Tag Archive | "Baseball"

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Orioles recall four prior to Tuesday’s game in Cleveland

Posted on 03 September 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Tuesday that they have recalled INF JONATHAN SCHOOP, OF HENRY URRUTIA and RHP JOSH STINSON from Triple-A Norfolk, and INF RYAN FLAHERTY from High-A Frederick.

Schoop, 21, will make his major league debut when he first appears in a game. He batted .256/.301/.396 with nine home runs and 34 RBI in 289 plate appearances while playing second base and shortstop for the Tides this season. Schoop also batted .214/.313/.464 with two home runs in eight games for Team Netherlands in this year’s World Baseball Classic. He will wear #6.

Urrutia, 26, batted .316/.358/.430 in 29 games for the Tides this season after hitting .365/.433/.550 in 52 games with Double-A Bowie. He batted .269/.269/.308 in 21 games with the Orioles earlier this season.

Stinson, 25, went 7-6 with a 3.78 ERA (131.0IP, 55ER) in 23 starts for the Tides this season. He posted a 2.95 ERA (36.2IP, 12ER) in his final seven starts. Stinson made three appearances (one start) for the Orioles earlier this season, posting a 6.53 ERA (8.0IP, 5ER).

Flaherty, 27, has batted .218/.280/.364 in 75 games for the Orioles this season. He hit a combined .265/.280/.490 in 12 games with Frederick (two games), Class-A Delmarva (two) and Triple-A Norfolk (eight).

With these moves, the Orioles now have 32 players on the active roster.

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Morneau

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Trade Deadline: 3 Options for the O’s at DH

Posted on 30 July 2013 by benheck

Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline is fast approaching, and the Baltimore Orioles (58-48) don’t appear to be done dealing just yet.

With rumors swirling, there’s no question the third place Orioles are looking for a proven veteran to fill the designated hitter slot down the stretch and there are a couple of options open to Buck Showalter’s squad.

Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

Though the O’s appear to have to given up on Morneau over the last few days, it would still be an interesting move to bring in the left-handed hitter. Three seasons removed from his last All-Star appearance, Morneau has battled injuries over the last few seasons and has seen his power drop considerably. But that doesn’t mean the 32-year old doesn’t still have veteran leadership and a decent bat (.264 BA, 53 runs batted in) to bring to the table in Baltimore. They wouldn’t have to invest long-term in him, and he would help solidify the lineup spot down the stretch. At this point, however, he appears to be a long-shot.

Marlon Byrd, New York Mets

The Mets’ CF is hitting .280 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs this season at the age of 35. But if dealt for before tomorrow’s deadline, he’ll likely be coming off the bench or filling the DH role because of an already stacked outfield consisting of McLouth, Jones and Markakis. The O’s have shown interest in Byrd, but the Mets––according to the NY Dailey News––say he’s “highly unlikely” to be traded. But that doesn’t mean the Mets will turn down every offer they are given. The Mets are 12.5 games back in the NL East, so you’d think they would be open to trading an aging outfielder for promising young prospects.

Michael Young, Philadelphia Phillies

Young always seems to be in the middle of trade deadline rumors each season. Though Baltimore hasn’t made a huge push for Young, the 36-year old former All-Star could really give this lineup a boost. Another unlikely move, but it would surely make sense for GM Dan Duquette to make a move for the veteran, wouldn’t it? He’s a buy-low type of player and is a very versatile utility guy. He’d fit in as the every-day designated hitter, but could also sub in and out at virtually any infield position when Machado or Roberts need an off-day.

It’s still unknown whether or not the Orioles organization will make a move for a full-time DH, or just keep going with the DH carousel they have now. One thing is for certain: it wouldn’t hurt to have a solidified lineup by making a move for a full-time DH. The O’s have used seven different designated hitters during the month of July alone. We know Buck likes to switch things up and keep the opponent guessing, but for a late playoff run it may be nice to have one go-to guy for the spot.

And there’s certainly no shortage of proven, veteran designated hitters on the market.

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Orioles option Britton, Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 09 July 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced after Tuesday’s game that they have optioned left-handed pitcher Zach Britton and right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk.

Britton, 25, is 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA (34.0IP, 18ER) in six starts for the Orioles this season. He started tonight’s game and took the loss, allowing 5 earned runs in 5.0 innings.

