Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

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Ravens officially sign running back West, cut three others

Posted on 08 May 2017 by Luke Jones

With the NFL draft over and most rookie free agents having already found destinations, the Ravens have already begun making changes to their 90-man roster.

On Monday, the organization waived three players: running back Stephen Houston, quarterback Zach Terrell, and defensive end Omarius Bryant. Terrell and Bryant had just signed as rookie free agents last week and took part in the rookie minicamp over the weekend, illustrating the fluidity of the roster this time of year.

In another move that was little more than a formality, restricted free-agent running back Terrance West officially signed his tender worth just under $1.8 million for the 2017 season. Though the Towson product and Baltimore native was eligible to sign an offer sheet with another team, the price tag of forfeiting a third-round pick to the Ravens in order to sign him undoubtedly made suitors shy away.

With second-year running back Kenneth Dixon suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy and the Ravens not selecting a back in last month’s draft, West is expected to begin 2017 as the starter in the backfield. In his first full season with Baltimore, the 26-year-old rushed for 774 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 4.0 yards per carry.

The Ravens also re-sign signed cornerback Sheldon Price, leaving linebackers Patrick Onwuasor and Lamar Louis as their only exclusive-rights free agents not to have officially signed contracts.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 4-0 win over White Sox

Posted on 07 May 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles completing a three-game sweep in a 4-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. No one quite knew what to expect from Chris Tillman after he gave up four home runs in his last rehab start pitching for Triple-A Norfolk, but everyone invested in the Orioles would have gladly taken the five shutout innings he threw in his season debut.

2. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised given his history of first-inning struggles, but seven straight balls and two walks to open the game made you wonder if Tillman would make it out of the first. Despite quite a few deep counts, he walked only one more after those first two.

3. Tillman’s fastball velocity wasn’t his best, but he comfortably sat at 90 mph and went no lower than 88, which is good enough for him to succeed. He also threw good secondary pitches, inducing all eight of his swinging strikes with those over the course of his outing.

4. The results were good to see, but how Tillman feels Monday and Tuesday is more important than anything occurring in his first start. He and the training staff have put a great deal of work into strengthening his right shoulder, so you hope that pays off.

5. The Baltimore lineup didn’t square up many against White Sox lefty starter Jose Quintana, but it was important to get Tillman an early lead after he escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first. An early 4-0 lead probably had Chicago thinking about getting out of town more than anything else.

6. Drawing the walk clearly isn’t a big part of the Orioles offense, but Adam Jones and Manny Machado came around to score after reaching on free passes in the first. You’d like to see a few more of those every now and then.

7. After homering off a right-hander the night before, Trey Mancini continues to make a strong bid to become an everyday player with a 3-for-4 performance that included a two-out RBI single in the first. His average now sits at .297 as he continues to maximize his chances.

8. Alec Asher was two outs away from the unorthodox three-inning-plus save before being lifted in favor of Brad Brach, but he did a superb job giving the bullpen a breather. His 2.55 ERA in 17 2/3 innings between starting and relief hasn’t gone unnoticed.

9. Francisco Pena said he’ll be OK for the start of the Washington series after his right thumb and much of his right arm cramped up in the eighth. If not, the Orioles will have an interesting decision on their hands with starting catcher Welington Castillo already on the disabled list.

10. The Orioles are 20-10 despite Tillman and Zach Britton missing significant time, Kevin Gausman struggling mightily, and Mark Trumbo slugging .314 with only two home runs so far. Just like Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette drew it up, right?

11. Jonathan Schoop missed his second straight game after being hit on the hand by a pitch in Friday’s win. The timing isn’t ideal with him swinging the bat so well and having reached base in 22 straight games, but Showalter hopes to have him back for the Nationals series.

12. Sunday marked the 2,000th game in the history of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Needless to say, the last six seasons have been far more enjoyable than much of the park’s history. The Orioles are now 11-3 at home in 2017.

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Britton admits returning too soon, will see specialist for forearm

Posted on 06 May 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — A day after waking up with the recurrence of a left forearm strain, Orioles closer Zach Britton acknowledged that he probably tried to return to the mound too soon.

The two-time All-Star reliever was placed on the 10-day disabled list less than a week after being activated from his first stint. It remains unclear how long he’ll be sidelined after missing more than two weeks with the initial injury, but he and the club will be even more careful this time around.

