Tag Archive | "Chris Davis"

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Positive signs all around for the O’s

Posted on 03 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

The Orioles earned their 48th win of the season tonight with a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox. Tonight’s game was a complete 180 from last night’s 5-2 loss. Tomorrow, the teams will square off at 2:10 p.m. to determine the winner of the series.

Tonight’s game was filled with positive signs. Scott Feldman made his Orioles debut and was as advertised. Feldman went six innings while giving up two earned runs and six hits. Feldman will be able to eat up more innings but the fact that he was thrown into the fire and performed well was impressive to me.

As always, the bullpen was stellar. Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, and Jim Johnson pitched one inning a piece and gave up just one combined hit through the three remaining innings.

How could there be an Orioles blog without mentioning Chris Davis? The man is crazy good. We are truly watching one of the greatest regular seasons in baseball history! Davis scored a run, knocked in three more, and is now hitting for an average of .331.

Davis has hit nine RBI in his last four games which date back to June 29 against the New York Yankees. Davis’s stats will continue on their record pace and could even improve. If Brian Roberts can be productive at the bottom of the order, he will act as another lead off man which in turn will put more men on base for the offense.

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Five Questions for Friday

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Five Questions for Friday

Posted on 20 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

As we try out a new segment “Five Questions for Friday” on The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction, I wanted to pick readers’ brains on the following topics.

(Update: Thanks to those who chimed in via Twitter, Facebook, and in the comments section below. You can catch Friday morning’s segment HERE.)

I’ve offered my own thoughts on each question and invite you to offer your answers in the comments selection below and I’ll share your insights on Friday morning.

1. If you’re only able to keep two moving forward, who would you choose among Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, and Chris Davis?

This question was brought up during Thursday morning’s show by Jonathan in Essex and it’s an intriguing one to ponder, particularly when you acknowledge the potential cost that each of these three young players will carry in the future.

Wieters and Davis are both scheduled to become free agents after 2015 while Machado isn’t currently scheduled to see free agency until after the 2018 campaign.

Machado is the easy first choice and Wieters would have been my second pick in spring training, but my answer may be changing as the season progresses and we see Chris Davis continue an MVP-caliber season. Even if this is Davis’ career year and he settles in as a first baseman capable of simply hitting 30 to 40 home runs in the typical year, he brings the type of power only a handful of players in the major leagues can provide.

However, Wieters’ defense and ability to handle a flawed pitching staff is a major reason why the Orioles have become a winning franchise over the last two years. He never did become Johnny Bench offensively, but he’s still a good offensive catcher with exceptional defensive skills, a rare combination among backstops in the game today.

If I’m choosing now, I’ll keep Machado and Davis, but a big reason why is the Orioles’ window for signing Wieters to a long-term extension continuing to close. The catcher will be 29 when he hits free agency after 2015 and will be looking for an expensive and lengthy contract, which is something I’m not crazy about doing for a catcher who will have much tread worn away from the tires by then.

2. After Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta, which player currently on the roster will be the most productive receiver for the Ravens in 2013?

Smith and Pitta are the easy choices for seeing a spike in production following the departure of Anquan Boldin, but it remains to be seen who else will emerge to become a bigger part of the passing game.

I’m not sold on Jacoby Jones suddenly become a consistent wide receiver in his seventh year despite the big-play ability, so I’ll go with Tandon Doss finally figuring it out in his third year to become a respectable contributor. Anyone in the media will tell you how well Doss has practiced over the last couple years, but limited opportunities and nagging injuries have prevented him from becoming a household name.

Many have written him off after being targeted only 20 times in his career and his disappointing showing in the wild-card round against Indianapolis, but he fits the closest profile to what the Ravens received from Boldin over the last three years. And he’s gotten stronger and quicker since entering the league as a fourth-round pick out of Indiana.

Of course, don’t forget the possibility of Ray Rice becoming an even bigger factor out of the backfield as a receiver, especially with the power-running ability of Bernard Pierce likely cutting into his total number of carries.

3. Of the four Orioles currently in line to be starters in July’s All-Star Game, how would you rank them in order of being most deserving? Which Orioles belong in the Midsummer Classic and which ones don’t?

Of the four players slated to be starters as of the last voting update, Davis is clearly the most deserving. After that, I’d be inclined to go with Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Nick Markakis in order from most to least deserving of the nod.

Jones continues to be very productive in a down year for American League outfielders. Meanwhile, Hardy is hitting .311 with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs since May 1 and continues to be an excellent defensive shortstop.

Markakis is a pick based mostly on the outstanding voting efforts of Orioles fans, but little about his solid-but-unspectacular season really screams All-Star starter if you’re looking at his numbers objectively. He ranks 15th among AL outfielders with a .761 OPS this year.

