Tag Archive | "Buck Showalter"

Orioles option Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk to add bullpen help

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Orioles option Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk to add bullpen help

Posted on 21 June 2014 by Luke Jones

As if the sting of Carlos Beltran’s walk-off home run weren’t enough on Friday night, the Orioles raised eyebrows with the decision to option right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk following the heartbreaking 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees.

Manager Buck Showalter needed another bullpen arm after long man T.J. McFarland pitched two innings in the series-opening contest at Yankee Stadium, and the Orioles recalled right-handed pitcher Brad Brach from Triple-A Norfolk to take Gausman’s spot on the 25-man roster prior to Saturday’s game. Brach has posted a 5.40 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with the Orioles this season.

The Orioles have been going with a six-man bullpen since they began using a six-man rotation, which necessitated the need to temporarily take a starting pitcher off the roster.

The good news is that the impressive 23-year-old shouldn’t be be gone for long as the Orioles can bring back Gausman as their 26th man for the split doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays next Friday. This essentially means the only consequence for sending him down is moving his next scheduled start from Wednesday to Friday with an off-day between those games.

Since being recalled on June 7, Gausman is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three starts spanning 19 innings. The decision isn’t ideal with the current six-man rotation already providing extra rest to starters, but there’s no logical reason to believe the Orioles wouldn’t bring him back for next Friday’s start.

Of course, the Orioles can only hope they haven’t messed with the 2012 first-round pick’s good vibes as Gausman would be making his next start on eight days’ rest if he is in fact recalled next Friday.

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Wieters to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery

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Wieters to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery

Posted on 16 June 2014 by Luke Jones

What was feared for more than a month became official Monday as the Orioles announced All-Star catcher Matt Wieters will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the 2014 season.

The club said Monday that the estimated recovery period will be nine months, which would put him on track to start the 2015 season on time. Renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform the ulnar collateral reconstruction surgery on Wieters’ right elbow on Tuesday afternoon after the 28-year-old catcher had his follow-up appointment on Monday.

The recovery time for Tommy John surgery isn’t as long for a position player as it is for a pitcher, but there haven’t been a great number of catchers to undergo the surgical procedure at the major league level. Sports injury expert Will Carroll of Bleacher Report believes it will be difficult to expect Wieters to be ready to catch by the start of next season.

“Normally, we see that it’s nine to 12 months, 10 to 12 months for a pitcher,” Carroll said on AM 1570 WNST Monday morning. “For position players, we say six to eight [months], but even that’s a little aggressive, especially with a catcher who has to make certainly not as many throws as a pitcher but long throws, off-balance throws.

“I’ve talked to some doctors and they say, ‘Honestly, treat him like a pitcher.’ I think it’s a little less than that. I would say you’re looking at nine or 10 months, maybe as many as 12. Opening Day is going to be really tight, even on the low end.”

Though the news was not unexpected after manager Buck Showalter revealed last week that Wieters was not progressing as quickly as he’d hoped in his throwing program, the loss of one of the best catchers in baseball is a major blow for the Orioles, who have leaned on the trio of Caleb Joseph, Nick Hundley, and Steve Clevenger in Wieters’ absence. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 11 and hadn’t caught in a game since May 4.

Wieters was leading American League All-Star voting at the catcher position and was off to arguably the best offensive start of his career, hitting .308 with five home runs and 18 runs batted in in 104 at-bats. However, the two-time Gold Glove winner’s elbow discomfort was apparent in his work behind the plate as he was only 1-for-12 throwing out runners attempting to steal, down from his career mark of 33 percent.

Joseph has been praised for his defensive work as Orioles pitchers sport a 2.85 ERA when he’s catching, but the rookie is hitting only .130 in 54 at-bats while Hundley, acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres late last month, is batting just .147. Clevenger was hitting .243 at the time of his late-May demotion and has been red hot at the plate at Triple-A Norfolk ever since, but the Orioles weren’t thrilled with his work behind the dish.

Baltimore has pitched to a 4.92 ERA with Hundley catching and 4.85 when Clevenger was back there earlier in the season. For what it’s worth, Orioles pitchers sported a 3.88 ERA when Wieters was behind the plate this season.

“We’ve got some things to pick from. That’s really been a challenge for us in the last few years,” Showalter said on Friday. “We always said, ‘What if Matt [gets hurt]? What are we going to do?’ Well, here we are. I hope that we get some good news on Monday, but you better prepare like you’re not.”

Wieters is eligible to become a free agent after the 2015 season.