Gausman, 22, is 1-3 with a 6.21 ERA (33.1IP, 23ER) in nine games (five starts) for the O’s this season.

Corresponding roster moves will be announced before Wednesday’s game.

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Machado

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Machado: Cornerstone of Baltimore’s Roster for the Next Decade

Posted on 08 July 2013 by benheck

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado just celebrated his 21st birthday on Saturday, yet he’s already considered to be the next big thing in Baltimore. And with good reason, too.

Machado, selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft, started out in Double-A Bowie at the beginning of last season after spending all of 2011 in Single-A Delmarva and Single-A+ Frederick.

While in Bowie in 2012, Machado played 109 games at shortstop, hitting 11 homers, batting in 59 runs with 13 stolen bases and an average of .266.

As an intern for Scout.com covering the Baysox last summer, I was around him in the clubhouse after nearly every home game, and let me just say he didn’t act like a 19-year old. Had you not been aware of his backstory, it’s likely that you would have thought Machado were a seasoned veteran.

With the O’s making a push towards the postseason in the second half of 2012, Machado received a surprise call-up from Manager Buck Showalter, skipping Triple-A Norfolk altogether.

While many saw the early-August call-up as a mistake, and that it could end up ruining the progress the now-20-year old Machado had made all season, it was clear that Machado would be able to adapt to the Major League level quickly.

Primarily a shortstop throughout high school and the minors, Buck switched the youngster to the hot corner upon his August 9, 2012 ML debut with the O’s. Considering J.J. Hardy was at short, and the inconsistency the Orioles had been experiencing at third base throughout the season, the move would be beneficial despite the risk involved.

In his 51 games to finish out the 2012 campaign, Machado made an impact in both the batter’s box and in the field. His glove, not his bat, may be what benefited the Orioles the most during the final stretch of the regular season. Wilson Betemit and Mark Reynolds struggled to stay consistent with their gloves while playing third, but Machado came in and made a near-flawless transition from short to third.

Not only did he handle the transition really well, but it also gave Baltimore an everyday third baseman. Prior to Machado’s call-up, Baltimore had started five different players at third––Reynolds, Betemit, Ryan Flaherty, Robert Andino and Steven Tolleson.

His 3 HRs and 7 RBIs in his first four starts in August gave O’s fans something to get excited about, and the energy he has brought with him to the Major League squad is priceless.

Machado struggled to produce at the plate in his six postseason games (3/19, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 6 Ks, .158 BA), but being able to shake off the nerves and put some postseason experience under his belt after his first season could prove vital down the road.

Entering his first full season in 2013, Machado has taken his game to a new level through the first three-plus months of the season. There’s been no signs of a sophomore slump for Manny, as he’s been selected to his first career AL All-Star team as a reserve.

Starting all 89 of Baltimore’s games at third base this season, Manny leads the majors in at bats (382), doubles (39) and is second in hits (119) behind Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera. In the American League, he leads in Defensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement) with 2.6, and his current .312 batting average is well above his career average in the minors.

Not known as a power hitter, Machado has just 13 career homers in his 606 plate appearances, yet he’s more valuable to this team than the rest of Baltimore’s lineup. Especially considering what the Orioles are currently paying him––obviously a contract extension could be in Machado’s near future. Perhaps the biggest adjustment made this season, aside from moving McLouth to lead-off, could be bumping Machado up to the 2-spot in the order. There’s a shot that Manny could push 80-90 runs batted in this season while batting ahead of Davis and Jones.

Manny’s production has been much more than what has been expected this early in his career, but the best part about his game is his play-making ability at the hot corner and the excitement and youth he brings to the clubhouse. You can expect more and more of this over the next decade, as he’s already drawn comparisons to a much-younger Alex Rodriguez––pre-Yankee days, of course.

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The Day Cal Ripken Saved Baseball

Posted on 06 July 2013 by Geoff Crawley

I used to love baseball.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it again now, but there was a time where I wanted nothing to do with it. When the owners decided that they were bigger than the game and actually cancelled the World Series in 1994 because of a collective bargaining dispute, I was done with it.

“I’m done with you baseball,” I said. “Never again. I’m done going to games, I’m done playing fantasy baseball, I’m done with it all.”

“Done,” I added.