Aside from Davis, no Orioles player is more deserving of an All-Star nod than Machado, who leads the major leagues in hits and is on pace to set a new major-league record for doubles as he already has 33 in 73 games. It’s understandable that he ranks second behind 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for third basemen, but it will truly be a shame if he’s left off the All-Star team.

Wieters currently ranks second among AL catchers and will earn consideration because of his defense and reputation, but his offensive numbers don’t hold up as well this year with a .702 OPS, which ranks behind Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, Jason Castro, Ryan Doumit, and Salvador Perez among AL backstops.

4. Because everyone else has asked the question and I want to address it once before moving on, so who would be your four choices for the Ravens’ hypothetical version of Mt. Rushmore?

I suppose Pro Football Talk should receive the blame for getting this discussion rolling for the 32 NFL teams this spring, but I find it difficult to come up with a definitive foursome for a franchise that only has 17 seasons of history to its name.

The first three are elementary with Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, and Ed Reed, but choosing a fourth feels forced. Super Bowl XLVII most valuable player Joe Flacco would be my tentative selection for now, but Flacco has too much football ahead of him to definitively etch him in stone as one of the four greatest in franchise history.

Still, I’d include him before the likes of Ray Rice, Jamal Lewis, Matt Stover, and Terrell Suggs based on the first five years of his NFL career.

The truth is these types of exercises work much better for teams with extensive histories and it feels artificial for even successful teams with shorter histories such as the Ravens, let alone teams lacking any substantial prosperity like Jacksonville or Carolina.

5. What is your favorite superhero movie?

Yes, I realize this isn’t a sports-related question, but I thought I’d throw in a non-sports topic to discuss and I plan to see “Man of Steel” over the weekend.

The newest attempt at a Superman movie has received mixed reviews, but I’ll freely admit to being a nerd for superhero movies such as the Batman trilogy and saw “Iron Man 3″ in the theater earlier this spring.

“The Dark Knight” goes down as my all-time favorite superhero movie, but I also found “The Dark Knight Rises” to be much better than many gave it credit for as I thoroughly enjoyed Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane. It was impossible to match the psychotic performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker in the previous movie, but Hardy gave a more than respectable effort playing the homicidal man behind the mask.

How would you answer the five questions posed? Comment below and see if your answers make the cut for Friday’s show.

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Your Monday Reality Check: I told you I’d be excited and now I’m excited

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Your Monday Reality Check: I told you I’d be excited and now I’m excited

Posted on 17 June 2013 by Glenn Clark

After the Orioles took two of three from the Detroit Tigers two weeks ago at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I could sense a particularly significant level of satisfaction in Baltimore.

Fans took to social media to make statements along the lines of “biggest series win of the year” and “proof the O’s are the best team in the American League” and many more.

It was a fun series and a nice series win against a potential playoff opponent. But on that Monday’s edition of “The Reality Check”, I ruffled a few feathers by suggesting I wasn’t as enthused as many others were. My reasoning was simple. It was a nice series victory, but whatever the Orioles do against the Tigers wasn’t nearly as important as what they do against AL East opponents.

As always, there was a minority who said “this is typical. Someone at WNST is trying to marginalize the Orioles.” The rest of us know how idiotic that group is, but are forced to accept their existence.

I made sure to fortify my statement a few days later when the Orioles were crushed by the Astros on a Wednesday night in Houston. Before we knew the Birds would go on to win the series Thursday afternoon, I made sure to clarify that I wasn’t concerned if the Orioles won the series or not. What the Orioles did against an AL West opponent simply couldn’t carry the significance of a series against AL East opponents.

I didn’t waiver on those opinions the following weekend, as a series loss to the Tampa Bay Rays (even if they avoided a sweep) lead to me offering critical comments this past Monday afternoon on “The Reality Check.”

I said then that the Birds couldn’t just beat teams elsewhere in baseball and assume they would be able to make a run in the postseason. Callers told me things like “the whole division is just going to beat each other up” but none had much of a response when I said back “in order for that to happen, the O’s have to beat up SOMEONE.”

So I made it clear on Monday’s show-”if the Orioles spank the Boston Red Sox this week there will be no negativity. There will be no downplaying. I might well throw a parade!”

It’s with that in mind that I ask you to collect some ticker tape and meet me on Pratt Street at 3:30 or so. But if I’m running a bit late, feel free to start without me.

Kidding aside, I’m absolutely THRILLED with the results of the Orioles’ series against the Sox this weekend at OPACY. The second base debacle aside, it was a very important weekend for the Birds-easily the most significant series they’ve claimed in 2013.

There are currently four teams in the American League who have records over .500 (the Orioles, Rays, first place Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees). There are only three others in the entire American League (the Tigers, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers) who similarly find themselves with more wins than losses at the moment.

