Results tagged ‘ Jim Johnson ’

Possible replacements for Gonzalez

Kam MickolioWith Mike Gonzalez officially on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to April 10), the Orioles will likely recall one of their final Spring Training cuts, Kam Mickolio, to fill the roster spot.

Mickolio was slowed the final week of Spring Training by a sore groin and was shipped out to Triple-A Norfolk in hopes that he would get healthy and get stretched out to go more than one inning.

Mickolio was praised this spring by manager Dave Trembley for his offseason regimen and early bullpen sessions, even going as far as to say a spot in the ‘pen was the tall, powerful right-hander’s to lose. But Mickolio’s success didn’t translate nearly as well into Grapefruit League games. He allowed two earned runs in 9 1/3 innings stretched over eight appearances, with his walk-to-strikeout ratio (7-10) a glaring statistic.

“I’m disappointed,” Mickolio said when he was sent down. “I’m mad at myself, mostly.
“[I’m mad] for all the hard work I put in this offseason, and the groin injury the last week of camp put me down.”

Now could be his chance to step up for an O’s bullpen in bad shape. Gonzalez was 0-2 with two blown saves and an 18.00 ERA in three games and never quite looked right this spring.  
Jim Johnson is currently Gonzalez’s understudy, so he’s the first guy to target, but no one in the Baltimore bullpen really projects as a closer. Johnson has allowed runs in two of his four appearances, as has sidearmer Cla Meredith. Koji Uehara could find himself in the mix for saves but he’s been on the DL (strained left hamstring) and has only just begun throwing bullpens.

Mickolio is a hard-throwing right-hander who projects to be a future closer. Listed at 6-foot-9, 255 pounds, he’s also a pretty imposing guy on the mound. The problem for him – like many big pitchers – is repeating his delivery, which in turn keeps his control in check. In three innings at Triple-A so far this season, Mickolio has walked four batters, allowed four hits and struck out five.

If the Orioles don’t call up Mickolio, there’s a chance Alberto Castillo gets the call. When asked if Johnson would assume the closer role, Trembley told reporters he would consider it.  Read: all other options are welcome.

Lost in the shuffle…

“The game is ruined,” manager Dave Trembley said, “Because we
don’t close it out.”

Erased was the performance of Miguel Tejada, who went 3-for-5
with a homer and four RBIs, in his first appearance back in Baltimore since
being traded away in December of 2007. Wasted was the 2 1/3 scoreless innings
thrown by Mark Hendrickson and the job setup man Jim Johnson did to keep the
score tied.  Gone, too, was the effort by
pinch-runner Felix Pie, who legged out a Cesar Izturis’ center field single,
scoring all the way from first base to give the Orioles a one-run edge heading
into the ninth inning.  

Let’s also take a second and recognize the offense coming out of the No. 8 hole. Garrett Atkins went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .375 through the team’s first four games. He doubled in his first three games, becoming the first player in Orioles history to accomplish that feat upon coming to Baltimore. 

Oh, and let’s not forget the performance to start the season by Matt Wieters. Not that you could.

Game 3: Orioles-Rays

A few tidbits for Game 3 as the Orioles try to avoid the sweep
with Brian Matusz on the hill

*Jim Johnson played
catch and said he’s good to go if needed out of the bullpen tonight. He had
some tightness in his right shoulder that came when he threw the first pitch to
Carlos Pena in the eighth inning on Tuesday night. Apparently, a lot of ice and
some anti-inflammatory medication did the trick.

*Manager Dave Trembley said he talked to Brian Roberts to make sure his back was OK before playing him for
the third straight game on the turf. Roberts will also play tomorrow’s opener
in Baltimore. Roberts said he’s not concerned by his hitless first two games, saying if it was mid-June it’d be more cause for concern. He told me he’s having good at-bats and while he didn’t feel the best at the plate on Tuesday, he was seeing the ball much better on Wednesday night.

*Julio Lugo makes his
Orioles debut tonight at shortstop.

*Felix Pie said he is available as a pinch runner tonight, but won’t try to test his left shoulder by throwing until tomorrow. Trembley wasn’t sure whether Pie would get the start in Friday’s home opener or not.

*No update on the status of Koji
, but all signs point to him not being ready the first day he’s
eligible off the disabled list, which is April 11.

*I spent a few minutes talking to Mike Gonzalez who has been dying to get the ball back and redeem himself for  Tuesday’s blown save/loss. Let’s see if he gets the chance tonight.

*Rays pitcher James Shields welcomed a baby girl, his second daughter, yesterday. He was all smiles today. What an opening week for him.