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“It could be worse” shaping into 2014 theme for Orioles

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“It could be worse” shaping into 2014 theme for Orioles

Posted on 15 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The theme of the 2014 season has begun taking shape through the first 68 games as the Orioles stand at 35-33 and 4 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East.

It could be worse. 

A 5-5 homestand doesn’t sound too devastating when acknowledging seven of those contests came against the two best teams in the AL, but it feels very underwhelming when the Orioles’ normally-maligned rotation provided nine quality starts against Oakland, Boston, and Toronto. A 5-2 loss on Sunday prevented Baltimore from taking three of four from the first-place Blue Jays despite a fourth straight quality start against an offense entering Sunday ranked second in runs and first in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) in the league.

No, they didn’t lose any ground to the first-place club in the division and remain firmly in the race in an underwhelming AL East, but the weekend and the homestand could have been better. The Orioles were electing to focus on the positive after Sunday’s loss.

“Not frustrating,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “They’re a good team. We could have gotten swept; we could have swept them. Look at the bright side — we got two out of four. Now, let’s go on the road and start the series off right [Monday] in Tampa.”

The loss came at the hands of Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, who entered Sunday with a 4.37 ERA after giving up 12 earned runs in his previous three starts. The Orioles were held to a meager 29 runs over these last 10 games, with the high point of frustration coming in the Red Sox series when they allowed just one run total but still couldn’t complete a three-game sweep.

Any offense will go through its peaks and valleys over the course of a 162-game schedule, but the Orioles just haven’t been able to put it together. When they’re clicking offensively, the pitching has gone down the tubes, and the Orioles’ better stretches of pitching have come when the lineup struggles as it did during the second-longest homestand of the year.

Of course, the pitching issues were expected this season, but the Orioles entered Sunday ranked ninth in the AL in runs scored. The offensive inconsistency is that much more frustrating when they enter a rare stretch in which the starting pitching thrives.

“If you go through a little spell and you’re not swinging the bats well, your pitching allows you to stay competitive to that point,” manager Buck Showalter said. “So, it just depends how you want to look at it, but you’d like to have both of them clicking. But we haven’t been able to do that consistently yet.”

The silver lining in Sunday’s loss was the performance of right-hander Chris Tillman, who turned in his second straight quality start after a disastrous one-inning start in Texas on June 4 that had everyone questioning his status in the rotation. Both Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez have disappointed through the first 2 1/2 months of the season, but the rest of the rotation has pitched well recently, including 23-year-old Kevin Gausman after his latest promotion.

Even with others pitching well, the Orioles need Tillman to regain his 2013 All-Star form and can only hope his 13 innings of work during the homestand are steps in the right direction despite the two losses. Against Toronto on Sunday, he allowed three earned runs over seven innings, his longest outing since his complete-game shutout in Kansas City on May 16.

“We’re getting somewhere. Starting to feel like my old self,” said Tillman, who didn’t record any strikeouts or walks against the Blue Jays. “Making better pitches and feeling confident in the ability to make a pitch. Command the strike zone, that’s big. Made some big pitches at times, but also left some balls up.”

The Orioles’ long list of issues and misfortunes have been repeated over and over this year.

Catcher Matt Wieters will visit Dr. James Andrews for a second time on Monday and may officially learn he will need season-ending elbow surgery.

First baseman Chris Davis is on pace to hit roughly half the number of home runs he hit last year and shortstop J.J. Hardy is still looking for his first long ball of the season in the middle of June.

Third baseman Manny Machado has been a mess at the plate and fetched a five-game suspension for his embarrassing bat-throwing incident last weekend.

And Tillman and Jimenez have been the rotation’s worst two pitchers after being identified as the duo to lead the staff back to the postseason. The Orioles entered Sunday ranking 11th in starter ERA and sixth in bullpen ERA in the AL.

Still, the Orioles remain within striking distance and show no evidence of dropping out of the race anytime soon in such an underwhelming division. The problem is they’re not displaying any signs of being on the verge of snapping off an extended winning streak to stake their claim to the top of the division, either.

As we enter the second half of June, the Orioles have offered a vibe similar to last season — three steps forward, two steps back, two steps forward, three steps back.

Decent, but not good enough.

“It’s the game of baseball. Frustration is every day,” Jones said. “But that’s how the cookie crumbles. You can’t dwell on things. If you’re put in the situation, try and succeed. If you don’t, wait for another opportunity.”

Other opportunities will come, but you can’t help but feel the Orioles missed one over these last 10 games.

Yes, it could’ve been worse.

