Results tagged ‘ Kam Mickolio ’

Mickolio on the trade and having a fresh start

David Hernandez referenced Monday morning’s trade to Arizona being a “fresh start” and if there’s anyone who needs a fresh start it’s Kam Mickolio, the other part of the O’s deal with the Diamondbacks.

Mickolio has been traded once before -he was acquired in the Erik Bedard haul from Seattle– and said that this time it’s much different because it all happened so fast. He got a text from his agent on Monday morning and an hour and a half later it was done.

“It definitely moved a lot faster and smooth than the last one I was involved in,” Mickolio said. “It’s definitely a good move for both teams.”

Mickolio was bothered by injuries all season and although he acknowledged it’s never easy to leave an organization, he dubbed the prospect of moving to the National League West “gratifying and exciting”.

“This year was kind of a one nagging thing that just never went away,” Mickolio said of a season in which he appeared in just 33 games, three of which were for the Orioles.  “I was just trying to fight through it all year, but it got to the point where it wasn’t helping.

“The whole time it was kind of hindering me, [my] numbers were going down. And in years past, people think I’ve been injury prone. So to get out of this [organization] and move on to a new organization it does feel like a fresh start. And I’m excited.”

Checking on the Tides

With Craig Tatum expected to come back from a brief stint in Triple-A Norfolk for tonight’s game (taking Troy Patton’s spot), here are a few notes from Norfolk…

*Zach Britton made the start for Norfolk Sunday night and took the loss to drop to 1-2. Britton pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on eight hits –both career-high’s at Triple-A — with a walk and five strikeouts. He has now failed to complete five innings in four of his seven starts with the Tides.

I know a lot of people called for Britton to come up when the Orioles rotation was struggling, but his recent performance at Triple-A hardly warrants a promotion. The organization doesn’t feel like he’s ready right now, and don’t want to rush him up here just because there’s no one else. That’s part of the reason the O’s traded for Rick VandenHurk, who provides some starting pitching depth and could make an emergency start if needed.

Before this season, Britton had never pitched higher than Double-A, and while he still could be a September callup, he’s important enough to this organization that his development is still first and foremost.

*Nolan Reimold went 4-5 with a double, his 10th home run of the season, two RBIs and four runs scored in Sunday’s Tides’ loss. In his last 21 games, since July 18, Reimold is hitting .320 (24-75) with 13 RBIs, 15 walks and 17 runs scored.

*First baseman Michael Aubrey went 3-5 with three RBI and hit his 15th home run of the season.

*Kam Mickolio pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, walking one and striking out one for his second scoreless outing since returning from a nearly two-month stint on the disabled list.

*Chris Tillman will start for Norfolk tonight and try to get back on track. Tillman has allowed 15 earned runs over his last 13 innings –a three-start stretch — and hasn’t lasted longer than five innings over that span.  

Should Simon have been yanked? And what arm is on the way?

De facto closer Alfredo Simon was charged with his first blown save of the season in Saturday’s 8-2 loss, spurring a ton of booing from the Camden Yards crowd and calling into question whether manager Dave Trembley should have yanked Simon earlier.

Simon came on for the ninth and allowed his first runs of the season, surrendering a three-run homer to Austin Kearns as part of a four-run frame.  The Indians first run came via a one-out RBI single from Shin-Soo Choo, who scored Asdrubal Cabrera. Simon recorded the first out of the inning before Cabrera singled and Mark Grudzielanek walked.  Following Kearns’ homer, Simon was replaced by sidearmer Cla Meredith who yielded four runs.

Trembley was questioned by the media about Simon’s pitch selection (a splitter that hung) and his decision to leave in Simon. Here’s his response…

(on the splitter to Kearns being the smartest option)

“Publicly I would never say yes or no. I don’t think that’s the way to go, to come out publicly and give an answer one way or the other. I don’t think that’s the way to do it. That’s why I have a pitching coach and I’m the manager and we’ll talk to Simon about that.”

(on leaving in Simon after he gave up a one-out single and walk)

“For me right there, he’s the best guy for that situation, facing Kearns. He got himself in trouble, you get yourself out of it. I think you go power against power. It’s worked. He made a bad pitch.”

***With the Orioles decision to option back Rhyne Hughes to Norfolk, if the team makes a move within the organization you would think it would be to call up an arm. There’s no one hitting in the Minors to justify a trip to the big leagues, making Alberto Castillo or Kam Mickolio both options.

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.

Pregame Yanks/Orioles

Kam Mickolio said
he felt 100 percent normal following a 25-pitch bullpen session on Thursday
morning. He’s been slowed by a sore groin and yesterday was the first time he’s
been up on the mound in nearly a week. Mickolio will throw in an intrasquad
game -along with Brad Bergesen – on Easter
Sunday. The facility is closed to the media that day, but there will be plenty
of news on Orioles.com, given that the team must announce their 25-man roster.