We’re far enough into the season to now that none of the four teams in the AL East is simply going to go away, no matter how many times we’ve tried to justify the potential in our own minds. The Yanks have done it despite injuries, the Rays have done it without David Price actually being David Price and the Red Sox have somehow managed to forget 2012 ever happened. For what it’s worth, the Toronto Blue Jays linger just four games under .500. But we won’t include them in the conversation until (and more likely “if”) they need to be.

All of these teams are going to be in this thing. The Orioles will not be guaranteed a postseason berth even by playing above .500 ball in the AL East. As some had wondered aloud before the season, there is a CHANCE all of these teams are finishing the season above .500. It’s far from a likelihood, but it is most certainly a possibility.

It’s with that in mind that I continue to tell everyone just how important it will be to win the games against the teams you’re competing against for the AL East crown and/or two Wild Card spots.

The Orioles play nearly half of their games (73) against division opponents. Coming into the four game set against the Sox, they had played 21 games against the three other teams above .500 in the division; holding a 10-11 record in those contests. A simple math lesson from Perry Hall High School’s Mr. Radcliffe will tell me that that record could have been anywhere from 14-11 to 10-15 after the weekend.

Follow up with Mr. Radcliffe about this, but I’m reasonably certainly 13-12 is a good bit better than 10-15…or even 12-13.

The Orioles didn’t wrap up their first division title since 1997 over the weekend. They most certainly didn’t guarantee they’d make a second consecutive trip to the postseason either.

What they did is take another significant step in that process with three gutty victories over the team sitting at the top of the standings.

That simply cannot be understated and I will not even remotely attempt to do that.

In fact, I’ve already got my “Chris Davis’ monkey” float parked outside the ballpark. It’s exactly what you think it is.

-G

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Markakis moves into top 3 among AL outfielders in All-Star voting

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Markakis moves into top 3 among AL outfielders in All-Star voting

Posted on 15 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

The Orioles may be trailing the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, but they’re dominating the entire league when it comes to voting for Major League Baseball’s 84th All-Star Game.

The latest voting update has four Orioles players who would find themselves in the startling lineup for the 84th edition of the exhibition as first baseman Chris Davis, outfielder Adam Jones, and shortstop J.J. Hardy are leading the league in voting at their respective positions. Joining them as a projected starter would be eighth-year veteran Nick Markakis, who ranks third among AL outfielders behind Jones and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Markakis has never been selected to an All-Star Game.

Catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado rank second in voting at their respective positions and outfielder Nate McLouth ranks seventh among AL outfielders.

Davis has the second-highest vote total of any AL player behind Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has a lead of over 1.6 million votes over Machado.

Last year, the Orioles sent three players to the Midsummer Classic (Jones, Wieters, and closer Jim Johnson), marking the first time they’d had multiple selection in an All-Star Game since 2005 when Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora, and B.J. Ryan were all selected to play.

In-stadium voting concludes on June 28, but fans may vote online through July 4. The All-Star teams will be unveiled on July 7 with the game itself scheduled for July 16 at Citi Field.

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR VOTING
(as of June 15)

FIRST BASE
Chris Davis, Orioles 2,999,094
Prince Fielder, Tigers 1,980,129
Mike Napoli, Red Sox 744,334
Albert Pujols, Angels 693,062
Mitch Moreland, Rangers 645,071

SECOND BASE
Robinson Cano, Yankees 2,409,512
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 1,635,674
Ian Kinsler, Rangers 1,123,654
Omar Infante, Tigers 872,142
Jose Altuve, Astros 734,896

SHORTSTOP
J.J. Hardy, Orioles 1,871,010
Elvis Andrus, Rangers 1,358,412
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers 1,322,791
Jed Lowrie, Athletics 1,019,861
Derek Jeter, Yankees 669,698

THIRD BASE
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 3,277,890
Manny Machado, Orioles 1,626,209
Adrian Beltre, Rangers 1,105,706
Evan Longoria, Rays 898,422
Josh Donaldson, J. Athletics 500,773

CATCHER
Joe Mauer, Twins 2,127,175
Matt Wieters, Orioles 1,615,625
A.J. Pierzynski, Rangers 885,137
Carlos Santana, Indians 864,779
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox 748,725

DESIGNATED HITTER
David Ortiz, Red Sox 2,488,451
Lance Berkman, Rangers 1,239,521
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays 769,322
Mark Reynolds, Indians 745,058
Mark Trumbo, Angels 722,667

OUTFIELD
Adam Jones, Orioles 2,740,505
Mike Trout, Angels 2,710,115
Nick Markakis, Orioles 1,463,392
Torii Hunter, Tigers 1,425,571
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays 1,379,251
Nelson Cruz, Rangers 1,310,079
Nate McLouth, Orioles 1,300,158
Alex Gordon, Royals 1,040,685
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox 1,004,434
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics 926,611
Coco Crisp, Athletics 869,153
Josh Hamilton, Angels 726,485
Austin Jackson, Tigers 712,623
Shane Victorino, Red Sox 682,220
Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees 620,734