But it could have been better.

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Orioles hoping for best, bracing for worst with Wieters’ follow-up appointment

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Orioles hoping for best, bracing for worst with Wieters’ follow-up appointment

Posted on 13 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Matt Wieters is scheduled to make his follow-up visit to Dr. James Andrews on Monday while the Orioles hope for the best and prepare for the worst regarding their injured catcher.

On the 15-day disabled list with right elbow soreness since May 11, Wieters hasn’t progressed as well as he’d hoped since beginning a throwing program two weeks ago and faces the prospects of needing season-ending surgery to correct the problem. The Orioles have laid out July 1 as the deadline for Wieters to go under the knife without missing any time at the start of the 2015 season with a normal rehabilitation scheduled.

Manager Buck Showalter wasn’t about to reveal his gut feeling about how Wieters’ appointment will go with the renowned orthopedic surgeon but didn’t paint a rosy picture about the two-time All-Star catcher’s status for the rest of the 2014 season.

“It’s another one of those where I know a little more than I’m going to talk about,” Showalter said. “I don’t want to say something that’s not honest. He’s still got a chance. I think we’re all curious to see what Dr. Andrews is going to say. We’ve got it set up both ways. He’ll [either] be returning to us and get right back into his program or we can proceed with the other option, which I have trouble saying out loud. There’s only really two options here.”

In Wieters’ absence, the Orioles have used the trio of Nick Hundley, Caleb Joseph, and Steve Clevenger behind the plate. Acquired from the San Diego Padres on May 24, Hundley initially looked like he’d be the starting catcher for the foreseeable future, but Joseph made his fourth start in the club’s last five games on Friday night.

Clevenger has hit .455 in 44 at-bats since being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, but his less-than-stellar defense was a deciding factor behind his demotion.

Showalter was amused when asked by a reporter if he was satisfied with his current options behind the plate should Wieters’ appointment bring bad news from Gulf Breeze, Fla. on Monday.

“What am I supposed to say, no?” Showalter said. “‘By God, Dan [Duquette] better go get an All-Star catcher right away just like Matt.’ I am [comfortable]. I think they’ve done a good job all things considered. We’ve tried real hard to create some depth here catching.

“We’ve got some things to pick from. That’s really been a challenge for us in the last few years. We always said, ‘What if Matt [gets hurt]? What are we going to do?’ Well, here we are. I hope that we get some good news on Monday, but you better prepare like you’re not.”

Machado appeal date not imminent

Showalter and the Orioles know the date that third baseman Manny Machado’s appeal will be heard on a five-game suspension stemming from the bat-throwing incident against the Oakland Athletics, but the organization is not commenting.

The manager only said that it isn’t imminent and that the 21-year-old will be available for the remainder of the weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Many have speculated that Machado’s appeal could be heard when the Orioles arrive in the Bronx to take on the New York Yankees next weekend, but that’s not a guarantee.

The club will need to add a backup infielder to the mix when Machado’s suspension begins with the assumption that Ryan Flaherty will handle third-base duties. This means Showalter will only have 11 pitchers at his disposal with Machado still counting against the 25-man roster while he serves his penalty.

“It’s not like you can pick the date and take the suspension,” Showalter said. “‘OK, he’s suspended and we’ll take it in September.’ You can’t do that. That’s not the way it’s designed. Once they render a decision, it’s right away. If you look at the precedent for situations like this, we feel like and Manny feels like [five games is a] little strong.”

Rotation still not set for Tampa Bay series

Lefty Wei-Yin Chen will pitch the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, but Showalter wasn’t prepared to name his starters for Games 2 and 3 on Friday afternoon.

“I think after [Friday night], I’ll be able to give you [scheduled starters for] Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Showalter. “No, probably [Saturday].”

Many are clamoring for both Kevin Gausman and Miguel Gonzalez — who is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Sunday — to remain in the rotation while questioning the status of Ubaldo Jimenez, who entered his Friday start with a 5.01 ERA in 13 outings this season. Of course, the $50 million investment the Orioles made in him this offseason provides a longer leash, but a club aiming to win now may want to consider a temporary shift to the bullpen or a trip to the disabled list for the struggling right-hander if his fortunes don’t improve quickly.

Tough day for knuckleballers

Norfolk knuckleball pitcher Eddie Gamboa was suspended for 50 games on Friday for testing positive for exogenous testosterone. His suspension begins immediately after he began the season 4-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 14 games (12 starts).

