Results tagged ‘ Michael Gonzalez ’

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!

Patton here too, Jones in lineup, Gonzo out etc

*Lefty Troy Patton was told late last night that he would be coming to join the Orioles in New York. So with his car packed to go home, he drove to Baltimore and then flew here.

He will join David Hernandez and Pedro Viola in a crowded bullpen, and is expected to be used in long relief. Patton has been called up twice before but not used. Here’s hoping he’s get a chance this time.

*Also, Adam Jones is back in the lineup tonight and feeling good.

*The Orioles might start to alter their six-man rotation after this weekend’s set in Detroit, but for now it will go as scheduled.

*Michael Gonzalez is dealing with some back tightness and wasn’t available yesterday. He pitched back-to-back outings Saturday and Sunday and would only be used in an emergency situation today. 

Gonzo debuts, sort of

BALTIMORE–Michael Gonzalez made his first appearance Thursday night against the Twins since suffering the blown save in April 9′s home opener against Toronto.

Gonzalez, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list prior to Wednesday’s game, came on following starter Kevin Millwood with one out in the seventh inning and gave up a single to Denard Span and got Orlando Hudson to fly out for the second out. He intentionally walked the dangerous Joe Mauer to retire Jason Kubel and end a wild inning that saw Orioles first baseman Ty Wigginton, pitching coach Rick Kranitz and interim manager Juan Samuel get ejected.

Gonzalez showcased a fastball that topped out at 93 mph and a motion that appeared to be more fluid than his traditional herky-jerky approach. He threw seven of his 16 pitches for strikes, lowering his ERA to 13.50 in the process, and exited with the score still 5-0 in Minnesota’s favor.  

Gonzo on his 100 ERA, being booed and why this was worse than Tommy John

Full story to come soon on Orioles.com, but here is some highlights of my interview with Michael Gonzalez, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list today….

Closer Michael Gonzalez knows he has a lot to prove to an Orioles organization that signed him to a two-year, $12-million deal this offseason, a fan base that booed him following two blown saves in three outings, and those who may be skeptical about whether he is fully healthy and ready to go.

But, first and foremost, Gonzalez -activated from the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday– is focused on proving to his teammates that he is effective, and wining back a closers’ job that is no longer his. 

“It is what it is,” Gonzalez said of interim manager Juan Samuel’s decision to ease him back and use Alfredo Simon to close for the foreseeable future.  “Whatever. I’m just glad to be back in the big leagues, I think once I show them that I’m healthy everything is going to even out.”

Gonzalez said these three months were the most trying of his career, even more so than when he had season-ending Tommy John in ’07.

“It’s how I left it [in Baltimore]. I left it with like a 100 ERA and not good at all. Not effective, definitely not what they were looking for as a team. Just for myself, for my own psyche it’s something that I’m used to going the next day and fixing.”

On being booed at the Orioles home opener…

“I’m just [glad] to be part of the team more than anything, because I know when I’m healthy what I’m capable of doing.It was hard to go out there [hurt]. Obviously you never want to get booed [at home]. But it is what it is. And I’m back here ready to do the job.”

On how he feels now…

“Stuff wise it felt a lot better [at Triple-A]. Obviously I have to work on a couple things, command issues were a lot better than when I thought they would be, velocity was good, breaking pitches had more bite than I thought they would be. I got to be on the up with this, go out there and stay with what I was going with the last couple of weeks.”

On the O’s bullpen in his absence..

“They’ve been doing a great job, but I’m not going to lie to you I haven’t been watching too many games. Obviously it frustrates me, it doesn’t get me in a good mood. Just wanting to be there so bad, it’s been three months since I’ve actually been there in a big league uniform. It’s been tough mentally, more mentally than physically. The physical part was easy, it been frustrating just being anxious and all that together just trying to hold that down a little bit.”
 
 

Gonzalez coming and what that means for Simon

Looks like Michael Gonzalez completed his rehab assignment. I’m told he cleaned out his locker and his nameplate is gone in Norfolk. Gonzalez tossed a scoreless inning to open last night’s Tides game after a rain-delay pushed back the start.