Brian Roberts 2B
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Luke Scott LF
Matt Wieters C
Nolan Reimold DH
Garrett Atkins 1B
Julio Lugo SS

Brian Matusz LHP


Jason Bartlett SS
Carl Crawford LF
Ben Zobrist 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
B.J Upton CF
Pat Burrell DH
Gape Kapler RF

Kelly Shoppach C

Jeff Niemann RHP

Matusz looks to avoid sweep


After last night’s second straight game
that got away
(I wonder, will this be a telling part of the O’s improvement
? Narrowly losing games?) Brian Matusz takes the hill.

It should be an interesting game as the Orioles were without
Felix Pie
and the use
of Jim Johnson
last night. Will that be the case again today, as the O’s
try to avoid a season-opening sweep?

The game preview is here,
but I’ve got some extra quotes from Matusz that didn’t make it in the piece.
Here they are, for your enjoyment: How has
your solid spring helped you going into Friday’s start?

Matusz: In spring
I was able to work on a lot of different things, to get all my pitchers
working, and use them all a lot in different games. For me its all about getting in a good groove, my
last few starts of spring I was in that groove.  It’s
all about finding that
consistent windup, that good consistent windup. 
I get in the
groove, I just roll with it, I keep it going. Right now I feel like I’
m in

My last bullpen
session the other day was really good, I was throwing everything just right
where I wanted, and [Friday I’m] just going to continue following that groove
and stay
with it. It‘s going
to be tough with the nerves, I’m going to be really nervous and anxious tomorrow,
but for me it’s just a matter of relaxing and treating it like any other game.
[Wieters] and I are on the same page, we‘ve
been talking a lot th
e last few days. So, I‘m excited to get things going.

*When I asked Matusz
to evaluate how he’s grown this past year, he said it’s not so much that he got
better physically, but mentally. While his four quality pitches have always been
there, Matusz noted how important it was last year to get a taste of the big
leagues and what it’s all about.

*It always
impresses me how much information Matusz has readily available. When I asked
him about facing the Rays -one of the few teams he has pitched against before –
he talked about his start at Tropicana Field yesterday with such detail you’d
think it had happened yesterday.  He said
facing Tampa Bay’s hitters before has obviouisly helped with familiarity, and
he still remember the four runs he gave up to the Rays in last season’s win.

“I thought I
pitched well besides that three-run homer to [Ben] Zobrist,” Matusz said. He
allowed four runs total in 5 1/3 innings in that start. He will be opposed by
Rays right-hander Jeff Niemann.

Meredith & the BP battle

Cla Meredith has
quietly been putting together a great spring, as the right-hander hasn’t
allowed a hit in five scoreless innings of relief. Meredith has appeared in six
games and is one of the candidates for a right-handed relief role in the
Orioles bullpen.

“There’s some dogfights going on down there in the bullpen,” manager Dave
Trembley said. “They know it and they’re pitching like they know it.”

Meredith tossed a scoreless again on Wednesday and, along
with Matt Albers, should be considered as a front-runner to make the O’s ‘pen.
Albers hasn’t yielded a run in 6 1/3 innings spread over five games.

With closer Mike
, setup man Jim Johnson,
Koji Uehara
and Mark Hendrickson
locks to make the team the three remaining spots will likely be a situational
lefty and two right-handed relief roles. Kam
figures to be in the mix for one of those, with Trembley raving
earlier in the spring about a spot in the pen being Mickolio’s to lose.

However, he hasn’t been overly impressive this spring, allowing
two runs in six innings over five games. He’s given up five hits and walked
four with four strikeouts. Three of those walks came in Wednesday’s game as
Mickolio labored in some long counts, yielding a run over two innings.

“Mickolio had good stuff but ran his pitch count up, ” Trembley
said. “I would have liked to see him put hitters away a little earlier.”

Gonzalez, Pie Updates

Mike Gonzalez,
who has been slowed by some lower back tightness, played catch today for about
15 minutes with setup man Jim Johnson.
They did some long toss  on one of the back fields at Ed Smith Stadium and Gonzalez even crouched down to give Johnson a
target at one point. He also ran sprints and appears to be moving well.

Gonzalez was optimistic about throwing in Wednesday’s game,
which would be his first game situation since being pulled early from Saturday’s
intrasquad game. Gonzalez faced just two batters before he exited with back

Felix Pie, who
hasn’t played in a game since Wednesday, threw the baseball today and also did
some running. He may have hit, but I didn’t get a chance to see that because I
was watching Kevin Millwood’s start.
He told me this morning he was going to throw and swing the bat, so I’ll
confirm that tomorrow.

Pie has a minor case of left shoulder tendinitis, an injury
that occurred mostly as a result of his weight room work.


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Question or comment?
Email me.  