“I think the doctors and the trainers wanted me to kind of be a little bit more cautious with it at the time — maybe take another week,” Britton said. “But I felt pretty good and wanted to come back to the team. I was kind of over sitting on the bench watching games, so I felt like I was in a good enough position to come back. Obviously, I wasn’t.”

According to Britton, his Friday evening MRI showed similar results to the initial one taken last month, but he will fly to Los Angeles to visit esteemed sports orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday afternoon to get a better idea on a timetable for his return. ElAttrache performed both of third baseman Manny Machado’s knee surgeries a few years back.

Team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs is also sending images of the pitcher’s forearm to the esteemed Dr. James Andrews for feedback.

Britton and the Orioles have repeatedly said there is no concern about the health of his left elbow as the location of the discomfort in his forearm is closer to his wrist.

“Thankfully, it’s the same issue. It’s not anything else with the elbow,” Britton said. “It’s just muscle, which is great because it’s going to heal. Ligaments and tendons, normally, you have to manage it and hope that nothing serious happens. But for muscle, they say it’s going to heal. It’s just a matter of time. I guess if there’s any positive, that’s it.”

After being activated from the DL on Tuesday, Britton threw two scoreless innings in the Boston series, but he was not getting the normal movement on his sinker, a sign that all was not right with his forearm. The lefty didn’t start feeling the discomfort again until Friday morning.

“I didn’t think that was going to happen, especially so soon after coming back,” Britton said. “I knew I wasn’t back with like extension or finish with my pitches all the way. Talking with Caleb, it seemed like after my pitch count got around 10, the ball started flattening out a little bit more. For something that happens so natural for me to sink the ball, when that’s not happening, it’s not like I’m manipulating the ball to do something.

“If something that I do is so natural and I’m having a hard time doing it, I want to get that issue fixed, so I can get back and do what I do well. I can’t help the team if I don’t do what I do well.”

To take Britton’s place on the 25-man roster, the Orioles recalled right-handed pitcher Alec Asher.

NOTES: Second baseman Jonathan Schoop was out of Saturday’s lineup after being hit in the hand by a pitch in Friday’s game. X-rays were negative, but he did experience some swelling, prompting manager Buck Showalter to sit him in favor of utility man Ryan Flaherty. The 25-year-old had played in 190 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in the majors. … Starting pitcher Wade Miley expects to make his next start despite leaving Friday’s game with a left wrist contusion from a line drive in the first inning. … Right-handed pitcher Gabriel Ynoa (right hamstring strain) was also placed on the DL, which allowed the Orioles to recall right-handed pitcher Logan Verrett before the 10-day minimum requirement. Ynoa likely would have been optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk anyway after throwing 101 pitches in emergency relief on Friday. … The Orioles traded right-handed pitcher Damien Magnifico to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for right-handed pitcher Jordan Kipper on Saturday. Magnifico had been designated for assignment on Tuesday.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 4-2 win over White Sox

Posted on 06 May 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles beginning a five-game homestand with a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The news of Zach Britton again experiencing left forearm discomfort took the fun out of an improbable win in which the Orioles lost their starting pitcher in the first inning. As I noted after Thursday’s win in Boston, Britton’s sinker didn’t look right in two appearances since being activated.

2. Wade Miley was hit by two vicious liners in a three-pitch period to force him out of the game with two outs in the first. Fortunately, he suffered only a contusion on his left wrist and doesn’t expect to miss his next start, but I’ve never seen anything like that.

3. Gabriel Ynoa couldn’t have been much better in his Orioles debut, turning in six scoreless innings of relief to collect the win. With Miley’s exit occurring two nights after Kevin Gausman was ejected in the second inning at Boston, Ynoa’s 101 pitches were a godsend for a strained staff.

4. Ynoa really impressed with his slider as he used the breaking pitch to record 10 of his 13 swinging strikes. His numbers at Triple-A Norfolk were less than impressive in April, but he showed the kind of stuff Friday that makes him an interesting option moving forward.

5. Few had faith in Baltimore’s starting pitching depth entering the season, but it should be noted that Alec Asher, Jayson Aquino, and Tyler Wilson have all turned in quality starts in addition to Ynoa’s quasi-start on Friday. Those contributions have been huge with other starters ailing or struggling.

