Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

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Orioles “encouraged” by Gallardo’s progress with shoulder

Posted on 18 May 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With the Orioles about to embark on their longest road trip of the season so far, Yovani Gallardo will take another important step in his recovery from right shoulder tendinitis in Anaheim.

The veteran starting pitcher has responded well since beginning a throwing program over the weekend and is scheduled to complete his first bullpen session on Sunday. If that goes well, he’ll have another bullpen session on Tuesday with the plan of pitching a simulated game on May 27.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said it’s possible that Gallardo would then be ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment and probably wouldn’t need more than one or two rehab starts before potentially being activated.

“They’re all parts of the process,” Showalter said. “His arm swing and the backspin on the ball, he’s doing some things he couldn’t do before. I’m encouraged about this if we can stay on this schedule.”

The 30-year-old has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 23 after experiencing right shoulder discomfort in Kansas City a night earlier. It was the first time in his major league career that Gallardo was sent to the DL for an arm injury.

In his four starts covering 18 innings at the beginning of the season, Gallardo posted a 7.00 ERA with nine strikeouts and seven walks and was averaging a career-low 88.3 miles per hour on his fastball, down 2.2 mph from his 2015 average. He signed a two-year, $22 million contract in late February after the initial three-year, $35 million agreement was restructured due to the organization’s concerns about the health of his shoulder when he took his physical.

Showalter also said that pitching prospect Hunter Harvey will begin a throwing program on May 24 as he continues to recover from sports hernia surgery.

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“Rounding the Bases” in Orioles’ 10-0 loss to Mariners

Posted on 17 May 2016 by Luke Jones

What went wrong in the Orioles’ 10-0 defeat to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night?

In trying to identify the top three losing factors with the addition of home plate for any not-so-honorable mentions and other notes, we go around the bases after the 37th game of the 2016 season.

1st — It didn’t take much for Tuesday’s game to get out of hand, but a pair of 0-2 counts handled poorly by Orioles pitching in the fifth inning turned a close game into a blowout. Ubaldo Jimenez had given up a one-out single to Nori Aoki and was ahead 0-2 on Seth Smith before eventually walking him to put two men on for the heart of the Seattle order. This spelled trouble as Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz registered back-to-back RBI singles to extend the lead from 2-0 to 4-0. Brian Matusz then entered and quickly got ahead 0-2 on Kyle Seager before throwing a 90 mph fastball right down the middle that was clubbed for a three-run home run to make it 7-0 in the fifth. It was elementary after that.

2nd — It may not have mattered that much with the pitching struggles, but the Orioles bats failing to register a pulse put little pressure on Wade Miley, who entered the night with a 4.91 ERA and had given up eight homers in his first seven starts. In the first, the Orioles walked twice and made the Seattle lefty throw 30 pitches, but they didn’t seriously challenge him again until it was 10-0 in the bottom of the sixth. Baltimore was shut out for the third time all season and registered a season-low two hits in the lopsided defeat.

3rd — He was able to limit the damage to two runs in the first, but a 34-pitch opening frame from Jimenez set a bad tone coming off Sunday’s late-inning stumble. Their seven-game winning streak was bound to end, but the Orioles had to wait around 48 hours to get back on the diamond and their starter put them in a hole before they even stepped to the plate for the first time. Jimenez settled in for the second, third, and fourth, but the damage was done at the beginning and end of his outing as his ERA has ballooned to 5.60 after giving up six runs in 4 1/3 innings, his shortest start of the season.

