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Ravens release veteran left tackle Eugene Monroe

Posted on 15 June 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The divorce between the Ravens and Eugene Monroe became official Wednesday after the veteran left tackle’s contract was terminated.

A day after head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that general manager Ozzie Newsome was in trade discussions regarding Monroe’s services, Baltimore officially parted ways with the 29-year-old, who signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract in 2014 that included $17.5 million guaranteed. Despite missing a total of four games in his first five NFL seasons, Monroe started just 17 of 34 games over the last two seasons as he was sidelined with a variety of ailments.

It became apparent early this offseason that the Ravens were ready to move on from Monroe, first attempting to re-sign standout guard Kelechi Osemele to play left tackle permanently and then taking Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley with their earliest draft pick in 16 years. The veteran tackle’s stance on medical marijuana has also grabbed headlines over the last few months with Monroe even posting on Twitter last week that he felt the organization was distancing itself from him and his position.

By cutting him after June 1, the Ravens save $6.5 million in salary cap space while carrying $2.2 million in dead money. The 2017 salary cap will also carry $4.4 million in dead money from Monroe’s contract.

The frustration with Monroe likely boiled over in Week 11 last year when he exited with a shoulder injury before his replacement, James Hurst, was then pushed into starting quarterback Joe Flacco’s left knee, causing his season-ending ACL injury late in a 16-13 win over St. Louis. That would prove to be Monroe’s final game with the Ravens as he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery the following month.

Monroe had been cleared to return to the practice field last week, but the Ravens held him out of the first day of minicamp while attempting to trade him. According to NFL Network, the New York Giants were interested in Monroe but not at his $6.5 million salary for 2016 as well as his $6.75 million salaries for the final two years of his contract.

A first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009, Monroe was traded to the Ravens on Oct. 1, 2013 and played well in 11 games, prompting Newsome to invest a long-term contract in the University of Virginia product.

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Orioles finally send struggling Jimenez to bullpen

Posted on 15 June 2016 by Luke Jones

Sporting the worst ERA among qualified pitchers in the major leagues, Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez is finally moving to the bullpen.

Manager Buck Showalter announced the change ahead of Tuesday’s series-opening win in Boston as veteran Yovani Gallardo will be activated from the disabled list on Saturday to take Jimenez’s place in the starting rotation. After giving up five runs and retiring only one batter in Sunday’s loss to Toronto, Jimenez will now pitch in relief as he tries to work out his issues that have led to a 6.89 ERA and 1.98 WHIP in 13 starts covering 62 2/3 innings.

Over his last 28 starts dating back to last July 17, the 32-year-old has posted a 6.17 ERA in 147 1/3 innings. Still owing Jimenez just over $21 million through next season, the Orioles hope the right-hander can work out his issues in the bullpen to eventually return to a starting rotation that entered Tuesday ranked 12th in the American League in ERA.

This marks the second time in his three seasons with Baltimore that Jimenez has been moved to the bullpen because of ineffectiveness.

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Ravens attempting to trade veteran tackle Monroe

Posted on 14 June 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are poised to move on from veteran left tackle Eugene Monroe.

Despite being cleared to return to the field from last December’s season-ending shoulder surgery last week, Monroe was not on the field for the start of Baltimore’s three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that general manager Ozzie Newsome was engaged in discussions to trade Monroe, who is scheduled to make $6.5 million in base salary this season.

Monroe said via his official Twitter account on Friday that the Ravens had distanced themselves from him and his strong position in favor of medical marijuana, but the organization had been noncommittal about his future throughout the offseason. After unsuccessfully trying to re-sign Kelechi Osemele with the intention of permanently moving him to left tackle, Newsome selected Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley with the sixth overall pick in April’s draft.

“My understanding right now is that teams are inquiring about Eugene,” Harbaugh said. “When you’re in that kind of a situation, when there’s a possibility of those kinds of things happening, you’re pretty much obligated to pull back and not practice a guy. That where it’s at right now. It’s in Ozzie’s hands, and we’ll just see where it goes.”