And I was. Baseball was my favorite sport as a child. I watched games every chance I could. I played baseball in the street. (Kids used to actually do that.) It was my first love. Then, greedy owners took away the World Series. They cancelled the World Series!

Think about that for a second. Can you imagine the NFL being stupid enough to cancel the Super Bowl? Or the NBA being dumb enough to cancel the NBA Finals? Or the NHL…oh, wait, they did it too, but nobody noticed.

So in 1995, I decided that I was never watching another Major League Baseball game again. In fact, I would still be boycotting today if not for one man, on one fateful night.

That man is Cal Ripken, Jr.

The night was September 6, 1995. The night Cal Ripken, Jr. saved baseball.

It was on that night that the Orioles’ Hall of Fame shortstop broke the record that people said would never be broken: Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2130 consecutive games played. To put that in perspective, that is over THIRTEEN SEASONS of 162 games, spread out over six months per season, without missing a single one. That means, that for THIRTEEN SEASONS, Ripken never, not one time, got suspended for doing something stupid, never stayed out all night drinking and got scratched for “flu-like symptoms,” never even stubbed his toe and had to sit for a couple days.

He also, over the course of that streak, played so well that he needed to be in the lineup anyway. He was rookie of the year, two time American League MVP, and a two time Gold Glove award winner. The NINETEEN time All-Star won the All-Star game MVP twice as well, and won the Silver Slugger eight times during the streak.

Why would you ever take that kind of production out of the lineup anyway? You wouldn’t, that’s why he broke the record.

But this is not about Cal’s greatness, it’s about how he saved baseball for me. I hadn’t watched a game all year, but of course I was paying attention to this streak. It was historic. And so, on that September evening, I sat down to watch history, not baseball. My intent was to watch the game until it became official and then change the channel.

So I’m watching when Cal comes up to bat in the fourth inning and hits a home run. I had goose bumps. Then, when the game became official in the bottom of the fifth, the 2131 banner was unfurled in the outfield and the crowd erupted. The opposing team (the Angels), all of the umpires and the entire crowd stood, cheered and applauded for 22 minutes straight. It was during this ovation that it happened.

Cal Ripken, the ultimate team player, a guy who was never about himself, was practically pushed out of the dugout and told to do a lap around the field by his teammates. The crowd, somehow, got louder. As he circled the field, shaking hands with and high fiving fans, I noticed that I was crying.

This man, this incredible man, by simply acknowledging that we, the fans, are important, saved baseball for me. His going out there was totally against his character, because the last thing he ever wanted to do was to bring more attention to himself. He was all about the game. He remembered what the owners forgot the previous year, that this game, this wonderful game, is not about the money. It’s about going out there every day and trying your best for the fans that pay your salary. Cal Ripken was bigger than the game that night even if he didn’t want to acknowledge it. And he saved baseball.

It’s not the same for me, of course. It never will be. Baseball broke my heart in 1994, and it will never fully get it back. But I do love baseball again, and it started that night, as I watched Cal Ripken, Jr. remind us all what it means to love baseball. That game, that crowd, that run around the field – history itself – that is what baseball is all about.

Thanks for saving baseball, Cal.

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Nate McLouth

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Replacing Roberts: A Closer Look at the Combination of McLouth/Markakis at the Lead-off Spot

Posted on 06 July 2013 by benheck

It’s no secret that the lead-off man is one of the most important pieces to a baseball lineup, outside of the clean-up hitter. The lead-off man’s job is to get on base as often as possible, putting himself in position to score when the heart of the lineup comes to the plate. It’s also vital that the lead-off man possesses sufficient speed and base-running abilities.

The Baltimore Orioles have had a top-tier lead-off man in second baseman Brian Roberts for eight seasons before the now-35 year old’s career began to unravel due to injury.

Though he’s back in the line-up as designated hitter now, Roberts will never be what he once was for the Orioles. In his prime, Roberts would hit .300, score 100 runs, drive in 50 additional runs while stealing 40-50 bags and post a .370 on-base percentage. The two-time All-Star had a great glove at second to add on to his accomplishments with the cellar-dwelling Orioles in the mid-2000s.

Now that the Orioles are in playoff contention, Brian has struggled to consistently stay on the field and in the lineup. Thanks to a multitude of health issues over the past few seasons––including concussions and back problems––Roberts has played in a combined 123 games since the 2010 season.