Home — Entering the game to face a lineup featuring seven of nine hitters swinging from the left side, Matusz retired only two of the seven left-handed bats he faced as Seager’s three-run shot and Cano’s RBI double to left-center an inning later were particularly crippling. In 2016, left-handed hitters have gone 5-for-11 with a home run and five walks against the Orioles’ lefty specialist, who is sporting a 12.00 ERA in seven appearances since being activated from the disabled list on April 23. … Cruz went 3-for-3 with a home run, a walk, and five RBIs against his former club and has now hit safely in his last 13 games at Camden Yards, a streak dating back to Sept. 12, 2014. … Vance Worley pitched three scoreless innings and has now registered seven straight scoreless relief outings covering 13 innings this season. … Chris Davis recorded the only extra-base hit of the night for the Orioles with a double in the sixth inning. … Former Oriole and St. Paul’s grad Steve Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth for Seattle. … Chris Tillman goes to the hill trying to snap the Orioles’ two-game skid on Wednesday night while the Mariners will start right-hander Taijuan Walker.

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Orioles designated hitter Paredes claimed off waivers by Toronto

Posted on 16 May 2016 by Luke Jones

After deciding they wouldn’t make room for Jimmy Paredes on their 25-man roster, the Orioles lost the designated hitter to the Toronto Blue Jays off waivers on Monday.

Paredes’ minor-league rehab assignment concluded on Sunday, but the offseason additions of Pedro Alvarez and Mark Trumbo eliminated virtually all of the at-bats that were available to the 27-year-old last season as the club’s DH. After focusing on learning to play the outfield over the winter, Paredes injured his left wrist early in spring training and began the season on the 15-day disabled list.

His severe limitations in the field made him expendable as the Orioles are already carrying a few players on the roster not known for their defensive abilities. They hoped to be able to outright him to Triple-A Norfolk if he hadn’t been claimed by the Blue Jays.

The switch-hitting Paredes was arguably the story of the first half of 2015 as he hit .299 with 10 home runs, 39 RBIs, and an .807 on-base plus slugging percentage, but he struggled mightily after the All-Star break, hitting just .216 with an anemic .517 OPS. His playing time also diminished with just 107 plate appearances compared to 277 in the first half.

Monday marked the fourth time in Paredes’ career that he’s been claimed off waivers, a reflection of his intriguing tools but inability to produce consistently to this point in his career.

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Orioles sitting pretty six weeks into 2016 season

Posted on 16 May 2016 by Luke Jones

Six weeks down, 20 more to go.

Just a simple reminder that it’s still early in 2016 as the Orioles begin a new week holding the best record in the American League by percentage points. But how can you not be optimistic about a club that’s already put together two seven-game winning streaks after no previous run of victories lasting that long since 2005?

Even after Sunday’s disappointing 6-5 loss to Detroit to snap their latest winning streak, the 23-13 Orioles are off to their best start through 36 games in 11 years. It’s quite an improvement from the many preseason forecasts — including this writer’s — expecting Baltimore to be no better than fourth or fifth in the AL East.

We knew the Orioles would hit plenty of home runs — they entered Monday leading the majors in that category — and their bullpen sports the best ERA in all of baseball, but the starting pitching was the major question mark. Through Sunday, Baltimore ranked a respectable seventh in the AL in starter ERA (4.22).

Can the Orioles sustain the success? That’s the question we’ve uttered so many times over the last five seasons whenever Buck Showalter’s club is in the midst of exceeding outside expectations.

No one can predict the future as it relates to injuries or other unforeseen circumstances, but some of the factors their critics have used against the Orioles in past seasons aren’t looking so bad in 2016.

Remember how detractors harped on the 2012 Orioles’ run differential throughout their improbable run to the franchise’s first postseason appearance in 15 years?

Their plus-37 mark so far this season suggests being 10 games above .500 is hardly a fluke. Of course, all it takes is a couple lopsided defeats to throw that mark out of whack when we’re still so early in the schedule, but we are almost a quarter of the way through the marathon.

What about 2014 when Baltimore finished third in the AL with a 3.44 ERA but stat-heads pointed to a 3.96 fielding independent pitching (FIP) mark ranking 11th? So far this season, the Orioles sport the AL’s best FIP (3.63) while ranking fourth in ERA (3.53)

Their rotation FIP (3.88) is even better than the rotation ERA, primarily a reflection of Orioles starters allowing fewer home runs than any other AL club. Some regression is likely, but the rotation allowed the second-most homers in the league a year ago, reflecting how much improvement there’s been in that department so far.