Entering the third season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract that included $17.5 million guaranteed, Monroe, 29, has started just 17 games since the start of 2014 while missing action with a variety of injuries. He was sidelined last November when backup left tackle James Hurst was pushed into Joe Flacco’s left knee, causing a season-ending injury.

Trading or cutting Monroe now would clear $6.5 million in salary cap space — leaving $2.2 million in dead money on this year’s salary cap — and would push $4.4 million in dead money to the 2017 cap.

The only other surprise absence from the field on Tuesday was outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who is scheduled to speak with reporters on Wednesday. Like a few other veterans, Dumervil hadn’t taken part in any voluntary organized team activities open to the media.

“I think Elvis is going to be up here tomorrow, so he can give you the details,” Harbaugh said. “But he had what has been termed a ‘preventative procedure.’ He’s not ready to go in minicamp. He’ll be ready to go in training camp, but he can explain that to you [Wednesday].”

Other players missing from Tuesday’s practice were quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), defensive linemen Bronson Kaufusi (back) and Michael Pierce (undisclosed), cornerback Jumal Rolle (Achilles tendon), and wide receivers Steve Smith (Achilles tendon), Breshad Perriman (knee), and Michael Campanaro (calf).

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was on the field and wearing a helmet, but the veteran defensive back was limited to playing catch as he continues to recover from foot surgery earlier this spring.

Kaufusi signed his four-year rookie deal on Tuesday, meaning the Ravens’ entire 2016 draft class is now under contract.

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Perriman receives good news regarding 2016 status

Posted on 14 June 2016 by Luke Jones

It appears Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman’s 2016 season hasn’t come to an end, after all.

Tuesday’s arthroscopic surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews revealed that the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee is stable, meaning Perriman won’t need season-ending reconstruction surgery. The 22-year-old received a stem-cell injection to speed up the healing process, and the Ravens expect Perriman to be able to play this season.

The 2015 first-round pick hurt his left knee on the final day of organized team activities last week and was initially diagnosed with a partially-torn ACL, leaving his season in jeopardy before receiving the second opinion.

“I would just say that it’s not a tear that needs to be repaired,” head coach John Harbaugh. “I don’t know if it’s a tear or it it’s a partial tear or what exactly. I wasn’t there. Maybe Breshad can comment on that from what the doctors told him when he comes back. It just needs treatment, and he should be back at some point in time during training camp [and] will certainly be ready for the regular reason.

“But, again, that’s always unpredictable. I think we’ve been down this road before. We’ll continue to just work hard and do that. It was really good news today.”

As Harbaugh alluded to, skepticism will remain about how quickly Perriman can return to the field after he missed his entire rookie season with a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that was originally considered minor. However, this appears to be good news for the 2015 first-round pick and the Ravens compared to the alternative of season-ending ACL reconstruction.

With Thursday’s news, the Ravens still envision Perriman and veteran newcomer Mike Wallace becoming a dangerous downfield duo for quarterback Joe Flacco this season.

“You just feel for him and especially feel for him to not even be able to get his feet wet yet,” said Wallace about the second-year receiver. “He was just telling me last week how excited he was for this upcoming season. And we’re still hopeful that he’ll be back soon. We’re going to stay prayed up and keep hope alive for him, and I think hopefully he’ll be back at some point this season to help us.”

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Hardy begins rehab assignment as Gallardo wraps his

Posted on 14 June 2016 by Luke Jones

As a key member of the Orioles concluded a minor-league rehab assignment, another is about to begin his.

With starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo performing well in his third and final rehab start on Monday, shortstop J.J. Hardy will begin playing for Double-A Bowie on Tuesday as he moves closer to a return from a fractured left foot suffered on May 1. Gallardo could be activated from the 15-day disabled list to make Saturday’s start against the Toronto Blue Jays while it remains unclear how long Hardy’s assignment will last.

Pitching for Triple-A Norfolk against Charlotte on Monday, Gallardo turned in a strong five-inning performance in which he allowed just one run on one hit while striking out five and issuing two walks. The lone run he allowed came on a leadoff homer before he settled in to throw 90 pitches.