Because of his health issues, the Orioles have struggled to find a viable replacement at the top of the batting order. Over the last four seasons, Baltimore has experimented with numerous different lead-off men, including but not limited to: Corey Patterson, Lou Montanez, Felix Pie, Adam Jones, Robert Andino, J.J. Hardy, Matt Angle, Nolan Reimold, Endy Chavez, Xavier Avery, Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth.

It wasn’t until last July 13 that the Orioles finally stuck with one player consistently in Roberts’ absence. Right fielder Nick Markakis, primarily a No. 3 hitter over his eight-year Major League Baseball career. At the top spot in the order for 54 consecutive games from July to the beginning of September, Baltimore posted a 33-21 record with Markakis posting a .335 average and .390 on-base percentage. In 246 plate appearances, Markakis scored 34 runs, drove in 28 more and posted a 20/14 BB-K ratio. Markakis didn’t steal any bases from the lead-off position, but did his job by getting on base and putting Baltimore in position to put runs on the board.

This all came just after returning from his first disabled list stint in his MLB career following surgery to remove part of the hamate bone in his right wrist. Unfortunately Baltimore was forced to switch lead-off batters once again when Markakis was lost for the season with a fractured thumb on September 8.

Manager Buck Showalter turned to another veteran to fill Markakis’ void in the lead-off slot, left fielder Nate McLouth.

Signed to a Minor League deal just a few months prior, McLouth was looking for one last chance at proving he still belongs in the majors. Buck didn’t hesitate to throw McLouth in there at lead-off following Markakis’ second injury, and it didn’t take long for him to get acclimated at the lead-off spot for the playoff-bound O’s. He started 22 of the final 23 games at left field, leading off, as the O’s posted a 15-8 record over that span.

Though his numbers didn’t quite compare to Markakis’ in 2012 as the lead-off man, McLouth’s bat and base-running down the stretch became a vital part in the postseason run. In six postseason games, McLouth hit .321 and stole three bases.

Heading into 2013, Showalter had a big decision to make: Markakis or McLouth? Who should get the coveted spot at the lead-off position? Being one of the most important spots in the line-up, right behind the clean-up spot, the decision could impact the team in the long run.

Instead of making a decision and sticking with it, Showalter has taken a bit of a different stance on the issue: sharing the lead-off spot between the two of them. Through July 5, Markakis has started 22 of his 85 games at lead-off (the rest of the time he hits third in the lineup) with McLouth hitting lead-off in 64 of his 76 games.

Though it’s not a 50/50 split, you’d still think it would be tough to switch up the line-up so often, rather than consistently sticking with one guy over the 162-game season. It could take away from the team chemistry in and around the clubhouse, and possibly effect the play of the two players.

Or so you’d think.

Instead, McLouth has become an even bigger piece to the 48-39 Baltimore squad, putting up a .289/.363/.411 line with a career-high 24 stolen bases. Overall this season, McLouth’s on-base percentage currently sits at .361, which is higher than he’s ever posted over his nine-year career with Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Baltimore.

Markakis is in the middle of a heated battle with Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista in the American League All-Star voting. Whether Markakis gets to take a trip to his first-career All-Star game this season or not will not take away from the success he’s had in 2013. After a rough season injury-wise in 2012, Markakis appears to be as healthy as ever over his 85 games. The left-handed 29-year old is hitting .291 with 52 runs and 43 runs batted in. Though his on-base percentage is rather low compared to the rest of his career (.339; his career OBP is .363), he’s elevated his game in the lead-off spot in the line-up.

Over his 22 starts and 102 plate appearances at the No. 1 spot in the Baltimore lineup, Markakis is hitting .351 with 12 runs and a .373 on-base percentage, which is well-above his career OBP. He hasn’t been stealing bases––in fact he hasn’t stolen a single one all season––but that’s the good thing about the lead-off spot: you don’t need to steal bases. Clearly Roberts did over his Baltimore career, including 50 in a single-season, but stolen bases from your lead-off man is just a bonus. What you need from the first batter is the ability to get on-base, run the bases cleanly and score runs.

That’s why McLouth has been such a commodity this season––he gets on-base, runs the bases superbly, including stealing 24 bags, and puts runs across the plate. Though it’s not what Roberts was in his prime, the combination of Markakis and McLouth at the No. 1 spot in the order has been refreshing and very effective for Buck’s Birds.