“I know some people are going to make comments about a knuckleball guy and the connection with whatever,” Showalter said. “They’re missing the point on why. Obviously, I know a lot more about why and looking into it. He was on the radar here, so it’s unfortunate.”

Another converted knuckleball pitcher in the organization received bad news on Friday as UMBC product Zach Clark was released.

 

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Gausman’s upside too good to pass up for Orioles rotation

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Gausman’s upside too good to pass up for Orioles rotation

Posted on 13 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Buck Showalter wasn’t ready to commit to a decision, but he had to know the truth following a series-opening 4-2 win over the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays.

Following a second straight quality start and an impressive six-inning performance over another first-place team, 23-year-old right-hander Kevin Gausman deserves to remain in the rotation — at least, for now. Sure, the details might be a little foggy at the moment with Miguel Gonzalez — who turned in four straight quality starts before suffering an oblique strain — slated to return from the 15-day disabled list early next week, but Gausman’s upside is too much to overlook as the Orioles closed the gap to 3 1/2 games in the AL East on Thursday night.

“He’s done what it takes to be considered,” Showalter said. “He’s taking care of his end of it. And the good news for us is we’ve got some other people capable of pitching well, too. … ‘Gaus’ has pitched well in his two outings. I hope he’s starting to grasp what it takes to consistently help this team win.”

Pitching well against average opponents is one thing, but Gausman held Oakland and Toronto — two of the best offenses in the major leagues — to two runs in 13 innings to earn his first two wins as a major league starter. After being selected with the fourth overall pick of the 2012 draft, Gausman is starting to provide major-league substance to go along with the sizzle of a high-90s fastball that caused many to project him as a future ace coming out of Louisiana State University.

Already possessing a plus fastball and an impressive split changeup, Gausman has credited the development of two additional pitches in his repertoire to make himself a more viable option as a major league starter. Those pitches have been on display in his two outings since replacing Gonzalez in the starting rotation last week.

“I didn’t throw a circle change until I got to the big leagues last year, and I think it’s one of my better pitches now,” said Gausman, who relied on the pitch even more than his splitter on Thursday night. “My slider has gotten better as the year has gone on. It’s tremendously better than last year.”

The problem for Showalter is figuring out exactly how to handle his starting rotation. He’s spent the last few days downplaying the discussion of a six-man rotation that started last week before the season-ending Achilles injury suffered by veteran Johan Santana, but that always remains a distinct possibility.

Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, and Bud Norris are currently pitching too well to remove from the rotation, and the Orioles remain hopeful that 2013 All-Star selection Chris Tillman will build on his most-recent start against Boston to eventually regain his form from the last two seasons. That leaves right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and the $50 million contract he signed during spring training.

His 5.01 ERA is the worst among the five starters as Jimenez is coming off his worst start of the season in a disastrous 11-1 loss to Oakland on Sunday. Of course, the Orioles should have known that Jimenez wasn’t a model of consistency when they signed him to a four-year deal but recognized his upside of being able to dominate when his unorthodox mechanics are in check.

Would the organization consider temporarily shifting him to the bullpen or attempt to find a physical concern to put him on the DL to give him time to revamp his mechanics? It’s difficult to say after the Orioles made the biggest long-term commitment to a pitcher in franchise history just a few months ago.

Still, the questions about how to accommodate Gausman should not overshadow what he could bring to the rotation over the final 3 1/2 months of the season as the Orioles try to advance to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. A simple assessment from one of the best hitters in a tough Athletics lineup told everything you need to know about the pitcher’s ability after he held Oakland to one run in seven innings last Saturday night.

That included a dominating sequence in which he struck out Josh Donaldson on an 85 mph splitter and Brandon Moss on a 99 mph fastball to leave runners stranded on second and third in the sixth. It was a big-boy performance in which a starter shows that rare ability to reach a new level late in an outing.

And it left one of the best offenses in the majors thoroughly impressed.

“I got to home plate in my first at-bat and I looked at [the catcher] and said, ‘How is that guy in Triple A?’” said Moss, who has 16 home runs and 53 runs batted in this season. “From what I understand, he’s had some command issues [in the past] and stuff like that. The way he pitched [Saturday] night was the best stuff we’ve seen all year.

“The first at-bat, you could tell he had [velocity], but you never know how that’s going to go. We can adapt to that. But the second and third at-bats, he started to mix in off-speed for strikes and balls and keeping it down. And then he had 99 in the tank when he had to hump up. You’re going to run into guys like that every now and then. We tried to battle.”