In speaking to Mickolio, you get the sense that he’s figured
out he won’t be on the team’s Opening Day roster. He didn’t throw all that
well, and this recent setback hasn’t made things any easier. Still, it’s a long
season and I don’t doubt he will be with Baltimore at some point.

Manager Dave Trembley
will give the Orioles an extra hour of sleep tomorrow and will address the
players around 10:30 a.m. ET to go over the schedule these next few weeks. 

He also elaborated a little bit more about the Julio Lugo situation, saying he would
use Lugo to add some middle infield depth and right now, he didn’t see him
playing anywhere but second and shortstop. Trembley acknowledged there will be
times he will have to tell -not ask — Brian
Roberts
to take a day off. Roberts played three straights days this past
week, but according to Trembley, he was pretty wiped after that. Considering
how quickly he’s progressed and how badly Roberts wants to get back to full
speed, I’m not surprised it will be a battle to keep Roberts out of the lineup,
even if it’s only for a day here and there.

Koji says DL, new 'pen plans

SARASOTA, Fla. — With no real timetable of when he will get
back on the mound, Orioles reliever Koji Uehara said Monday that he expects to
start the season on the disabled list.

 “If it happens,
there’s nothing I can do about it,” Koji said through interpreter Jiwon Bang. “Obviously
we don’t have many days before [April 6's] Opening Day, so you kind of expect
it.”

Uehara exit March 18’s game 
against the Toronto Blue Jays with a left hamstring strain and hasn’t
thrown on the mound since suffering the injury. 
Prior to Monday’s game, manager Dave Trembley said Koji would have to be
able to show he can throw by mid-week to avoid the DL.

Koji ‘s progression has been slow and deliberate -mostly
just light catch and running – but he said starting the season on the DL
wouldn’t be too disappointing.

“The more important thing is to be ready physically,” he
said.

If Uehara starts the season on the disabled list, it would
open up an extra bullpen slot, perhaps for a guy like Jason Berken, who has
pitched predominantly out of the ‘pen. Berken tossed four scoreless innings in
relief of Chris Tillman in his most recent outing Friday, and could give the
Orioles a second long-inning man to go along with Mark Hendrickson.

Right now, I’d say Berken is on the team’s Opening Day roster, with Cla Meredith, Matt Albers and Will Ohman to round it out. Kam Mickolio is another option, but the big right-hander has been sidelined the last few days with a sore groin and Trembley acknowledged he hasn’t pitched up to expectations. 

Albers is out of options –and pitching better — so the logical thing to do is keep him and have Mickolio get some more work in Triple-A. 

“I think he’s had a very good opportunity to show what he can do,” Trembley said of Mickolio. “Whether it’s been the best he can do, I’m not so sure. I think it’s been
kind of an up-and-down for him. I don’t mean to be very critical, but I
think he’s capable of doing better more consistently. I think he’s
shown glimpses of it. Other times he’s pitched in too many three-ball
counts. I don’t know if his leg has been bothering him for a while and
this has been a reason. There’s an awful lot in there. We just need to
get it out on a more consistent basis.”

In 9 1/3 spring innings, Mickolio has allowed two earned runs on seven hits. He’s struggled with his command, issuing seven walks (against 10 strikeouts) and told me today he will try to get back on the mound Tuesday to test his groin.

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
Gonzalez
, 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
Mickolio
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.”

Markakis: O's team best so far.

trembley with fans.jpg

A cleanly shaven Nick Markakis arrived to today’s workout, and was extremely impressive during positional players batting practice. Taking swings with Adam Jones and Felix Pie, Markakis routinely sent ball after ball flying out of the practice field.

Turns out, it was the first time he’s taken batting practice since the season ended.

“He was swinging effortlessly and hitting them into the trees out there,” marveled manager Dave Trembley. “And you wonder how the heck did he do that the first day? Special talent.”

When he was asked whether this was the best Orioles team on paper that he’s been a part of in his five seasons, Markakis agreed.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “The way our young guys have developed last year, you can’t ask for any more than what they did.”

As for his preference to bat second or third in the lineup:

“I don’t really see much difference between the two and three hole besides more opportunity to drive runners in,” Markakis said. “When I’m in the two hole I’m going to have B-Rob [Brian Roberts] hitting in front of me, you know? I got one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, so it doesn’t matter to me regardless.”

Markakis has a .328 lifetime average in the No. 2 hole (586 at-bats), but throughout his career he has predominantly been a No. 3 hitter, averaging .286 over 1354 at-bats.

