Results tagged ‘ Jim Johnson ’

Thoughts on Simon, Lee, LaRoche relievers

First, a happy and healthy New Year to all of you. Sorry for the slacking on blog entries here, but I’ve been trying to finish up my move to Baltimore. Usually, the holidays provide an ideal time for a beat reporter because it’s slower news-wise. But that hasn’t been the case for the O’s, as they reached a verbal agreement with Derrek Lee and have some serious issues coming out of the Dominican Republic.

*Yesterday saw some terribly tragic news with potential ramifications far beyond the baseball realm for Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon. Simon is the main suspect in a murder, although he has said he is innocent.

I’ve talked and exchanged texts with several of the Orioles players and team officials, and it’s certainly news that has shaken -and shocked – the organization. Simon was a pretty quiet guy in the clubhouse, but was well-liked and lauded for his efforts in the bullpen when Koji Uehara, Jim Johnson and Michael Gonzalez were hurt.  Although details are still emerging, I’d expect some sort of team statement today on the matter. News like this really puts baseball in perspective, doesn’t it?

*As for agreeing to terms with Lee, who will likely get his physical on Wednesday, I like the move. It’s a one-year deal with incentives that reportedly can get up to $10 million and the feeling is Lee and Mark Reynolds -who are both known to be tough, gritty players – will help add some pop to the lineup and some intensity to the O’s clubhouse. Both Reynolds and Lee played though injuries last season and -in addition to shoring up the corner infield defense – they are both outstanding guys to have around in terms of work ethic and, in manager Buck Showalter-speak, “want to”.

Signing Lee also makes Luke Scott the O’s regular DH, although a scenario where Lee and Scott switch once or twice a week wouldn’t surprise me.  

*I’ve gotten a lot of questions on what happened with Adam LaRoche negotiations, and the feeling in the front office was that, in the end, LaRoche didn’t want to come to Baltimore.

The O’s were very interested in LaRoche, but MASN.com’s report about a three-year deal being on the table was simply not true. Multiple sources -and several other media outlets in addition to MLB.com — confirmed there was never a three-year offer formally extended to LaRoche.

I had one source close to negotiations tell me that the Orioles were even hesitant to give LaRoche a two-year deal over a one-year offer to Lee. That should make those of you who were outraged at the idea of locking up LaRoche long term feel much, much better.

This is all (finally) over and –pending a physical — the Orioles have a legitimate first baseman in three-time Gold Glover winner Lee.

*Now what? The Orioles would still like another bat off the bench, a veteran starter and another catcher before heading to Spring Training, which is literally around the corner.

But the bullpen–especially with Simon in limbo–remains a top priority. The O’s have an offer out to right-hander Kevin Gregg and they would like to add a right-hander and a lefty to the current ‘pen. Losing Simon would give them another right-handed hole to fill. It could also make Grant Balfour a more enticing choice. The Orioles are interested, but as of Monday had not put a formal offer out to Balfour, who is a Type-A free agent and would cost the O’s their second-round Draft pick.

*Finally, I’m working on an Orioles inbox for Tuesday, so send any and all Orioles questions to brittany.ghiroli@mlb.com and include your name and hometown. Or send me a question on Twitter.  Thanks!

More pregame notes

*The Orioles have not received Dr. Lewis Yocum’s opinion on Jake Arrieta’s bone spur, so right now the surgical procedure remains on hold. As a quick recap, Arrieta has a spur in his right elbow area that he’s hesitant to remove given that he hasn’t been bothered by it in the past.The O’s have taken the approach that they’d rather be safe and get the procedure done, instead of worrying about it down the road. Yocum is providing a second opinion on Arrieta’s MRI.
*Kevin Millwood will make his final start Wednesday with Thursday and Friday’s starters up in the air. One of those will be Jeremy Guthrie but if the O’s tab Chris Tillman to start, they will give him Thursday. If they go Rick VandenHurk, he will go Friday and Guthrie will go Thursday since VandenHurk pitched on Sunday in Toronto. Tillman will not pitch out of the bullpen if the Os elect to give VandenHurk another start.
*Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen will be the last two games, with Bergesen finishing up the season.
*Jim Johnson is not campaigning to start. He was asked if he liked starting better than relieving, which is a fairly obvious answer for most pitchers. Who wouldn’t like to get four days off and pitch one day? But he is not going to approach manager Buck Showalter about wanting to start. It’s also important to keep in mind Johnson has elbow issues and was available to avoid surgery with rehab. Having him serve as a bridge in the bullpen instead of a starter throwing over 100 pitches an outing, is probably best for the O’s – and JJ – long term.

News and Notes

*Third overall pick Manny Machado went 0-for-3 with a strikeout today in the Orioles Gulf Coast League game. Machado served at DH and is expected to play the field next week. He’s been working out with offensive coordinator and roving infield instructor Mike Bordick, who has been impressed in his first look at the 18-year-old Machado.