6. Chris Davis hit his first home run — and collected his first multi-hit game — since April 14 in a 3-for-3 night that also included a walk. The Orioles hope that’s the kind of game that gets the big first baseman going after an extended slump.

7. It’s a bit more understandable after we learned that Britton wasn’t available, but I’m still surprised that Buck Showalter allowed the newly-recalled Stefan Crichton to start the eighth inning with only a 2-0 lead. His leadoff walk issued to Melky Cabrera led to the first White Sox run.

8. Joey Rickard’s RBI double in the eighth proved to be the winning run after Brad Brach ran into some difficulty in the ninth inning. Those insurances runs become even more critical now with the incomparable Britton sidelined once again.

9. Seeing J.J. Hardy mishandle two potential double-play balls in the ninth was disconcerting as he continues to look shaky in the field. His defense needs to remain strong to help offset the decline in his bat over the last few years.

10. Old friend Miguel Gonzalez turned in the type of performance we frequently saw over his four seasons with Baltimore. His outings were rarely fancy and he struggled in the second half of 2015, but jettisoning him last spring was an obvious mistake.

11. Chris Tillman felt good after his workday on Friday and will make his 2017 debut for the Orioles on Sunday. Of course, the results in his four minor-league rehab starts and his underwhelming velocity have everyone holding their breath over whether he can at least be close to himself.

12. They’ve still managed to go 4-4 going back to last Friday, but this is easily one of the strangest weeks of Orioles baseball that I’ve ever witnessed. What else can happen at this point? Well, maybe we shouldn’t answer that.

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Orioles closer Britton again experiencing left forearm discomfort

Posted on 06 May 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles closer Zach Britton is again experiencing left forearm discomfort just days after being activated from the disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter broke the news after Britton did not pitch the ninth inning and setup man Brad Brach instead collected his sixth save in Baltimore’s 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Friday. After pitching a scoreless inning in Thursday’s win at Boston, Britton woke up feeling discomfort and underwent an MRI on Friday evening.

The left-hander was originally placed on the DL with a left forearm strain on April 16.

“There’s some talk about what the next step to take with him [would be],” Showalter said. “He woke up this morning and felt some discomfort. He came in today. It got a little better as the day went on, but we’re trying to decide what our next step is.”

Britton was activated on Tuesday after missing more than two weeks of action. He completed two scoreless one-inning appearances in the Red Sox series, but his two-seam fastball lacked its typical sinking action, making it possible that his forearm was bothering him before Friday.

In the standout closer’s absence, Brach has gone 6-for-7 in save opportunities while veteran Darren O’Day has gone 1-for-2. Both blew saves in last weekend’s series with the New York Yankees, a reminder of how remarkable Britton’s 2016 campaign was in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and posted an amazing 0.54 ERA on his way to being named the American League reliever of the year.

The two-time All-Star closer underwent an initial MRI on April 21, but he and Showalter said that exam did not reveal any structural concerns with his left elbow. The Orioles hope the second test will not show any new damage, but the recurrence of the forearm discomfort is obviously concerning.

“How we proceed will probably be derived from those findings,” Showalter said. “We’ll just compare it to the one they just took [last month]. It’s the same – forearm strain – I think. That’s what I was told. I talked with Zach today and Dr. [Michael] Jacobs and Richie [Bancells] and Roger [McDowell] and just trying to gather all the information to decide which direction to go.”

Despite allowing 12 hits and four walks in nine innings this season, Britton has converted each of his five save chances.

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Ravens ink five 2017 draft choices, announce rookie free-agent signings

Posted on 05 May 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With their rookie minicamp taking place this weekend, the Ravens announced the signing of first-round pick Marlon Humphrey and four other 2017 draft choices on Friday.

The Alabama cornerback becomes the earliest first-round signing in the 22-year history of the franchise, but it doesn’t come as a major shock considering how inconsequential draft-pick signings have become in recent years under the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011. The earliest first-round pick to sign had previously been wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who inked his rookie deal on May 11, 2015.

The Ravens also signed second-round linebacker Tyus Bowser, fourth-round guard Nico Siragusa, fifth-round offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor, and sixth-round safety Chuck Clark. Their two third-round picks, defensive end Chris Wormley and outside linebacker Tim Williams, remained unsigned as of Friday afternoon, but both were participating in the weekend minicamp.

