Street to the Angels over the weekend, is that the front office is undergoing massive changes. However, it’s believed that assistant general manager A.J. Hinch is itching to get a few deals done before the organization officially hires a new GM. Gonzalez, who is coming off back-to-back eight-inning starts, isn’t a guy the Orioles necessarily want to part with but he could be moved to the bullpen when injured Ubaldo Jimenez is deemed ready to return.

Baltimore is also one of several clubs with interest in A.J. Burnett, a potential fit that would make sense given that the O’s expressed interest in Burnett this winter. While Burnett has a no-trade clause it does not include Baltimore, sources confirmed to MLB.com, and he lives in nearby Monkton, Md. The O’s were linked to Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa earlier this month, although reports were that Colorado was asking for a steep price tag that includes right-hander Kevin Gausman and hasn’t come down much.

The Orioles are also seeking a sixth or seventh-inning reliever type to help bridge to Darren O’Day and closer Zach Britton along with a left-handed hitter. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Monday that he’s been in contact with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette regarding trade scenarios but typically Duquette doesn’t bring up specifics until talks become serious.

“He’s brought up one player’s name to me,” Showalter said of Duquette’s conversations with him regarding trade possibilities. “But I know, I think Dan is in tune and wired to everything that may be out there. And more importantly the cost to get it. What price? not only financially but what we look at is what it takes away from us. Not only here but below. Everybody’s price right now compared to what it would be two hours beforehand. [Now], it’s like “we would never do that.” Two hours before the deadline, it’s “Oh, we did do that.” There’s a bit of poker being played. I don’t dwell on it to much because I like our people and I don’t like, I know Dan doesn’t either, giving someone away that fits where we are and where we are going.”

Duquette has been hesitant in the past to deal any of the organization’s top prospects, and by all accounts it doesn’t look like his stance has changed. The Orioles have been able to acquire some attractive pitching depth in the lower levels of the Minor Leagues however, which make a trade or two more plausible.

Showalter said despite the down year for the American League East, and the O’s current first-place status, the organization isn’t tempted to go all-in at the expense of its future.

“There’s two thoughts of that [thinking]..how did we get there?,” Showalter said of his current group, which entered Monday with a three-game lead over the Yankees and Blue Jays. “I think we got a pretty good grip of who we are and who we are not.”

Orioles @ Angels Game 1

Greetings from Anaheim, where the Orioles will continue their three-city road trip out West with three games against the Angels.

*The Orioles added pitcher Bud Norris from the Minor Leagues to make Monday’s start against the Angels and optioned Steve Clevenger back to Triple-A Norfolk to clear a roster spot.

Norris was sent down to Double-A Bowie to stay on a schedule during the All-Star Break with Clevenger recalled on July 11 to give the Orioles a third catcher and another left-handed bat off the bench. Clevenger got just one at-bat during his time with the Orioles and was twice used as a late-game replacement. The Orioles Opening Day backup catcher, Clevenger was the odd man out when the O’s made a trade for Nick Hundley from San Diego in late May.

The Orioles will have to make another roster move on Tuesday to clear a spot for Miguel Gonzalez, who was also optioned to make a start in the Minor Leagues over the break. Manager Buck Showalter said the team was monitoring an injury to a pitcher on Monday and if that turned up OK, they would likely option a bullpen arm to make room for Gonzalez.

*In other minor injury news, Brian Matusz was unavailable the first two games of the Oakland series because he hurt his finger during Thursday’s workout. Showalter described it as a minor thing that happened in the weight room and Matusz pitched on Sunday with no issues.

*Ubaldo Jimenez (right ankle) will throw a bullpen on either Tuesday or Wednesday with the Orioles targeting the end of the week for him to make a rehab start. Jimenez was originally slated to throw in a rehab game midweek but he was favoring his ankle to much from the windup in his last bullpen session.

*Baltimore is among the teams who are in attendance in Philadelphia tonight and the Orioles have definitely discussed the possibility of trading for A.J. Burnett, MLB.com has confirmed. The O’s are also looking to upgrade their bullpen and are casting a pretty wide net right now, meaning a lot of names will be coming up in the next week-and-a-half or so leading up to the Trade Deadline. Stay tuned.

Here are your lineups…

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

Bud Norris RHP

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

Orioles vs. Yankees first half finale

Greetings from Camden Yards, where the Orioles will play the Yankees in the first-half finale. Regardless of tonight’s outcome the O’s will go into the All-Star Break in first place in the American League East.

Not a whole lot of pre-game news, although Bud Norris will go around 100 pitches on Monday for Double-A Bowie and Gonzalez will aim for 90-95 for Norfolk later in the week. (Besides Norris and Gonzalez’s outings, Dylan Bundy will be pitching on Wednesday for Frederick if you need to get your baseball fix.) Speaking of the Minor Leagues, veteran pitcher Randy Wolf has opted out of his contract, with the Virginia-Pilot reporting earlier today that the lefty had his stuff all packed up and said goodbye to teammates.

The O’s will say goodbye for a few days, with the plan for the team to fly pretty early to the West Coast on Thursday. They will also have a workout on Thursday. In the meantime, all of your All-Star coverage for the Orioles will be on Orioles.com over the next few days as some of my colleagues are already in Minnesota and will provide comprehensive coverage of the game and Home Run Derby. I’ll be taking a few days to recharge and will meet the team on the West Coast.

Here are your lineups…

YANKEES LINEUP
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Kelly Johnson LF
Yangervis Solarte 3B

Chase Whitley RHP

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

Kevin Gausman RHP

Orioles vs. Yankees Game 2

Greetings from Camden Yards, where there’s been more roster shuffling given the upcoming All-Star Break. The Orioles have added Steve Clevenger, mostly as a left-handed bat, to fortify the bench and optioned last night’s starter Miguel Gonzalez to clear a roster spot.

Gonzalez has gone eight innings in back-to-back outings and the O’s want to keep him on a schedule so he will head home to the West Coast and then start on Thursday for Triple-A Norfolk. He will head back to the West Coast to meet the team and pitch in the Tuesday game in Anaheim. Bud Norris, who they optioned to Double-A Bowie to also stay on track, is pitching the series opener with the Angels on Monday.

Speaking of starters, Kevin Gausman is here to take the roster spot of Ubaldo Jimenez, who the Os will place on the DL to active Gausman for Sunday’s start. Manager Buck Showalter said today that the Orioles have it set up so that Gausman can pitch until the Orioles season ends and he won’t be shut down early.

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

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