Gonzalez will be activated in the next day or so –when exactly is up for debate and officially depends on when he actually arrives in Baltimore. I imagine he’d be rested and ready to pitch immediately. The O’s could use him tomorrow to fill the extra roster spot vacated by Tillman, and option back rookie Josh Bell on Thursday if need be. Lots of scenarios with the roster, and it’s important to note that Gonzo will need to be added back on the team’s 40-man roster. An easy move would be to transfer Jim Johnson to the 60 day DL.

Gonzalez has been on the 60-day DL with a left shoulder strain that by all indication was an injury he had this spring. He will not take the closing job from Alfredo Simon right away, a fact interim manager Juan Samuel confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.

Gonzalez’s velocity was in the 91-93 mph last night so that’s not an issue. But his command is something the organization wants to see get better. He will be put in “less-pressurized situations” (read: 6th or 7th inning type of stuff) until he proves he can be effective.

Orioles roster mania

BALTIMORE– The expected flurry of Orioles roster moves this week continued on Tuesday, with the news that right-hander Chris Tillman had been taken out of the rotation and optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk for the second time this season.

Interim Orioles manager Juan Samuel also confirmed that veteran Kevin Millwood will be activated from the 15-day disabled list (right forearm strain) and start Thursday’s game with the rest of the O’s rotation sliding back a day.

Baltimore is expecting to activate closer Michael Gonzalez -either following Wednesday’s game or early on Thursday – and the O’s could also add another arm prior to Wednesday’s game to take the spot vacated by Tillman. Matt Wieters (strained right hamstring) is expected to slide right into the lineup on Sunday, and Brian Roberts, who started a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Monday, could also be activated in the next few days, although the team is leaning toward having Roberts wait. Rookie infielder Josh Bell is expected to be a roster casualty and the team will have to make a few more to clear space.

Although the Orioles roster is in upheaval, president of baseball operations MacPhail said there is “nothing that would indicate” a trade in the next several days, to help free up some space. Beyond that, the Orioles are always discussing possibilities around this time of the year, particularly with veterans like Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada.

“We’re still trying to make the decision which way we’re going to go, whether it’s going to be a pitcher or a position player when all these guys come back,” Samuel said of the roster juggling. “I think Andy has got his hands full trying to figure out which way we’re going to go.”

With Roberts, he could possibly begin next week’s road series with the Orioles, but given his injury, a herniated disc in his lower back, Roberts would have to be used sparingly on Toronto’s artificial turf.

While MacPhail acknowledged that “Brian’s rather keen on getting it going,” the organization will reevaluate him on Thursday, when he takes a day off of rehab. Having Roberts play at the Rogers Centre surface -which is similar to the three straight games he started in Tampa Bay prior to reinjuring himself on the Orioles home opener – is hardly ideal and it could push him back another series.

“For me, the ideal place for [Roberts] is Kansas City,” Samuel said. “We have to be smart. We do not want to see him have a major setback. I’m sure he’s going to push his way into playing in Toronto, so we have to be smart with this.”

The Orioles also had to weigh the possibilities concerning sending Tillman back to Norfolk, in what is becoming a yo-yo year for the young righty. With Samuel and MacPhail both against a six-man rotation, Tillman -who allowed eight runs on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings in Monday’s loss – proved to be the odd man. The 22-year-old has struggled to find consistency at the Major League level -nearly pitching a no-hitter in his previous start at Texas-but given that he wasn’t going to throw again for five days, it was an easy choice to make room in the rotation. 

Millwood has been on the disabled list since July 6 with a strained right forearm and has seen a strong-first half collapse into a 10.20 ERA over his previous seven starts. Samuel said he was confident Millwood could return to his early-season form, and Millwood has attested since the All-Star break that his arm has felt much better.
 
The Orioles are equally optimistic about Gonzalez, who was placed on the 60-day DL (left shoulder strain) and used his full rehab assignment, which expires on Wednesday.