Millwood continues to improve, Britton throws

More Intrasquad stuff

Orioles Intrasquad 008.jpg

That’s Chris Tillman warming up. He pitched the first inning for the orange team, struck out Robert Andino on four pitches and then allowed a double to Nick Markakis. Tillman said afterwards that he felt great, and that his back issue from earlier in camp, is a non issue.

“I’ve been 100 percent for the last two days,” Tillman said. “I was even allowed to lift today. I think that’s all in the rearview mirror, and we’re going forward from here.”

Tillman was opposed by Jake Arrieta, who was pleased to carry over some promising bullpen sessions out onto the mound. Arrieta threw only one breaking ball, to Miguel Tejada, and used the one-inning outing to keep the ball down in the zone.

[I’m] not too worried about being in and out right now, that will come later in Spring Training into the start of the season but really just working down at the knees, just trying to stay away from the letters,” Arrieta said. 

As for his breaking stuff and change-up, Arrieta said his goal this early in camp is just to make those pitches strikes.

“It’s hard to work on a lot of things in one inning of work,” he said. “What I really wanted to get comfortable with was my fastball with and I made some good pitches.”

Orioles Intrasquad 010.jpg

The above picture is Izturis warming up before the game.  Part of the orange team, Izzy started at shortstop with Tejada at third for the game’s first three innings.

The other notable pitcher in Monday’s game was Jim Johnson, who tossed a scoreless second inning. Johnson struck out Garrett Atkins on three pitches, and retired Lou Montanez on a pop-up to second.  Johnson said he used his offspeed more than he would during a regular game, throwing several to Justin Turner, who worked a walk.

Johnson didn’t allow a hit and threw seven of his 13 pitches for strikes.

“I was just trying to get a feel for things and get things progressing,” Johnson said. “It’s usually the last thing that come around in the spring is your feel. Your arm strength is usually the first to come and then you progress through your pitches.”

Given how early it is in Spring Training, Johnson said he “can’t complain” with how he’s throwing, so long as his arm feels good after Monday’s test.

“By throwing bullpens and stuff you really can’t gage because it’s not the same intensity of pitching in a game,” he said.  “So, [I’ll] see how the body reacts, I’m sure I’ll be fine. Everything feels good.”

Intrasquad game in pictures

Some of the notable early lines from the Orioles intrasquad game…

Chris Tillman- IP, H, K, 15 pitches total (11 K/4 BB)
Jake Arrieta- IP, H, 11 pitches total (6 K/5 BB)
Jim Johnson – IP B, K 13 pitches total (7 K/6 BB)

*Blake Davis had the game’s first RBI  in the top of the 2nd.

Orioles Intrasquad 001.jpg

Orioles Intrasquad 002.jpg
Orioles Intrasquad 003.jpg
Orioles Intrasquad 004.jpg
Orioles Intrasquad 005.jpg
Orioles Intrasquad 011.jpg
Orioles Intrasquad 013.jpg
Orioles Intrasquad 014.jpg

It's On..

UPDATE 11:22 a.m.: The media spoke with Felix Pie earlier, who said says he is healthy and free of pain from the strained left quadriceps that ended his season in September of last year. Pie said it took the full 5 1/2 months but now he’s confident and ready to go.

Pitchers and catchers have their first workout today, but after a brief walk around the clubhouse the media was ushered out for player physicals.

Meanwhile, in between hanging out at the field and unpacking stuff at my condo, I’ve been trying to see the city of Sarasota.  Thank you to those recommending places to eat and check out in the area;some of the reporters went to Gus’ Diner across the street from the stadium for lunch yesterday and it was a cheap, and satisfying meal. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome meal we had last night at Mediterraneo on Main Street. Robert Messick, chair of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, was extremely hospitable to the Orioles front office and press, even printing out a list of the top places to eat.  And the owner of Mediterraneo is a lifelong Orioles fan, with a Baltimore cap hanging proudly behind the bar.

And if you need any other reasons to go, it was easily the best Italian meal of my life. And I grew up in pizza-mecca New Haven, Conn. and consider myself a bit biased in terms of Italian food.

I did get a chance to catch up briefly with Kam Mickolio yesterday, who is competing for one of the final three spots in the bullpen. The right-hander was shut down last year after he was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder. Mickolio has been down in Sarasota for about two weeks and said he threw around 10 bullpens already, all of which have gone well. He could factor in to the one of the remaining three spots in the bullpen.

If I had to guess, I’d say he makes the team as of right now. Even if the team opts to add a lefty specialist such as Ohman to the mix, that still leaves two spots after Mike Gonzalez, Jim Johnson, Mark Hendrickson and Koji Uehara. And Cla Meredith and Matt Albers will fight over the last right-handed spot. Keep in mind Albers is out of options, which means he would have to pass through waivers before going to Triple-A if he doesn’t make the team out of camp.