Showing better velocity than he did early in the season when he posted a 7.00 ERA in four starts before going on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis, Gallardo will be asked to help stabilize a starting rotation that’s struggled mightily in recent weeks. It remains unclear whose rotation spot Gallardo will take, but veteran Ubaldo Jimenez owns a grotesque 6.89 ERA and both Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson have minor-league options and have also struggled.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are eager to welcome back Hardy to help solidify the left side of their infield. Gold Glove third baseman Manny Machado has played very well shifting to shortstop, but Baltimore has had problems at the hot corner with Ryan Flaherty and Paul Janish offering substandard offense and Pedro Alvarez providing subpar defense when asked to play there.

Ideally, the Orioles would like to have Hardy return before Machado begins serving his suspension stemming from last week’s brawl with Yordano Ventura and the Kansas City Royals. Machado’s four-game suspension is pending an appeal.

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Tuesday surgery to reportedly decide Perriman’s 2016 fate

Posted on 13 June 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are holding out hope that wide receiver Breshad Perriman won’t miss a second straight season with a knee injury.

According to ESPN, there is “absolutely” a chance that the 2015 first-round pick could still play this season if Tuesday’s arthroscopic surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews determines he doesn’t need reconstruction of the partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. If reconstruction isn’t required, NFL Network reported that a stem-cell injection could aid in the healing of the ACL, a treatment that was also used for the partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in Perriman’s right knee last year.

Of course, the odds are still against Perriman as most “partial” ACL tears still lead to the same reconstruction procedure that would end his 2016 season. The critical questions are how stable and functional the knee is after the injury and how quickly he heals as it was no secret that the Ravens were frustrated by his slow recovery last year.

The Ravens begin their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday with head coach John Harbaugh expected to address the media after practice.

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Ravens lose needed upside with Perriman’s latest injury

Posted on 13 June 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are better equipped to handle Breshad Perriman’s absence than they were a year ago when he was their only hope in replacing Torrey Smith.

But that doesn’t make his latest knee injury any less disappointing for both him and the Ravens as they try to bounce back from a 5-11 season. We’re still waiting to see how Perriman’s skills translate to the NFL, of course, but that kind of upside is what Baltimore was counting on to help return to the playoff picture in the AFC after a one-year absence.

Perriman’s injury hardly ruins their season, but the Ravens have now lost a potential solution to a problem that plagued them a year ago. Even before the many injuries that sent the 2015 season spiraling out of control, John Harbaugh’s team lacked game-changing talent on either side of the ball, too often leaving the Ravens on the losing end of close games.

Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and quarterback Joe Flacco will now lean more heavily on veteran newcomer Mike Wallace, a former 1,200-yard receiver coming off the worst season of his career. To be fair, the 29-year-old wasn’t a good fit in Minnesota with Teddy Bridgewater’s limited throwing arm, but Wallace’s career hasn’t exactly been trending in the right direction since leaving Pittsburgh a few years ago.

The combination of Perriman and Wallace made you salivate about the deep-ball potential with Flacco’s strong arm, but the Ravens will likely now take a longer look at fourth-round rookie Chris Moore, another vertical threat out of Cincinnati. Perhaps Moore is a diamond in the rough who can pair nicely with Wallace, but neither possesses the same apparent ceiling as the speedy Perriman.

When you’re coming off a 5-11 season, you need game-changing talent. The Ravens have enough solid-to-good players on this roster, but first-round picks are supposed to have the potential to become great ones, which is what general manager Ozzie Newsome envisioned when he took Perriman last year to compete in a division that has such game-changing receivers as Antonio Brown and A.J. Green.

That’s why the 22-year-old’s latest setback stings for a roster with aging players at a number of key positions. Perriman was himself still an unknown, but the Ravens hoped he would be a major answer at wide receiver, a position where there are other options but plenty of questions.

Will Steve Smith still look like the same player at age 37 and coming off an Achilles tendon injury?