Sporting a career-low ERA (2.58) and registering a career-high 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings, Chris Tillman has led the starter improvement and is so far providing the bounce-back season the club needed. We know the starting pitching will continue to be the hot topic as it relates to staying in games and preventing an exceptional bullpen from wearing out in the second half.

“The pitching’s been solid,” Showalter said. “That’s the thing that’s going to allow us to maintain the level we’re going to have to have to compete in our division. You’re going to have to take care of your own business every night and not expect any help from anybody. But the pitching has been as good as I could hope for it to be so far.”

Being solid is good enough for the starting pitching, but how great can the offense be?

Beyond hitting home runs, the Orioles entered Monday ranked third in the AL in runs, second in batting average, second in on-base percentage, and second in slugging percentage. Their 8.4 percent walk rate is markedly better than their 7.0 percent mark a year ago, reflecting more patience at the plate.

Manny Machado has looked every bit the part of the 2016 AL MVP after finishing fourth in the voting last year. It was fun wondering this winter if the 23-year-old could be even better than he was in 2015, but he’s been exactly that so far as one of the very best players in baseball.

Newcomer Mark Trumbo was initially viewed as an insurance policy for the potential free-agent departure of Chris Davis in the offseason, but he’s been the club’s second-best hitter while the likes of Davis and Adam Jones struggled through parts of the first six weeks. Expecting him to hit .300 would be unrealistic, but there’s no denying him having a Nelson Cruz-like impact on his new club so far.

Machado and Trumbo have led the way, but the Orioles have three other hitters — Davis, Jones, and Jonathan Schoop — sporting an OPS of at least .770 after recent surges. And that’s not even considering Matt Wieters and Pedro Alvarez, who are hitting well below their career numbers but are capable of being above-average offensive contributors at their respective positions.

Of course, none of this means the Orioles are a lock to win their second division title in three years and secure their third postseason berth in five seasons as we know there’s a very long way to go. Boston has sported the best offense in the league and lost no ground to the Orioles during the latter’s seven-game winning streak that ended on Sunday. Toronto has lagged behind the other two in third place, but the Blue Jays surprisingly sport the best starter ERA in the AL while they wait for their imposing lineup to heat up.

The Orioles aren’t going to run away with this division, but there’s plenty to like about them through the first six weeks, some expected and some of it not. And it’s been more than just smoke and mirrors.

Yes, Baltimore is sitting pretty.

Prettier than expected, which is really be nothing new for these Orioles by now.

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Ravens sign guard Vladimir Ducasse, quarterback Josh Johnson

Posted on 16 May 2016 by Luke Jones

Filling out their 90-man offseason roster after making several cuts last week, the Ravens signed guard Vladimir Ducasse and quarterback Josh Johnson on Monday.

Ducasse visited with Baltimore two months ago and started 11 games for the Chicago Bears last season. A 2010 second-round pick out of Massachusetts, the Haitian-born offensive lineman has played in 79 games (22 starts) with the New York Jets, Minnesota, and Chicago over six NFL seasons.

The 28-year-old is expected to compete with John Urschel, Ryan Jensen, and first-round pick Ronnie Stanley — if he’s not playing left tackle — for the starting left guard spot vacated by free-agent departure Kelechi Osemele. According to Pro Football Focus, the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Ducasse graded 47th among qualified guards in the NFL last season.

Johnson, 30, will provide the Ravens an extra quarterback for spring organized team activities and minicamp as starter Joe Flacco continues to rehab his surgically-repaired left knee. He will work with primary backup Ryan Mallett and former Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson with Flacco not expected to be back until training camp.