*Jim Johnson will be activated for tonight’s game in Anaheim. Manager Buck Showalter said he would try to stay away from going back-to-back with Johnson, but he’s not going to baby him either. Showalter said they wouldn’t have activated him if he wasn’t a full-go, so expect him to be in the back half of the bullpen soon, if not right away.

Johnson (right elbow inflammation) is on the 60-day disabled list and
will need to be added to the team’s 40-man roster. Given that Jason
Berken is done for the season with a slight tear in his right labrum,
the expected move is to shift him from the 15 to the 60-day DL.

*Chris Tillman struggled for Triple-A Norfolk last night, allowing six earned runs on eight hits and not making it out of the third inning. Still, the 22-year-old Tillman is expected to be a September callup.  Prior to last night, he had been pitching well at Norfolk and it’s time for the Orioles, and new manager Buck Showalter, to see what they have in Tillman.

*Double-A Bowie’s win last night pushes the Baysox to 69-62 on the season, though
they remain 1 1/2 games behind Harrisburg for third place and the final
playoff spot in the Eastern League’s Western Division. The O’s are hoping the Baysox can make the postseason, and it would provide an easy place for David Hernandez (left ankle sprain) to get in a rehab outing or two.

*I wrote last night about Jake Arrieta’s struggle with location, but here are some numbers that might have gotten lost along the way. In 83 Major League innings, he has issued 46 walks against 39
strikeouts. Arrieta has walked at least two batters in all 15 of his
starts — he has walked four or more in five outings. Last night, he issued three free passes in the first inning and while he only escaped with one run, it’s still something that needs to be addressed, and improved upon, for next season.

“You look at his history and his track record in the Minor Leagues, he didn’t have as much of a problem,” Showalter said of Arrieta’s location issues. “Guys are more selective up here. They tick off some two-strike pitches and they make you make them again and again. It’s part of the process but we’ve also seen some really good things from him. You can see that at times that he really grasps it. Stuff is not an issue.”

*One final sidenote: I won’t be in Anaheim as I’m in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a friend’s wedding this weekend instead. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s my second wedding in two weekends. But, as always all your Orioles news and notes will be on the website and in the very capable hands of associate reporter Evan Drellich.

Johnson to be activated Friday

CHICAGO– Orioles reliever Jim Johnson came through Tuesday’s two-inning stint with Double-A Bowie with no reported problems and he is expected to be activated for Friday’s series in Anaheim.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter spoke with Johnson on Wednesday and said the right-hander didn’t experience any residual effects, which was the team’s only real concern. Johnson allowed one hit over two scoreless innings on Tuesday, striking out three, and will provide a boost to an Orioles bullpen currently without David Hernandez and Jason Berken.

Showalter said he wouldn’t hesitate to have Johnson (right elbow inflammation) throw multiple innings if needed, but he will try to stay away -initially at least — from using him on back-to-back days.

“But if the situation presents itself to, we feel confident using him period,” Showalter said of Johnson, who hasn’t appeared in a Major League game since April 30. “We wouldn’t bring him up if we didn’t think he was a go-guy. We will put him in the fire if we had to.”

Since Johnson is on the 60-day disabled list, the Orioles will need to clear a space on the 40-man roster with Berken the obvious choice. Berken is done for the season after an MRI earlier this month revealed a slight tear in his right labrum and rotator cuff inflammation.  

Orioles/White Sox lineups and pregame tidbits

*As expected Jim Johnson will be activated for Friday’s series opener in Anaheim.

*David Hernandez threw a bullpen session in Saraosta today with no reported problems. They are working toward him throwing live batting practice on Sept. 1, according to manager Buck Showalter. Hernandez said yesterday he was hoping to return early next month and the Orioles will probably have him pitch at Bowie or Frederick in a rehab outing first.

*Adam Jones is out of the lineup but is available if needed. Jones took a fastball to his left shoudler blade last night and is still pretty sore.

*Luke Scott’s right foot had a nice bruise on it –after fouling off a ball in the fifth inning last night– but the O’s dodged a bullet and he’s back in the lineup today.   

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Brian Roberts 2B
Corey Patterson LF
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Felix Pie CF
Matt Wieters C
Cesar Izturis SS
Josh Bell 3B
Brian Matusz LHP

WHITE SOX LINEUP:
Juan Pierre LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Alex Rios CF
Paul Konerko 1B
Carlos Quentin DH
A.J. Pierzynski C
Andruw Jones RF
Omar Vizquel 3B
Gordon Beckham 2B
Mark Buehrle LHP

Orioles/White Sox lineups and pregame tidbits

*Jason Berken’s second opinion in New York today revealed the same thing as his first MRI, which is a good thing. Berken won’t need surgery and the hope right now is he can rehab and rest his right labrum and be ready to go for next spring. 

*Jim Johnson (right elbow inflammation) threw two scoreless innings for Double-A Bowie on Tuesday afternoon, allowing one hit and striking out three. Johnson will take two days off before the Orioles decide the next step. He could be activated for this weekend’s series in Anaheim (which starts Friday) but a lot of that will depend on how he feels after this outing.  