The Orioles must use a similar line of thinking with Gausman to what they did upon signing Jimenez to a four-year contract in focusing on the upside. The jury’s still out on whether the Jimenez contract will prove to be a wise one, but the goal of finding a pitcher who can dominate for important stretches of time — such as in a September pennant race or in a tight five- or seven-game series in October — should make it an easy decision to keep Gausman around for now.

If he regresses or proves incapable of building upon what he did against Oakland and Toronto, you can always send him back to Triple-A Norfolk. At the very least, Gausman deserves the chance to prove he doesn’t belong in the majors after these two starts that suggested the very opposite.

Perhaps he can be that missing piece that Showalter wasn’t necessarily depending on at the beginning of the season but will ultimately need. The Orioles manager would certainly take it if Gausman is ready to become that guy.

“Every team, to get where you want to get at the end of the season, the last team standing, if you look back at the characteristics of all of those teams, something that they weren’t particularly counting on appeared on the scene and was a big difference-maker. Kevin has the possibility of being that, but he’s going to need a lot of help.”

First, he needs the chance to do it.

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Machado 6-7

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Orioles Have Issues

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Tom Federline

A little over one-third of the way in and this current Oriole team is no playoff contender. At this stage in the game, it does not even look like either of the two wild cards are going to come out of the east division. Don’t get me started on the TWO (2) wild card teams and one game winner-take all scenario. That is bogus! For future (and from a past) blog – I say 142 game season (players salaries adjusted/decreased), season is from mid-April to mid-September, 3 division winners/ 1 wild card, 3 out of 5 Division series, 3 out of 5 Championship series, 4 out of 7 World Series. Season over by 2nd week of October. Ok enough, had to get that out there. Bottom line – O’s at current rate there will be no October ball anyway.

Oriole Issues - challenged starting pitching, questionable middle relief, no closer threat (yet), minimal clutch hitting, to many men left on base, increased errors, no catcher and lack of team discipline. All that and they are in second place of the American League East with a 31 – 30 record. To put in perspective -that is the 7th best record out of 15 teams in the American League and 14th out of 30, in both leagues. It is amazing they have been able to hold on as long as they have, considering the inflated pitching ERA and loss of their major signal caller and part backbone of the team (Wieters).

I see a team not focused. Next time you’re at the Yards, check out the dugout, during and in between innings. Buck-Buck does NOT have a handle on the boys. There should be a rule – ‘No one goes down the tunnel unless you are due up and require warm-ups for your at-bat. No buffet snacking during game. No video games. Just stay out of the tunnel and all it’s amenities.” Watch game, with teammates, on bench. That should not be tough requirement for the over-paid, spoiled, self-indulged roster players. Buck-Buck should remind them of their hourly rate.

I see a major bust in Jimenez. BTW – nice move Orioles magazine editor – putting Ubaldo-more on the cover of the first Oriole magazine this year. See blog from Opening Day – “Play Ball”.  One, maybe two decent games? He’s 2 -7 with a 5.01 ERA. Yeah, there’s a #2 starter for ya. “O” wait-a-minute, that’s right the weather has to warm up in order for him to perform at a comfortable level. Hmmm – seemed pretty warm to me for about a month now.

I saw a youngster breakdown and act his age this past weekend. Well, actually the over-paid, spoiled, self-indulged “star-in-the-making” acted more like a 10 year old. Team discipline? Manny-O-Manny, did you need your Mommy this weekend? Over -reaction on Friday night. Whined all weekend. Lackluster performance on his Bobblehead night annnnnnnnnd thennnnnnnn, yesterdays throwing of the bat. Fine him, suspend him, send him to his room with no snack before bed time. Maybe he was just miffed that they used a JJ Hardy look-a-like bobblehead instead of using the picture of himself he has hanging above his bed as the model.

Whatever the case, Machado still has some growing up to do. Ok, he’s still young, he will be 22 in July. Nope, not buying that one either. He needs a mentor. He needs a taste of Humble Pie.  He needs a butt kicking. He also needs to be put in the 6th hole and out of the #2 spot. He’s an inning killer. In particular, the first inning. Markakis is rolling at that top spot and it’s getting wasted. This is a case for Buck-Buck, Jones or Markakis to take control in the clubhouse. Actually, it’s a job for his parental units. Enough of that embarrassing situation.