“Just seeing an NFL contract, a lot of it has paid off,” said Bowser about signing his rookie contract. “Being able to see that, it is so many great feelings, just knowing what you have been through and seeing that you have accomplished what your goal was.”

Baltimore also announced the signing of 16 rookie free agents on Friday: Michigan punter Kenny Allen, Arizona State wide receiver Tim White, Utah wide receiver Tim Patrick, Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell, Mississippi wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, Virginia running back Taquan Mizzell, Mississippi cornerback Carlos Davis, New Mexico safety Daniel Henry, Oregon State fullback Ricky Ortiz, Pittsburgh linebacker Bam Bradley, Stetson linebacker Donald Payne, Georgia center Brandon Kublanow, Middle Tennessee guard Maurquice Shakir, Chattanooga wide receiver C.J. Board, Maine defensive end Patrick Ricard, and Western Kentucky defensive end Omarius Bryant.

After the Ravens chose not to take a wide receiver in last weekend’s draft, it’s worth noting that four of their 16 rookie free-agent signings play that position.

The organization also announced jersey numbers for the 23 rookies currently on the roster:

2017 draft class
CB Marlon Humphrey — 29
LB Tyus Bowser — 54
DE Chris Wormley — 93
LB Tim Williams — 56
G Nico Siragusa — 65
OL Jermaine Eluemunor — 71
S Chuck Clark — 36

2017 rookie free agents
P Kenny Allen — 3
WR Tim White — 6
WR Tim Patrick — 7
QB Zach Terrell — 8
WR Quincy Adeboyejo — 18
RB Taquan Mizzell — 33
CB Carlos Davis — 38
S Daniel Henry — 40
FB Ricky Ortiz — 44
LB Bam Bradley — 53
LB Donald Payne — 58
C Brandon Kublanow — 60
G Maurquice Shakir — 76
WR C.J. Board — 83
DE Patrick Ricard — 91
DE Omarius Bryant — 95

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 8-3 win over Boston

Posted on 05 May 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles finishing off a rocky 3-4 road trip with an 8-3 win over the Boston Red Sox, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The Orioles didn’t enjoy their four-game series in Boston for a variety of reasons, but you had to be impressed with their fortitude when it would have been easy to just look forward to going home Thursday night. Salvaging a split really showed something underneath the hood.

2. Considering he found out he’d be starting less than 24 hours before first pitch, Tyler Wilson turned in a crucial six-inning performance to not only give the Orioles a good chance to win but also save a pitching staff that had its rotation turned upside down a day earlier.

3. Retiring 12 of the final 13 hitters he faced, Wilson again showed he isn’t intimidated pitching at Fenway, the same place where he threw eight shutout innings in a win last season. It remains to be seen whether he can succeed in the majors long term, but the kid battles.

4. His profanity-laced rant garnered some unflattering attention — even if he made very sound points — but Manny Machado can hold his head up over how he handled himself on the field. He clobbered his third homer of the series to give the Orioles the lead in the fourth.

5. An unusual number of opposing lefty starters has limited the at-bats for Seth Smith early on, but the veteran collected four hits to raise his average from .222 to .286. His .397 on-base percentage thus far is exactly what the Orioles were looking for when they acquired him from Seattle.

6. Smith’s swipe of home on the back end of a double steal gave the Orioles their eighth and ninth stolen bases of the year after a total of 19 in 2016. With the offense not exactly firing on all cylinders, it’s been good to see them force the issue some.

7. I’m guessing more than a few fans were afraid early on that the Orioles were going to be shut down by Kyle Kendrick in his first major league appearance since 2015. It took a little while, but the third time through the order did the trick.

8. It paled in comparison to what happened at Yankee Stadium last week, but the Orioles bullpen made it interesting in the seventh as Donnie Hart and Mychal Givens combined to load the bases with two outs. You hope the group now being back to full strength will stabilize things.

9. Joey Rickard received praise for his inning-ending catch in the seventh, but Statcast rated the play as having a routine 96-percent catch probability. It wasn’t a graceful grab, but Buck Showalter was certainly relieved that he made the play.

10. Zach Britton allowed one hit and struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. on an impressive slider in a scoreless ninth inning, but he didn’t get much movement on his sinker for the second straight outing since his return from the disabled list.