ORIOLES LINEUP:

Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Matt Wieters C
Cesar Izturis SS
Josh Bell 3B

RHP Jeremy Guthrie

WHITE SOX LINEUP:
Juan Pierre LF
Omar Vizquel 3B
Alex Rios CF
Paul Konerko 1B
Carlos Quentin RF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Alexei Ramirez SS
Mark Teahen DH
Gordon Beckham 2B

RHP Gavin Floyd

Pair to go to Bowie

Orioles outfielder Lou Montanez will report to Double-A Bowie and is expected to play in Wednesday night’s game, with reliever Jim Johnson joining him on Thursday.

Montanez played in four Gulf Coast League games, going 3-for-15 (.200) with an RBI and has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 26 with a left oblique strain suffering during pregame batting practice.

Johnson appeared in four GCL games, pitching four innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits -including a homer – with a walk and a five strikeouts. All three of those runs came in one outing, giving him a 6.75 ERA over that stretch.

Johnson (right elbow inflammation) has been on the 60-day DL since May 28.

Os/ Blue Jays lineups and pregame tidbits

*Matt Wieters is on the DL for Josh Bell, but it’s only expected to be the minimum 15 day stay. Interim manager Juan Samuel said Wieters could have played Sunday or Monday but they didn’t want to push it.
*As expected, Craig Tatum will get the bulk of the catching duties with Jake Fox scheduled to back him up. The plan for now is Fox to catch Sunday’s game.
*Michael Gonzalez and Luke Scott are expected back within the next week. Gonzalez will pitch tonight at Triple-A Norfolk while Scott started his rehab for the Gulf Coast League on Thursday.
*Kevin Millwood threw a light side session with no pain yesterday and was planning on throwing a bullpen this afternoon. He told me he did a lot of resting (ie. no golf) and Samuel said he’s about a week away from returning.
*Down in Sarasota, Jim Johnson threw off flat ground on Monday and Wednesday and said in a text that the outings went “as well as can be expected”. He’s in no pain, and will throw again tomorrow afternoon. Johnson hopes to get up on the mound next week. Lou Montanez is still rehabbing his oblique and has not started to get in rehab games. He estimates he’s about a week away from that.
*Brian Roberts has been rehabbing with the GCL but will move to Double-A Bowie next week. He could still hit that Aug. 1 deadline he mentioned, but Samuel didn’t want to be confined to that. 

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Corey Patterson DH
Miguel Tejada 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Craig Tatum C
Julio Lugo 2B
Cesar Izturis SS

Brad Bergesen RHP

BLUE JAYS LINEUP:
Fred Lewis LF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Vernon Wells CF
Adam Lind DH
Aaron Hill 2B
Lyle Overbay 1B
John Buck C
Edward Encarnacion 3B

J.C. Romero LHP

Johnson still dealing with discomfort

BOSTON–Orioles setup man Jim Johnson is still dealing with discomfort in his right elbow area and had to stop Saturday’s throwing session prematurely.

Johnson said he got back to about 120 feet at the team’s Minor League Complex in Sarasota, Fla. before he had to stop and get examined by one of the trainers.

“He said it looks more like it’s the same kind of thing I was dealing with a couple days ago,” said Johnson, who was diagnosed with a low-grade tear in his elbow in mid-May and was shut down for four days last week with discomfort.  

“It’s not nearly as bad [as it was],” Johnson said.  “So, we’re taking the positive out of it.”

He was also encouraged that the problem doesn’t seem to be the actual ligament, but the muscle around it, and will spent the next week to 10 days doing treatment and strengthening exercises.

“We are going to take a couple more days off this time and get it totally pain free before we go any further,” said Johnson, who remains optimistic that he can avoid ligament-replacing Tommy John surgery.

“What’s going on now isn’t with the ligament, so we aren’t looking at surgery, not right now. We are going to try to do as much as we can right now and rule out every possibility,” he said. I think we’re on the right track.”

Pitching with elbow discomfort since the second game this season, Johnson went 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA before the Orioles optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk. Johnson got his elbow examined after throwing one inning for the Tides on May 4.

Os/As lineups and pregame tidbits

*Jim Johnson (slight right elbow tear) has been shut down for 3-5 days.
*Felix Pie won’t join the team until Detroit, most likely.  The Orioles want him to play the field more and get some AB’s so he’s ready to go right when he’s activated and they don’t have to ease him in.
*Michael Gonzalez is having command issues and will throw for Double-A Bowie on Friday and Sunday. Gonzalez is farther behind Pie, and probably won’t rejoin the team until after the All-Star break. “It’s like Spring Training for him,” pitching coach Rick Kranitz said of Gonzalez.

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Corey Patterson LF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Scott Moore 2B
Cesar Izturis SS
Kevin Millwood RHP

ATHLETICS LINEUP:
Coco Crisp CF
Daric Barton 1B
Conor Jackson LF
Kurt Suzuki C
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Ryan Sweeney RF
Mark Ellis 2B
Gabe Gross DH
Chad Pennington SS
Ben Sheets RHP

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