McLouth provides the walks and the speed on the base paths while Markakis provides Baltimore with the average and runs batted in. It can be a deadly combination, for teams to be forced to face two different lead-off men in the same series, especially given their different strengths.

It may not be quite the same as Roberts’ 2007 season in which he batted in 57, scored 103 runs, hit 42 two-baggers, stole 50 bases all while hitting .290 over his 156 games. But the McLouth/Markakis duo at the lead-off position is working for Baltimore, and has kept them alive in the hunt for the AL East division in 2012 and 2013 thus far.

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Orioles reinstate Gonzalez from paternity list, send Pearce to DL

Posted on 21 June 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

With right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez rejoining the club after the birth of his first child earlier this week, the Orioles have placed reserve outfielder Steve Pearce on the 15-day disabled list with left wrist tendinitis.

Gonzalez was placed on the paternity leave list earlier in the week, which created a roster spot for first baseman Travis Ishikawa but created a logjam that led to Pearce being sent to the DL. Like Ishikawa, Pearce could not be sent to the minor leagues without being designated for assignment and clearing waivers.

Pearce’s playing time has steadily declined since right-handed hitter Danny Valencia was recalled last month, and he received only four starts this month. He is hitting .235 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 90 plate appearances this season.

With outfielder Nolan Reimold continuing a minor-league rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie, the Orioles have another roster decision looming when the 29-year-old is ready to return. The Orioles continue to look for a trade partner for Ishikawa, but Reimold’s return would also leave Pearce’s long-term status in question as Valencia has emerged to serve as the regular designated hitter against left-handed starters.

Gonzalez and his wife welcomed daughter Leah to the world on Monday night, and the 29-year-old is scheduled to pitch on Saturday against the Blue Jays. He is 5-2 with a 3.75 earned run average in 12 starts this season.

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Laboring Orioles trying to shorten chain to late innings

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Laboring Orioles trying to shorten chain to late innings

Posted on 20 May 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — Trying to stop a five-game losing streak on Monday with the surging New York Yankees coming to town for a three-game series isn’t the easiest of chores, but the Orioles know it begins with their starting pitching to right themselves in the American League East.

Every starter not named Chris Tillman is either injured or struggling, but the Orioles must find a way to shorten the chain to the end of the game, evident by the heavy workloads of their top relief pitchers and back-to-back blown saves by closer Jim Johnson. Baltimore entered Monday’s game with the 25th-ranked starting earned run average (4.90) in the majors and had averaged just 5.64 innings per start. In comparison, the St. Louis Cardinals have the best starting ERA (2.63) in baseball and average 6.43 innings per outing.

The starting pitching needs to improve for a club with postseason aspirations and intentions of preserving its biggest asset — the bullpen — for the entire season.

“That falls underneath the ‘Capt. Obvious’ thing,’” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s one thing to identify it; it’s how you do it. Pitch better.”

As of now, the Orioles have few answers with Tillman the only reliable commodity currently in the rotation. Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez returns Tuesday from a stint on the 15-day disabled list due to a blister on his right thumb, but lefty Wei-Yin Chen will just be leaving for Sarasota on Tuesday to begin his rehabilitation. Showalter didn’t paint a rosy picture on Monday that Chen would be returning in a timely fashion.

Stricken with a Grade 2 right oblique strain, Chen is at least a week away from picking up a baseball as his type of injury is a tricky one from which to recover. Setbacks are frequent with oblique injuries as you never really know how well a pitcher is recovering before he starts trying to throw again.

“I couldn’t tell you that he’s making any great progress,” Showalter said. “He’s still sore, but he’s doing some things as far as sleeping through the night and rolling over where it’s not bothering him like it was. But I don’t think there’s some definitive date. There’s an unknown to it.”

When Chen and Gonzalez dealing with injuries this month, the Orioles have been forced to turn to veteran Freddy Garcia and former Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens to stabilize the back end of the rotation. Speculation persists that Garcia could be reaching the end of his run with the Orioles after turning in poor outings against Kansas City and San Diego to follow up his surprising debut in Anaheim at the beginning of the month.

Jurrjens figures to receive at least a couple more starts after allowing four earned runs in five innings in his 2013 debut against Tampa Bay over the weekend, but the Orioles appear close to moving on in their quest for rotation stability.