The team appears in disarray at the moment. The boys holding this thing together are: Markakis, Jones, Cruuuuuz (until they pop him for juicy juice again) and Hardy. Pitching: Thank you Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris and Zach Britton – saving graces. Wieters being out – hurts offensively and defensively. The captain on the field is out and it shows. If the Orioles stay at current pace, it’s going to be a frustrating year. It’s time for Buck-Buck to “Whip It” – Devo. And whip it good! Get the boys back on track. How about one step at a time – just beat the Bosox!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

 

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Wieters to see Dr. Andrews next week after slow progress with elbow

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Wieters to see Dr. Andrews next week after slow progress with elbow

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With Monday’s discussion centering around a potential suspension for third baseman Manny Machado, the Orioles received not-so-encouraging news regarding the future of catcher Matt Wieters.

Manager Buck Showalter confirmed the 28-year-old is expected to see renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews for a follow-up appointment next Monday to reevaluate the status of his sore right elbow. Wieters began a throwing progression on May 30 but is still experiencing discomfort in his elbow, which could result in him electing to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.

“He probably hasn’t as progressed as quickly as Matt had hoped it would, but it hasn’t been any setback or anything,” Showalter said. “I think he just wants to get from Dr. Andrews where he thinks he is and let him see it again. It wasn’t per se scheduled, but I think it’s something Matt would like to do just to make sure that he agrees with where he is and the way we’re proceeding.”

Wieters completed his latest throwing session on Monday, which was one of his best since he was cleared to throw. The Orioles have discussed July 1 as the point when a decision would need to be made about undergoing surgery to make sure the two-time All-Star catcher would be ready for the start of the 2015 season, the final year he is under team control before hitting free agency.

The Orioles placed Wieters on the 15-day disabled list on May 11 and hasn’t caught in a game since May 4. The trio of Caleb Joseph, Steve Clevenger, and the recently-acquired Nick Hundley have filled in behind the plate in Wieters’ absence.

“I’m still holding out hope that we get something accomplished and Dr. Andrews says, ‘This is so; let’s continue down this path,’” Showalter said. “It’s a date that would allow him to start the season next year. That’s really what it is. It doesn’t mean that he can’t continue down this road and not start the season on time next year. That’s a decision that he’s going to make, and we’re going to be supportive of it regardless.”

Wieters leads American League All-Star voting at the catcher position and was off to arguably the best offensive start of his career, hitting .308 with five home runs and 18 runs batted in.

Showalter remained optimistic on Monday, but the continued presence of pain is not a good sign as Wieters and the Orioles try to decide how to proceed. The Baltimore manager expected Wieters to continue his program of throwing every other day until his appointment with Dr. Andrews next Monday.

“He still has some discomfort, but nothing like he had,” Showalter said. “Matt was hoping it would have progressed a little more at this point. I think he wants to get Dr. Andrews’ opinion, and Dr. Andrews thinks that’s a good idea. He’s just going to go in and what they come out of that appointment with, let’s put it this way, I hope I see him [next] Tuesday.”

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I’m actually glad Machado snapped like a 6-year old yesterday

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I’m actually glad Machado snapped like a 6-year old yesterday

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Drew Forrester

Honestly, I’m glad Manny Machado flipped out in the 8th inning of yesterday’s clubbing administered by the Oakland A’s.

I was a little concerned — selfishly — that I might have opened a can of worms this morning when I bashed him for his silly tirade on Friday night when – GASP! – he was tagged out by A’s 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson.  I assumed a few folks in town would rally behind Machado when I chided him for being an over-sensitive wimp who was angry because Donaldson “tagged him too hard.”

Now you know why I was happy to see Machado go off the reservation yesterday.

There’s no defending him on that — and no defending him for Friday’s episode, either.

He obviously tried to throw his bat at the pitcher yesterday.  That came on the heels of the pitcher trying to hit him (or, at the very least, “send a message”) with the previous pitch.  All of that, I’ll remind you, was part of a Friday night debacle where Machado acted like a complete lunatic after Josh Donaldson tagged him out on a play near third base.  My guess is there was plenty of chirping going on throughout the three games — between both Machado and the A’s — and the A’s quietly said to themselves, “Well, if we can somehow get a 10-run lead on these guys at some point, we’ll deal with the whiz kid.”

Sadly, Machado is turning into the very player we DIDN’T want to see with one of our hotshot rookies.  He has apparently evolved into a cross between Bryce Harper (“I’m untouchable”) and Brett Lawrie (“If things don’t go my way, I just act like a jerk”).  That’s not good.