Can Kamar Aiken prove last year’s production wasn’t merely the result of Ravens quarterbacks having no one else to throw to in the second half of the season?

Does Wallace still have the ability to hurt opposing defenses in the vertical passing game?

Will anyone from the group of Moore, Michael Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, Keenan Reynolds, and Chris Matthews emerge to be a bigger force than expected?

If the Ravens were coming off their typical season under Harbaugh in which they made the playoffs and were firmly in the AFC title hunt, Perriman’s injury would be a bummer but calmly received with the “next man up” mantra. But a lot of ground needs to be made up when you’re coming off the type of season Baltimore had in 2015.

The Ravens need high-impact talent to emerge and the ball to bounce their way in 2016 after a season in which seemingly everything went wrong.

Perhaps they will still find their answers elsewhere, but it hurts to again lose a talent envisioned as such a difference-maker.

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Jimenez leaves Orioles no choice but to make change

Posted on 12 June 2016 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have no other choice after Ubaldo Jimenez allowed five runs and retired just one batter before being removed from Sunday’s game in Toronto.

It’s time to make a change.

Whether that means a trip to the bullpen or the Orioles making the bold and difficult decision to designate him for assignment, Jimenez shouldn’t remain in the starting rotation. How hard a worker the 32-year-old might be or even how much money he’s still owed through next season can’t justify him making his next start for a team entering a much-needed off-day still tied for first place in the AL East and 10 games over .500 in mid-June.

Inconsistency is one thing — it’s defined his career, after all — but not giving your club a chance while repeatedly compromising the bullpen is another. The good — or even decent — version of Jimenez has been missing for well over a month now with his best performance over that time being an outing in which he allowed nine hits and three walks in five innings against an undermanned Kansas City lineup last week.

In his last seven starts, Jimenez has pitched to a 10.00 ERA in 27 innings of work. Over that time, he’s twice failed to complete two innings, hasn’t once finished six innings, and has surrendered five or more runs in all but one of those outings.

His season ERA now sits at 6.89 and his WHIP — walks and hits per inning pitched — is an appalling 1.98. As Ravens coach John Harbaugh would say, that’s below the line.

Asked multiple times over the last few weeks about Jimenez’s spot in the rotation, manager Buck Showalter has often replied, “As opposed to whom?” It’s his subtle and mostly-innocuous way of challenging a reporter asking a critical question but also a commentary on the organization’s lack of viable starting pitching depth.

It’s no longer a fitting retort, however. No matter how limited the alternatives might be, you cannot maintain the status quo if you’re trying to be fair to the rest of the players on a contending club, especially after the Orioles decided to jettison the popular Miguel Gonzalez — who is pitching pretty well again in Chicago, mind you — after a difficult second half to 2015 and a poor spring.

It’s unfortunate because Jimenez is a well-liked teammate and desperately wants to do well, but the answer to Showalter’s rhetorical question has become “anybody else” at this point. That’s not to say that Yovani Gallardo or Vance Worley or T.J. McFarland or Odrisamer Despaigne or anyone Dan Duquette might find off the scrapheap will provide the solution the Orioles seek, but all options need to be on the table when you’re talking about replacing a starter with an ERA a smidgen under 7.00.

With Gallardo scheduled to make a final rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, he’s poised to return to the rotation this weekend. The Orioles can only pray that he will have more to offer than he did in April when he had a 7.00 ERA in four starts before going to the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis.

We know Jimenez isn’t the only starter struggling as Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson both pitched poorly in Toronto, but that shouldn’t be an argument to justify continuing to go down this path with the veteran right-hander.

One problem at a time.

The frustrating thing is that the Orioles don’t need terrific starting pitching to contend when they have such a powerful offense, a terrific bullpen, and strong infield defense. Mediocrity from its rotation would probably be enough, but Jimenez hasn’t been able to provide even that much despite being in the third season of a four-year, $50 million contract.

Even if you believe Jimenez can get himself straightened out with some side sessions and low-leverage appearances out of the bullpen before giving him another shot in the rotation in a few weeks, there’s no competitive reason to continue sending him to the mound every fifth day for a contending club right now. He needs a break mentally and emotionally as much as he does physically to try to figure out how to fix this — if he can.