While Gonzalez has struggled in the Minor Leagues, Samuel thinks his concentration and focus will help improve his location -and results -when he rejoins the O’s.  Signed to a two-year deal this offseason to close games, Gonzalez appeared in just three games -including two blown saves – before landing on the DL and will be eased back into the later innings.

Os/Blue Jays lineups and pregame tidbits

*Brian Roberts will join Double-A Bowie on Monday and could rejoin the Orioles on this current homestand. He is believed to be about a week to 10 days away, according to interim manager Juan Samuel.

*Luke Scott is expected to drive to Baltimore after playing in Sunday’s Gulf Coast League game and will likely rejoin Roberts on rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie.

*Michael Gonzalez allowed a pair of runs on three hits and a walk over 2/3 inning at Triple-A Norfolk last night and is scheduled to pitch again on Sunday. His rehab assignment ends on Wednesday and the Orioles will have to decide what to do with him. The obvious answer would be to activate him but Samuel was noncommittal on that, saying the organization would have to make up its mind on what to do.

ORIOLES LINEUP:
Corey Patteron 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
Jeremy Guthrie 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
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Jose Molina C

Brandon Morrow RHP

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

Orioles-Tigers lineup

*Felix Pie is expected to arrive tonight and if all goes as planned Frank Mata will be optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk. It could be Josh Bell, but if Kevin Millwood goes the distance the Orioles could get by with one less arm.
*Josh Bell is available. He was dealing with right leg cramps but said it’s not a big deal. He has had knee surgery previously, but that was on the left side. Interim manager Juan Samuel said Bell is available to pinch hit or play the field if necessary.
*Michael Gonzalez won’t return until after the All-Star Break. Gonzalez is scheduled to make three more rehab appearances this week, starting with Tuesday, and then will go back-to-back Friday and Saturday. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz speculated last week that Gonzo might be after the break, and now it looks like that’s a more definite timetable.
*It’s hot, which we know is a problem for Koji.But Samuel said he is available and since he didn’t throw at all during the Boston series, you’d imagine the O’s will use him in one of these first two games.

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

TIGERS LINEUP:

Austin Jackson CF
Johnny Damon DH
Magglio Ordonez RF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Brennan Boesch LF
Carlos Guillen 2B
Brandon Inge 3B
Alex Avila C
Ramon Santiago SS
Andy Oliver LHP

Gonzalez could be post All-Star break

BALTIMORE–While initially targeting an early July return, Orioles closer Michael Gonzalez won’t be activated for this weekend’s series in Boston and could be facing a post All-Star break return.

Gonzalez arrived in Bowie, Md. on Wednesday and will start a rehab assignment for the O’s Double-A affiliate on Friday.  He is scheduled to pitch Friday, Sunday and Tuesday for the Baysox which means the earliest he could rejoin the O’s would be for the last leg of a 10-game road trip in Texas.

However, Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz didn’t rule out the possibility that Gonzalez wouldn’t be ready until the All-Star break, and called the lefty’s rehab program “his Spring Training.”

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail acknowledged on Wednesday that Gonzalez is farther behind than outfielder Felix Pie, who will likely rejoin the team for Monday’s series in Detroit.

Gonzalez appeared in two games for short-season Aberdeen this week, allowing two earned runs on five hits over 2 1/3 innings, and was clocked in the 90-91 mph range. While his velocity raised concerns in the initial stages of his rehab -when he was clocked in the mid 80s – Gonzalez’s location is what has kept his hindered his recent progress.

“His command was not where we want it to be,” interim manager Juan Samuel said of Gonzalez’s outing on Tuesday night. “His breaking ball is not where we think it should be. We’re going to continue to monitor his progress.”

Gonzalez (left shoulder strain) was placed on the 15-day disabled list -later transferred to the 60-day DL – on April 10. He appeared in three games for the Orioles, pitching to a 18.00 ERA with two blown saves.

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