A former fifth-round pick of Tampa Bay in the 2008 draft, Johnson has made five career starts in the NFL but none since 2011, his final season with the Buccaneers. Since then, the 6-foot-3 quarterback has had stints with a plethora of teams including Cleveland, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Buffalo.

He has completed 54.2 percent of his passes for 1,042 yards, five touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, but Johnson hasn’t attempted a pass in a regular-season game since 2011.

The Ravens also signed defensive back Sam Brown, a rookie free agent from Missouri Western State.

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Orioles place Paredes on waivers as rehab assignment ends

Posted on 15 May 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With Jimmy Paredes’ rehab assignment concluding on Sunday, Buck Showalter only hinted about his status as the Orioles concluded a four-game set with Detroit.

Comcast SportsNet and multiple outlets reported that the switch hitter was placed on waivers after Showalter indicated that a decision had already been made regarding his status, but the Baltimore manager deferred to executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette for further details.

“I don’t think I’m supposed to divulge that, right?” Showalter said. “I mean everybody knows, but I’m not [telling]. I think that’d be a good question for Dan.

“Legally, you could wait until [Monday to make a decision]. Whether or not we did, I do know.”

Paredes, 27, began the season on the 15-day disabled list after spraining his left wrist early in spring training. Since beginning his minor-league rehab assignment last month, the switch hitter has batted .308 with two home runs, nine RBIs, and an .847 on-base plus slugging percentage in 73 plate appearances split among Single-A Frederick, Double-A Bowie, and Triple-A Norfolk.

Though he’s played both corner outfield spots and third base during his rehab stint, Paredes lacks a true position, diminishing the appeal of making room for him on a 25-man roster already housing a few players with defensive limitations. Paredes hit .216 with a .517 OPS in the second half of 2015 after surprisingly holding an .807 OPS at the All-Star break.

Should he clear waivers, Paredes could be outrighted to Norfolk. He was starting at third base for the Tides on Sunday and was scheduled to go on their next road trip, according to Showalter.

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Orioles “very pleased” with Gallardo’s first throwing session

Posted on 14 May 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo was encouraged by his first throwing session since being placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder discomfort on April 23.

The right-hander made 25 throws from 60 feet on flat ground Saturday afternoon and told reporters that he felt good. Manager Buck Showalter isn’t ready to disclose the full schedule for Gallardo’s potential return to the mound, but he will throw from 90 feet on Monday and from 120 feet after that.

“He and [head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and bullpen coach Dom Chiti] were very pleased with it,” Showalter said. “So far, so good. That was a good step for him. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He wasn’t just flipping it — you throw. It’s got some intensity to it.”

Showalter said the throwing progression will be similar to the one completed by Kevin Gausman in late March and April but would probably take a “little longer.” Gausman was sidelined for just over a month after receiving a cortisone shot for right shoulder tendinitis on March 20 and making his first regular-season start on April 25.

Gallardo, 30, had never gone to the DL with an arm-related injury in his first nine major league seasons.

He hasn’t pitched since leaving an April 22 start in Kansas City after two innings due to right shoulder discomfort. In his four starts covering 18 innings, Gallardo posted a 7.00 ERA with nine strikeouts and seven walks.

Much had been made about Gallardo’s declining strikeout rate and velocity over the last few seasons before the Orioles deliberated over his physical and eventually signed him to a two-year, $22 million contract in late February, but the organization hopes that the efforts to rest and strengthen his shoulder will result in a more competitive pitcher. Gallardo’s fastball was averaging a career-low 88.3 miles per hour in April, down 2.2 mph from last year’s average.

“You could see some of his arm action was even better,” said Showalter about his first throwing session. “This is a guy who had great command. One of the first things you know when a guy’s not feeling well is when they lose command.

“I’m hoping when he gets back that the stuff and the command are going to be better.”

Alvarez at third

Since J.J. Hardy’s foot injury resulted in some defensive shuffling two weeks ago, Showalter had said several times that Pedro Alvarez had more major league experience at third base than any other player on the roster.