The Orioles have been more than patient, but Showalter’s first-inning hook on Sunday said it all.

It’s time to throw in the towel.

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“Rounding the Bases” in Orioles’ 11-6 loss to Blue Jays

Posted on 11 June 2016 by Luke Jones

What went wrong in the Orioles’ 11-6 defeat to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon?

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 61st game of the 2016 season.

1st — With the Orioles not having as much quality in the bullpen these days with Darren O’Day on the disabled list and Buck Showalter needing to stay away from Mychal Givens and Brad Brach, T.J. McFarland offered no relief in the sixth inning. Many questioned why the lefty long man didn’t begin the bottom of the sixth with no one on, but having a leadoff runner on first can’t excuse the poor performance. You can’t walk Russell Martin and Ezequiel Carrera with Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion looming, and Toronto’s big guns made McFarland pay with a sacrifice fly and a three-run homer, respectively. Making matters worse, the lefty gave up another run in the seventh that loomed big when the Orioles lineup made the game interesting again in the top of the eighth. Five runs, five hits, and two walks over two innings certainly didn’t make his manager happy.

2nd — He somehow managed to keep the Orioles in the game into the sixth inning, but Mike Wright’s inability to throw strikes led to his downfall as just 49 of the 103 pitches he threw were in the strike zone. Trying to build off an encouraging start against Kansas City, the right-hander walked a career-high five in five-plus innings and threw first-pitch strikes to just eight of the 24 hitters he faced on Saturday afternoon. His fastball command was especially poor as he got away with a number of pitches over the course of his outing that could have made the final results even worse. After temporarily being sent to the minors before his strong outing against the Royals acted as a mulligan, this clearly wasn’t what the Orioles were looking for from the 26-year-old.

3rd — It’s difficult to find too much fault with an offense that scored six runs on the day, but the Orioles went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Baltimore stranded a runner on third with one out in the fourth, a runner on second with no outs in the sixth, and scored only one more time after Mark Trumbo’s RBI single that kept the bases loaded with no outs in the seventh. Six runs should be enough to win most days, but the Orioles did have plenty of chances to add more.

Home — The Blue Jays removed all doubt about the outcome after Brian Duensing gave up solo homers to Encarnacion and Michael Saunders in the eighth. The veteran lefty has allowed four runs in his first 3 2/3 innings with the Orioles. … Chris Davis homered in his fourth consecutive game and collected the first two extra-base hits by a left-handed batter against Toronto starter J.A. Happ this season. … Joey Rickard collected his first three-hit game since April 21 and hit his fifth homer of the season. … Manny Machado hit his 16th homer of the season and raised his average to .306 with a three-hit afternoon. … Ubaldo Jimenez goes to the hill in search of a series split on Sunday while right-hander Aaron Sanchez starts for the Blue Jays.

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Ravens receiver Perriman suffers partial ACL tear in left knee

Posted on 11 June 2016 by Luke Jones

After missing his entire rookie season with a right knee injury, Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman has reportedly sustained a serious injury to his left one.

As first reported by ESPN, the 2015 first-round pick suffered a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament during the final week of organized team activities. Perriman will visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday to determine whether he needs season-ending surgery.

Perriman participated in Tuesday’s OTA open to media and had been running at full speed, sprinting right past Baltimore defensive backs on several occasions during the practice. However, the injury occurred in one of the remaining days closed to the media.

The 22-year-old said last month he felt “like a kid in a candy store” being back on the football field after his lost rookie year and a difficult offseason in which his father — former NFL wideout Brett Perriman — nearly died from a brain aneurysm.

The Central Florida product sustained a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on the first full-squad day of training camp last summer and then experienced a setback after briefly returning to practice in late September. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Nov. 17.

The Ravens were hoping that the return of Perriman coupled with the free-agent addition of veteran Mike Wallace would add much-needed speed to a passing game lacking explosiveness in 2015.

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