I have no idea what sort of relationship Buck Showalter has with Machado.  For all I know, Machado might completely march to the beat of his own drum and not listen to anyone, including his manager.  That said, Showalter has a great opportunity to do some real coaching now.  He can either protect his player or tell him the truth.  If he tells Machado the truth, he’s going to hurt his feelings.  But, truth be told, Machado embarrassed himself this weekend.  He embarrassed the organization, too.  And, in a weird way, he’s embarrassing Showalter, too.  If the skipper can’t get his wonder-boy under control, we’ll all be left to wonder if Showalter has any juice (no pun intended) in the clubhouse or is he just the old guy who fills out the lineup card?

All Showalter has to do is have the tough talk with him that no one in the organization is willing to do:  ”Manny, you’re acting like a punk, now.  You can’t spend the rest of your career getting pissed off every time something doesn’t go your way.”

Machado won’t like it.  But it’s the truth.

He’s embarrassing himself.

I assumed he was above that, being 21 years old and a superstar and all.

Apparently not.

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Orioles place Gonzalez on DL, summon Gausman to start on Saturday

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Orioles place Gonzalez on DL, summon Gausman to start on Saturday

Posted on 06 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After making it through the first two months of the season with their Opening Day rotation making all but one start, the Orioles placed starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique on Friday.

Right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman has been summoned to make the start against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday but will not be activated for the series opener. The Orioles also optioned right-handed relief pitcher Preston Guilmet to Triple-A Norfolk, recalled left-handed pitcher Tim Berry from Double-A Bowie, and selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Evan Meek from Triple-A Norfolk.

To make room for Meek on the 40-man roster, the Orioles transferred Rule 5 infielder Michael Almanzar (knee) to the 60-day disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter expressed optimism that Gonzalez’s time on the disabled list will be minimal as he could begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Bowie or Single-A Frederick as early as the middle of next week, putting him in line to return as early as his first day of eligibility on June 15. Gonzalez expressed optimism on Friday afternoon that he would still be able to make Saturday’s start, but Showalter did not want to risk him going to the hill and experiencing an issue with the oblique strain, leaving the Orioles in a dangerous position with their bullpen.

“No one wants to be on the DL, but you’ve got to think about it in the long run,” Gonzalez said prior to the news becoming official. “You don’t want to go out there and hurt yourself and be out for 2 1/2 months and miss all that time. You don’t want to do that.”

Gonzalez’s stint on the DL is retroactive to May 31 as he started against the Houston Astros last Friday. The 30-year-old right-hander is 3-4 with a 4.17 earned run average in 58 1/3 innings this season and had registered four straight quality starts prior to waking up with pain in his right side earlier this week.

Gausman will be making his second start of the season for the Orioles after being tagged for five earned runs in four innings in a spot start against the Detroit Tigers on May 14. Showalter expressed hope that the 2012 first-round pick would make it difficult on the Orioles to decide on his fate once Gonzalez is ready to be activated later this month.

In 10 starts for Norfolk this season, Gausman is 1-3 with a 2.98 ERA and has struck out 44 batters and walked 18 in 42 1/3 innings.

Berry and Meek were summoned to provide extra help in the bullpen after starter Chris Tillman was knocked out in the second inning of Thursday’s 8-6 loss to the Texans Rangers. The Orioles would then option Berry back to Bowie to make room for Gausman to start on Saturday if all goes to plan.

A 50th-round pick in the 2009 draft, the 23-year-old Berry landed firmly on the Orioles’ prospect radar after a 3.85 ERA at Single-A Frederick last year and was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason. He is 3-3 with a 4.12 ERA in 11 starts for Bowie this season.

In other injury-related news, right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter (groin) will make a rehab appearance for Single-A Delmarva on Saturday and could be activated from the disabled list as early as Sunday.

During his outing in Sarasota on Friday, veteran left-handed pitcher Johan Santana was struck by a line drive and felt something in his Achilles tendon while trying to field the ball, causing him to leave the game. The 35-year-old was still being examined when Showalter met with local reporters on Friday afternoon.

Santana was expected to be assigned to a minor-league affiliate for his next outing as he is moving closer to an expected debut in Baltimore later this month, so it remains to be seen if those plans will now need to be altered.

 

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Is moving to a six-man rotation what’s best for the Orioles?

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Is moving to a six-man rotation what’s best for the Orioles?

Posted on 05 June 2014 by Luke Jones

Orioles manager Buck Showalter often quips how his best-laid plans and toughest decisions tend to be made by the baseball gods, making Wednesday’s news of starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez possibly going to the disabled list with a strained oblique unfortunate but also fitting.