Recalled over the weekend to serve as an extra arm in the bullpen, Jake Arrieta is not in line to receive a start and could be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Gonzalez on Tuesday. However, another pitcher in the Baltimore bullpen could be next in line for a shot in the rotation.

Left-hander T.J. McFarland turned in a scoreless performance over 2 1/3 innings to keep the Orioles within two runs of the Rays on Sunday, and Showalter acknowledged prior to the start of the Yankees series that the 23-year-old Rule 5 selection has been considered as a starting option.

“He was impressive again yesterday,” Showalter said. “I’m real proud of our scouting department. So far, so good with him. He’s a guy we’ve thought about starting, too, but right now it’s Freddy and Jair.”

McFarland has a 2.61 ERA in 20 2/3 innings over 10 appearances. The lefty has allowed 23 hits, struck out 22, and walked seven coming out of the bullpen.

Gonzalez chomping at bit

The Orioles will welcome the Tuesday return of Gonzalez, who hasn’t pitched since leaving his start in Anaheim early with a blister on his thumb on May 3.

Sporting a 2-2 record with a 4.58 ERA in six starts this season, a healthy Gonzalez would help soothe the rotation concerns if he can look more like the pitcher who went 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 games (15 starts) last season. The 28-year-old threw briefly on Sunday just to work on the spin of his curveball and feels confident after throwing roughly 80 pitches in completing a simulated game on Friday.

“I’ve been telling the guys it was frustrating not being able to be out there because of a blister,” Gonzalez said. “You know, it’s not an injury, but you just have to wait and heal.”

The right-hander said he shouldn’t be limited to any limited pitch count and would be able to throw 100 or more pitches if necessary on Tuesday night.

Hardy moving up

Shortstop J.J. Hardy saw his 13-game hitting streak come to an end on Sunday, but his .360 average that includes five home runs and 10 RBIs since May 3 hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Hardy was elevated to the No. 3 spot in the order against left-hander CC Sabathia on Monday night, but that was also the result of his numbers against the burly Yankees starter. The 30-year-old entered the game with a .321 career average against Sabathia with one homer and five RBIs.

Showalter was looking for any edge he could get against Sabathia, who held a 10-3 career mark with a 3.38 ERA in 15 career games at Camden Yards prior to Monday’s game.

“It’s hard to find anybody that’s had some success against certain guys,” Showalter said. “This just fits a little bit better for us [Monday night].”

Minor-league additions

According to Baseball America, the Orioles signed catcher Ronny Paulino and right-handed pitcher Austin Urban to minor-league contracts.

Paulino was released by the Seattle Mariners on March 30 while the Chicago Cubs released Urban on March 12.

Of course, the 32-year-old Paulino served as the Orioles’ backup catcher for a good portion of the first half of last season, hitting .254 in 63 at-bats and appearing in 20 games.

 

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Jurrjens looking to bring innings, experience to Orioles rotation

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Jurrjens looking to bring innings, experience to Orioles rotation

Posted on 17 May 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — Poised to become the Orioles’ 10th starting pitcher of the 2013 season, right-hander Jair Jurrjens isn’t treating Saturday’s debut against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Of course, that’s easier said than done after the Orioles cycled through Josh Stinson, Zach Britton, and Steve Johnson with each receiving one start and promptly being optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk after subpar performances. Among the four pitchers summoned to replace Jake Arrieta and the injured Miguel Gonzalez from the Opening Day rotation, only the 36-year-old Freddy Garcia — who can’t be optioned to the minors — has remained with the club beyond his first start.

Arriving in the Baltimore clubhouse Friday afternoon, Jurrjens expressed his gratitude for finally receiving the call after eight starts with the Tides, but he has 125 career starts and a 3.62 career ERA in the majors on his side to cope with any potential anxiety. Whether that means he’ll receive a longer leash remains to be seen as he can be optioned back to Norfolk should the Orioles not like what they see and need immediate bullpen help as a result.

“This is not my first time pitching in the big leagues,” said Jurrjens, who was 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA. “I am just going to take it as another game and try to eat innings and give the team the best performance I can.”

Jurrjens owned an opt-out clause in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent had he not been promoted to the big leagues by June 15, but that doesn’t prevent him from being optioned after making it to the 25-man roster. Of course, the Orioles entered Friday with just three starters in their current rotation and would like to see someone emerge as their fifth starter in addition to the anticipated Tuesday return of Gonzalez from the DL to ease concerns with the starting pitching.