The manager acted on that thought Saturday by giving Alvarez his first start at the hot corner since Aug. 17, 2014 when he was with Pittsburgh. Not known for his defensive work at either corner infield spot, Alvarez has been worth minus-29 defensive runs saved at third base in his career, which prompted the Pirates to move him to first base.

“It’s one thing I’ve been trying to get done,” Showalter said. “It’s something he’s very experienced at; it’s just I [had] to get him out there. As we play our next 120-some-odd games, we need to be able to know what we have — people at different places. There’s only one way to do it.”

Odds & ends

On Saturday, Scott McGregor began a four-game stint filling in as the Orioles pitching coach while Dave Wallace is away to deal with a family matter. … Hyun Soo Kim was making his first start since May 7 and seventh of the season. … Orioles relievers entered Saturday leading the majors with a 2.20 ERA in 110 1/3 innings pitched. Baltimore’s overall team ERA (3.47) ranked fourth in the American League and eighth in the majors. … Adam Jones hit his 200th career home run in Friday’s 1-0 win over Detroit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other player to hit a century-mark homer in a 1-0 game (200th or higher) was Ted Williams, who hit his 400th career long ball in a win over the Kansas City Athletics at Fenway Park in 1956.

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“Rounding the Bases” in Orioles’ 1-0 win over Detroit

Posted on 13 May 2016 by Luke Jones

Who stood out in the Orioles’ 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night?

In the spirit of hockey’s “three stars” system with the addition of home plate for honorable mentions and other notes, we go around the bases after the 33rd game of the 2016 season.

1stChris Tillman continues to look the part of an ace early on as he went toe to toe with 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and tossed seven shutout innings for his fifth victory of the season. Despite getting off to his customary slow start by allowing a total of four baserunners and throwing 38 pitches over his first two frames, Tillman settled in nicely to retire 14 of the final 16 hitters he faced. He recorded an impressive 13 swinging strikes and struck out seven batters, the final two coming immediately after he surrendered a leadoff double to Nick Castellanos in the top of the seventh. The right-hander has now posted five consecutive quality starts and has struck out an impressive 36 batters over those 33 innings of work. His season ERA now sits at a strong 2.58.

2ndAdam Jones picked the opportune time to hit his 200th career home run as he knocked a 92 mph fastball from Verlander into the Orioles bullpen with one out in the bottom of the sixth for the only run of the game. It was the third straight time that Jones had swung at a first-pitch fastball, and the center fielder didn’t miss one of the few mistake pitches made by the Detroit right-hander. The RBI moved Jones into sole possession of eighth place on the Orioles’ all-time list with 663, surpassing Melvin Mora. After a difficult start to the season, Jones has now homered in three of his last four games and has raised his average from .200 to .248 over that time.

3rdZach Britton induced three grounders for a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his 10th save in as many tries to begin 2016. It was his 83rd career save, tying the left-hander with Jorge Julio for fifth place on the Orioles’ all-time saves list.

HomeDarren O’Day worked around a leadoff single to retire the side in the eighth inning, which included getting Miguel Cabrera out for the second straight night in a close game. … The Orioles beat the Tigers by a 1-0 score for the first time since Sept. 23, 1981 at Memorial Stadium. It was the second shutout victory of the season for Baltimore. … Mark Trumbo saw his 25-game on-base streak snapped in an 0-for-3 night. … The Orioles can clinch a series win on Saturday night with Mike Wright going to the hill against Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez.

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First-round pick Ronnie Stanley agrees to deal with Ravens

Posted on 13 May 2016 by Luke Jones

Signing a first-round pick used to be a significant accomplishment for an NFL team, but now it’s little more than a formality.

Fifteen days after taking Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley with their earliest draft choice since 2000, the Ravens agreed to a four-year deal with the left tackle worth just over $20 million with a projected $13 million signing bonus. With the rookie wage scale introduced in the most recent collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, rookie holdouts have become a thing of the past as the Ravens have already signed nine of their 11 selections made in last month’s draft.