The injury came just a day after Showalter acknowledged the possibility of moving to a six-man rotation with left-handed pitcher and former two-time American League Cy Young Award winnter Johan Santana slated to be ready to return to the major leagues later this month. Baltimore’s starting pitching ranks 12th in the AL in earned run average and 14th in innings pitched, but no one starter has struggled significantly more than the others in trying to decide who might be replaced by the 35-year-old Santana.

Traditionalists still pining for the days of a four-man rotation and the 1971 Orioles will scoff at the notion of using six starters, asking why Showalter and the organization would want to make such a change when they don’t even have five starters consistent enough for their liking. One of the biggest arguments against a six-man rotation is that it limits the amount of work for your best pitchers, but no Orioles starter has performed well enough so far this season to really have such a gripe.

Assuming Gonzalez’s potential trip to the DL isn’t a lengthy one, what are the benefits of using a six-man rotation when Santana is ready to be activated?

The fundamental change does reduce the average starter’s workload by just over five starts in the course of a 162-game schedule, but it also adds an extra day of recovery time, which is an interesting variable considering how often Showalter has tried to gain an extra day of rest for the likes of Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen over the last couple seasons. Never one to shy away from thinking outside of the box, Showalter could reason that a six-man staff might require tinkering with pitchers’ between-start regimens — perhaps each member of the rotation has a day in which he’s available in the bullpen to account for the lost roster spot — but could also result in fresher arms come September.

Would a schedule in which a pitcher works every sixth day allow him to throw 15 extra pitches per start or — more importantly — to simply be more effective and efficient when he takes the hill because he feels stronger?

With the alarming increase in Tommy John surgeries for major league pitchers this year, some have discussed the merits of using the six-man rotation to alleviate stress on the elbow while pointing to Japanese baseball’s significantly lower rate of Tommy John surgeries compared to the major leagues. In this era of increased specialization and the desire to protect pitching investments reaching nine figures, it only seems to be a matter of when — not if — clubs begin shifting to six-man rotations in the same way that the standard changed from four starters to five beginning in the 1970s. It has already started with some clubs occasionally moving to six-man rotations to protect young pitchers’ innings limits and is likely to trickle down to underwhelming rotations — like the Orioles’ current group — before ultimately becoming the standard around the major leagues at some point down the road.

Moving to a six-man rotation would allow Showalter to add Santana to the mix without relegating a current starter to the bullpen where he might struggle to get regular work. One of the more overlooked challenges for a pitcher can be the in-season shuffle between starting and relieving, which can put significant strain on the arm. Should Santana’s surgically-repaired left shoulder not hold up or he simply prove ineffective after not pitching since 2012, the Orioles could either transition back to a five-man rotation or look to add 2012 first-round pick Kevin Gausman to the starting mix, which would also quell concerns about his innings limit in 2014.

There’s no clear-cut answer as some pitchers such as Chen and Gonzalez have thrived with extra rest while Ubaldo Jimenez and Bud Norris have historically performed better working on four days’ rest. Perhaps a six-man rotation in which one or two starters take a higher priority in staying on turn would need to be designed, but Showalter’s mere acknowledgement of it being a possibility tells you the Orioles skipper has put extensive thought into it and has collected as much information as possible to make a potential decision.

Maybe we’ll see it or perhaps the baseball gods will intervene to prevent it from happening, but below is a look at the current starters’ results based on four, five, and six or more days of rest in their major league careers.

Chris Tillman
Four days: 4.47 ERA in 54 starts, 5.75 innings per start
Five days: 4.56 ERA in 18 starts, 5.59 innings per start
Six days or more: 3.82 ERA in 24 starts, 5.5 innings per start

Ubaldo Jimenez
Four days: 3.64 ERA in 131 starts, 6.23 innings per start
Five days: 4.31 ERA in 65 starts, 5.85 innings per start
Six days or more: 4.74 ERA in 27 starts, 5.42 innings per start

Bud Norris
Four days: 4.10 ERA in 65 starts, 5.81 innings per start
Five days: 4.49 ERA in 50 starts, 5.93 innings per start
Six days or more: 5.07 ERA in 21 starts, 5.49 innings per start

Wei-Yin Chen
Four days: 4.52 ERA in 30 starts, 5.84 innings per start
Five days: 3.89 ERA in 25 starts, 6.11 innings per start
Six days or more: 3.32 ERA in 11 starts, 5.91 innings per start

Miguel Gonzalez
Four days: 4.18 ERA in 25 starts, 6.12 innings per start
Five days: 2.77 ERA in 13 starts, 6.26 innings per start
Six days or more: 3.31 ERA in 14 starts, 5.83 innings per start

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