11. Just over nine months removed from Tommy John surgery, Hunter Harvey will complete a 25-pitch bullpen session on Friday. That’s certainly encouraging news for the former first-round pick who’s just 22 years old.

12. Given how mentally draining these last seven games with New York and Boston were, the Orioles have to be happy to conclude a season-opening stretch of 24 of 27 games against the American League East. Nineteen of their next 22 come against opponents outside the division.

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Former Ravens running back Forsett announces retirement

Posted on 03 May 2017 by Luke Jones

Former Ravens running back Justin Forsett is calling it a career.

The 2014 Pro Bowl selection announced his retirement on Wednesday after a nine-year career spent with seven different teams, but he will be remembered for his unexpected rise in Baltimore during a trying time for the organization both on and off the field. Signed only weeks after three-time Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice was arrested for assaulting his future wife in an Atlantic City casino elevator in 2014, the career journeyman emerged as the starting running back on his way to a career-high 1,266 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Those contributions helped the Ravens to their only trip to the playoffs since Super Bowl XLVII.

Forsett also became a leader in the locker room and an active member of the community as the Ravens were trying to repair their image after the embarrassing mishandling of the Rice saga. Recognizing his value both on and off the field, general manager Ozzie Newsome signed Forsett to a three-year, $9 million deal on March 12, 2015.

Despite a respectable 2015 campaign cut short because of a broken arm, the 31-year-old would not play out his entire contract as he was released by the Ravens last fall when Terrance West emerged as the No. 1 back over the first month of the season. Also spending time with Detroit and Denver in 2016, Forsett rushed for 291 yards and averaged only 3.3 yards per carry in nine games.

The 2008 seventh-round pick out of California ran for 3,890 yards and 19 touchdowns in his NFL career, but more than half of that production came in his three seasons with the Ravens.

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Orioles activate Britton, place Castillo on 10-day DL

Posted on 02 May 2017 by Luke Jones

The Orioles officially welcomed closer Zach Britton back to the 25-man roster while losing another key player prior to Tuesday’s game against Boston.

Catcher Welington Castillo was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis a day after being scratched with what was originally described as neck spasms. An MRI exam revealed the issue, but the ailment is not expected to sideline Castillo for long.

Signed to a one-year, $6 million contract in December, the 30-year-old is batting .314 with one home run, six RBIs, and a .776 on-base plus slugging percentage in 72 plate appearances with his new club.

“Structurally fine. He started some medication,” manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston prior to Tuesday’s game. “I think it’ll manage itself within the 10 days, but because of the position, we’re going to need a catcher. We’ve been thinking about it, waiting on the tests, and talking with Welington the most. This is the path that we have decided to take.”

Baltimore selected the contract of Francisco Pena from Triple-A Norfolk. He is expected to serve as the backup to Caleb Joseph for the time being. To make room for Pena on the 40-man roster, recently-acquired minor-league pitcher Damien Magnifico was designated for assignment.

The Orioles are thrilled to have Britton back at the end of the bullpen for the first time since April 14 when he felt left forearm discomfort while throwing a slider in Toronto. The two-time All-Star closer made two rehab appearances for Double-A Bowie, allowing a home run in 1 2/3 innings.

To make room for Britton’s activation from the DL, right-handed pitcher Mike Wright was optioned back to Norfolk a day after being recalled as a fresh arm for the bullpen. He did not appear in Monday’s game.

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Heap family asks people to honor daughter’s memory this week

Posted on 02 May 2017 by Luke Jones

Holly Heap would have celebrated her fourth birthday on Wednesday.

That’s why the family of former Ravens tight end Todd Heap is asking people to honor his daughter’s memory this week. The family has started the website HugsFromHolly.com requesting people to wear pink, to spread love and joy through random acts of kindness, and to post pictures of those acts using the hashtag #HugsFromHollyDay on Wednesday.

“Holly was known to give the best hugs, and her love for everyone and everything in life was contagious,” the website reads. “Let’s spread this joy as we scatter sunshine in Holly’s honor on her birthday.”

Current and former members of the Ravens organization have used social media to share the website, which includes a link to donate to the Baltimore Community Fund in Holly’s memory.

Holly was tragically killed on April 14 when her father accidentally struck her with his truck in the driveway of the family’s home in suburban Phoenix.

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