Stanley became the fourth top 10 pick from this year’s draft to agree to a contract.

It remains to be seen where Stanley will play as a rookie as incumbent left tackle Eugene Monroe remains on the roster for now, but the veteran is set to make $6.5 million in base salary and would carry an $8.7 million salary cap cap figure for the 2016 season. Cutting Monroe after June 1 would save $6.5 million in cap space with $2.2 million in dead money on this year’s cap and $4.4 million dead on the 2017 salary cap.

The Ravens have sent mixed signals regarding Monroe’s status throughout the offseason as he has started just 17 games over two injury-riddled seasons since signing a five-year, $37.5 million contract in March of 2014. One option would be to keep Monroe for one more year while shifting Stanley to left guard to fill the void left by free-agent departure Kelechi Osemele.

Baltimore used a similar strategy in 1996 when it drafted future Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden and played him at guard as a rookie while veteran Tony Jones stayed at left tackle before being traded to Denver the following offseason.

“The way we’re going to do it is we’re going to let Ronnie go in there and compete with Eugene,” offensive line coach Juan Castillo said on April 29. “What we want to do is play the best five players. We’re fortunate Ronnie is a very good athlete and good player, and so is Eugene. We’ll let them compete, and we know that we’re going to play the best five guys. The Ravens are all about competition.”

Monroe has become an outspoken advocate for medical marijuana, recently making an $80,000 donation to researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania. He is also scheduled to appear on a medical marijuana research panel in Las Vegas in the midst of the Ravens’ first three-day set of organized team activities in less than two weeks.

To no surprise considering the NFL’s stance on marijuana, the Ravens have distanced themselves from Monroe’s position.

The Ravens have just two remaining 2016 draft picks who have yet to sign, third-round defensive end Bronson Kaufusi and sixth-round wide receiver Keenan Reynolds.

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Ravens sign corner Jerraud Powers, waive receiver Marlon Brown

Posted on 13 May 2016 by Luke Jones

After failing to select a cornerback until the fourth round of last month’s draft, the Ravens added veteran depth to their secondary with the signing of eighth-year cornerback Jerraud Powers on Friday.

The one-year deal is worth $1.75 million, according to NFL Network.

Most recently with the Arizona Cardinals, the 5-foot-10 Powers has started 82 games in his NFL career and will likely compete with Shareece Wright for the starting cornerback job opposite Jimmy Smith. A 2009 third-round pick of Indianapolis, the Auburn product has the ability to play both outside and in the slot, bringing more versatility to new secondary coach Leslie Frazier’s cornerback group that also includes veterans Kyle Arrington and Will Davis as well as 2016 draft picks Tavon Young and Maurice Canady.

Powers has collected 380 tackles, 11 interceptions, 69 pass breakups, two sacks, and three forced fumbles in his NFL career. In 2015, the 28-year-old missed three games due to hamstring and calf injuries, but he started all other games including Arizona’s two playoff contests.

By waiting until after May 12 to sign Powers, the Ravens are still in line to receive a compensatory pick for the departure of starting left guard Kelechi Osemele as all unrestricted free agents signed after that date do not factor into the formula.

The Ravens also waived veteran wide receiver Marlon Brown, defensive end Nordly Capi, safety Nick Perry, and defensive back Jermaine Whitehead on Friday.

A feel-good story as a rookie free agent who caught 49 passes for 524 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, the 6-foot-5 Brown struggled in each of the last two seasons and was considered a long shot to make the 53-man roster this fall. After the Ravens elected not to tender him as a restricted free agent, they had re-signed him to a one-year contract in March.

The organization also announced it signed first-round offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley to a four-year contract, leaving only third-round defensive end Bronson Kaufusi and sixth-round wide receiver Keenan Reynolds unsigned from their 2016 draft class.

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