The lingering concerns about Jurrjens’ knee over the last couple years are a thing of the past as strengthening exercises and his ability to repeat his mechanics have left him feeling better than he has in a few years, according to the pitcher. Questions about Jurrjens’ medical records delayed his signing with the Orioles this winter before executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette eventually inked the 2011 National League All-Star to a minor-league contract that included an invitation to spring training.

One of the most concerning aspects of Jurrjens’ decline from an All-Star pitcher to one with a 6.89 ERA who spent time in the minor leagues was the decline in velocity. The Curacao native saw his average fastball velocity dip from just above 91 miles per hour in 2010 to just about 88.5 mph last season.

Jurrjens features a fastball, sinker, slider, and changeup in his arsenal and carries a 53-37 record in his six-year career spent mostly with the Atlanta Braves. He will wear No. 49 with the Orioles.

“If the command is there, he’ll give us a chance to win,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s been a long journey for him. I don’t know if anxiety is the word, but he’ll have some [jitters]. He’s done this before. I think a lot of people miss — I know I did originally — how young he is. I’m anxious to see.”

In 51 2/3 innings, Jurrjens walked only 15 batters while striking out 36 and allowing 44 hits. The control hasn’t been an issue and his strikeout rate of 6.3 per nine innings is more than acceptable, but both Jurrjens and Showalter didn’t mention improvement in the pitcher’s velocity when asked about his progress.

As is the case with any pitcher promoted from Triple A to the big leagues, there will be questions whether his repertoire that worked against International League hitters will translate to success at the next level.

“It can be difficult [knowing], because down there, some guys just go up there and swing,” said Jurrjens, who claimed he hasn’t paid close attention to his velocity so far this season. “Here, some guys are more patient and they look for one pitch to hit.”

Gonzalez on Tuesday track

Gonzalez completed his simulated game at Camden Yards without any problems on Friday afternoon.

Showalter said prior to Friday’s game that the right-hander remains an option for Monday, but the club is leaning toward a Tuesday return from the 15-day disabled list for the 28-year-old. Gonzalez has been dealing with a nasty blister on his right thumb since the beginning of the month and is eligible to be activated from the DL on Sunday.

“You look at his face as much as you do his thumb,” Showalter said. “He feels good about it. I don’t expect something else to crop up. He did it today without the bandage on.”

Gonzalez threw roughly 50 pitches against several teammates after throwing 25 in the bullpen and was able to throw his entire array of pitches.

Roster move coming

The Orioles must make a roster move to add Jurrjens to the 40-man roster as well as to clear room on the active roster prior to his Saturday start.

Showalter said the club has a few different options in mind, with extra reliever Alex Burnett and infielder Yamaico Navarro assumed to be the most likely candidates. However, Navarro was in the lineup for Friday night’s game as Showalter said the 25-year-old deserved a look at second base. The organization likes Navarro’s bat, but there are some questions about his defense.

Navarro was hitting .303 in 147 plate appearances for the Tides, leading some to wonder whether struggling second baseman Ryan Flaherty might be the player to go on Saturday. Flaherty is hitting only .133 in 102 plate appearances and has struck out 26 times.

Playing 29 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, Navarro was acquired in exchange for pitcher Jhondaniel Medina on Nov. 30, 2012.

Injury updates

The Orioles announced Friday that catcher Taylor Teagarden (dislocated left thumb) had his splint removed.

Infielder Wilson Betemit began jogging in the pool as he continues his recovery in Sarasota from a Grade 2/3 PCL tear in his right knee. He remains on the 60-day DL and Showalter expressed hope earlier this week that he could return at some point in June.

 

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Orioles minor league recap – 4/29

Posted on 30 April 2013 by WNST Staff

Here’s what happened down in the Orioles’ farm system on Monday…

* Danny Valencia, Russ Canzler, and Jason Pridie each went deep as Triple-A Norfolk won a 6-5 final over Toledo in 11

* Eddie Gamboa struggled over 6 2/3 innings as Double-A Bowie lost a 7-6 final to Richmond

* Single-A Frederick’s game against Myrtle Beach was postponed due to rain

* Parker Bridwell and Mark Blackmar made starts as Single-A Delmarva split a doubleheader with Greenville

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