Trembley wouldn’t divulge his exact lineup plans, and to be honest, I’m not sure if he has one just yet. He will certainly use Spring Training to tinker with the lineup.

“We’re going to have somebody that’s going to hit in front of him and we’re going to hit behind him,” Trembley said of Markakis. “And I think it’s going to make Nick a lot more relaxed. I think he’s going to have a big year.”

Trembley elaborated on yesterday’s comments concerning Kam Mickolio, noting that he’s 12 lbs lighter and saying “he couldn’t run like that last year in Spring Training.”

“I think for what he could bring to us, I would be very, very, very surprised if he doesn’t do what we think he can do,” Trembley said. “I think he can be a guy, but he’s got to show it. We got to see it in the games…I just see a guy with a mindset this spring where I think he knows what’s on the table for him.”

It sounds like Mickolio has a spot in the bullpen so long as he performs well during the Spring Training games. With Mike Gonzalez as the closer, Jim Johnson as setup man, Mark Hendrickson to handle middle relief, and Koji Uehara to serve a myriad of roles, Mickolio seems to be close to a lock for one of the remaining bullpen spots.

Also, if Will Ohman can keep throwing like he did today, he could fill the Orioles’ need for a lefty specialist. During Ohman’s bullpen today, pitching coach Rick Kranitz had to approach him a few times to slow him down.

“He’s going to be a max effort guy and he wants to do very well and make a very good impression, so we are going to have to pull the reins in on him somewhat,” Trembley said. But if he can throw the slider and match up against left-handed hitters and get outs he will be very valuable for us.”
 

Day 2: Millwood's presence, several pitchers impressive

With physicals out of the way, the Orioles got out and on the field on time today. As usual, Millwood was one of the first ones out and ready to go. I spoke with him yesterday for the first time and he struck me as a little quiet, but a nice guy. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said he’s been really impressed by the veteran’s work habits, a fact that really sets the tone for the young guys who are in their first few camps.

“The results aren’t always words as they are his actions,” Kranitz said about Millwood. “He’s always the first one doing something. Always. Whether it be the first one in the clubhouse or the first one doing drills. Let the young guys see that and follow.”

As I mentioned in my feature story that will be up on the site later, Millwood’s locker is in between Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman, with Brad Bergesen on the other side of Tillman. That’s not an accident, as Dave Trembley and Kranitz have made it pretty clear what’s expected of Millwood. And Millwood, who did the same sort of thing last year in Texas, has accepted that role, he’s been chatting with Bergesen and the younger guys and he threw his first bullpen to Wieters yesterday.

Millwood on his initial impressions of the clubhouse.

“A lot younger than me. But, a lot of good guys and seems like there’s a lot of talent here. So it’s pretty exciting to be a part of maybe helping mold these guys a little bit and help them all on their way.”

Trembley said Millwood’s presence will help take the pressure off the younger pitchers and allow them to “be themselves.”

“They don’t have to try to be something other than what they are,” Trembley said. “I think that’s the biggest tendency that happens with players at the big league level. They think more is better and they put their foot to the pedal.”

*Trembley had rave reviews for some of the guys who threw today, including Kam Mickolio, who he believes will eventually be a back of the bullpen guy. But not this year obviously, with Mike Gonzalez occupying the closer spot. When I talked to Trembley on Tuesday, he had mentioned Mickolio as one of the guys he was really excited to see. When I told Kam that he seemed pretty pleased.

“It means a lot when another coach, especially the head coach or the manager says they are excited to see you throw,” he said. “It’s always a good feeling they got a close eye on you.”

Mickolio has been down in Sarasota throwing for over two weeks, and said on Tuesday he had thrown about 10 bulllpens. So today’s session would make 11.

*Koji Uehara was another guy who impressed, with Kranitz raving about the late movement on the right-hander’s ball.

“I was real pleased,” said Kranitz. “It was night and day from today to when he threw in Boston back in September.”

*Other notables mentioned in today’s workout were Jake Arrieta and Alfredo Simon, who is less than a year removed from Tommy John’s surgery.

“[It's] to his credit,” Trembley said of Simon. “He must have worked real hard to get to where he’s at.”

*Adam Jones, Felix Pie, Justin Turner and Blake Davis were a few of the position players who have been working out and taking batting practice before the full squad workouts start Feb. 23. 

—Jones wanted everyone to know if you are following him on Twitter, make sure to say what’s up. But don’t make me jealous and give me a follow too.

Nick Markakis.jpg 
  
If you’re curious, the above photo is a back shot of Nick Markakis, who was barely recognizable with a full length beard and the noted, umm, interesting attire. He brought his son to watch some of the workout.
 

 

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.

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