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Hardy, Jones join Davis as leading All-Star vote getters at respective positions

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Hardy, Jones join Davis as leading All-Star vote getters at respective positions

Posted on 08 June 2013 by WNST Staff

Hardy overtakes Andrus at shortstop in latest American League balloting figures

Jones Passes Trout for Top Outfield Spot; Cabrera Maintains Overall Lead

 

Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who is bidding for his second All-Star appearance and his first fan-elected start, has surpassed Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers in the second balloting figures for the 84th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 16th at Citi Field in New York. The latest A.L. results were announced earlier this evening on FOX as part of its “Baseball Night in America” pre-game show. The second National League balloting results will be revealed tomorrow night on ESPN during “Baseball Tonight” at 7:00 p.m. prior to its Sunday Night Baseball telecast.

Hardy, an All-Star in 2007, is aiming to become just the third Orioles shortstop to earn a fan-elected start, joining Cal Ripken, Jr. (12 times; 1984-87, 89-96) and Miguel Tejada (2005). In addition, he is attempting to become the first A.L. shortstop other than Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees to earn a fan-elected starting nod since Tejada. Hardy, who leads all A.L. shortstops with 13 home runs and 37 RBI, has totaled 1,231,843 votes. He is trailed closely by Andrus, a two-time All-Star, who has received 1,045,885.

Hardy’s Orioles teammate Adam Jones has taken over the top spot in the A.L. outfield with 1,944,450 votes, and last week’s leader, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, follows right behind with 1,939,486 votes. Jones, striving for his third All-Star appearance and first fan-elected start, would become just the fourth Orioles outfielder in history to receive a fan-elected start, joining Hall of Famer Frank Robinson (1970-71), Ken Singleton (1981) and Brady Anderson (1997). Jones, who has reached base safely in 52 of his 61 games this season, ranks among the top 10 in the A.L. with 43 runs (tied for third), 77 hits (fourth) and 18 doubles (tied for fifth). Trout, the 2012 A.L. Rookie of the Year, is vying for his second Midsummer Classic appearance after becoming the seventh-youngest A.L. position player in All-Star history last year. The 21-year-old has reached safely in 55 games this season and his 24 multi-hit games are tied for second in the A.L.

Rounding out the top three outfielders is Torii Hunter of the Detroit Tigers, who has collected 1,067,973 votes as he aims for his fifth All-Star appearance and second fan-elected start (2002). The nine-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, who is one home run shy of 300 for his career, would join Ron LeFlore (1976), Rusty Staub (1976), Chet Lemon (1984) and Magglio Ordoñez (2007) as the only Detroit outfielders to earn a fan-elected starting assignment. Hunter, in his first season in the Motor City, is trying to hold off a trio of outfielders, including Nick Markakis (1,030,653) of the Orioles, three-time All-Star and two-time fan-elected starter Jose Bautista (1,021,813) of the Toronto Blue Jays and 2009 All-Star Nelson Cruz (1,011,198) of the Rangers.

Hunter’s Tiger teammate Miguel Cabrera continues to hold the overall lead in the A.L. with 2,355,128 votes. The seven-time All-Star, who is bidding for his first-ever fan-elected start, leads the Majors with a .368 batting average, 67 RBI, 88 hits, 26 multi-hit games and a .447 on-base percentage. The 2012 A.L. MVP, who became the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, also paces the A.L. with 47 runs scored. He is trailed at third base by 20-year-old Manny Machado (1,170,108) of the Orioles, who leads the Majors with 26 doubles and ranks second behind Cabrera with 84 hits.

Joining Hardy and Cabrera in the A.L. infield is Hardy’s Baltimore teammate and first baseman Chris Davis and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. Davis, who has received the second-highest number of votes in the A.L. with 2,084,274, is contending for his Midsummer Classic debut, and would become the first Orioles first baseman since Hall of Famer Eddie Murray in 1985 to receive a fan-elected start. Davis, who leads the Majors with 20 home runs and a .719 slugging percentage, is on pace to hit 55 home runs and 55 doubles. He is trailed at first base by four-time All-Star Prince Fielder of the Tigers, who has tallied 1,469,537 votes. Cano, who is seeking his fourth consecutive starting assignment and fifth All-Star nod overall, would become the first A.L. second baseman to earn four consecutive fan-elected starts since Roberto Alomar had five from 1996-2000. Cano, who has garnered 1,851,371 votes, leads Major League second basemen with 15 home runs and a .510 slugging percentage, and he is tops among A.L. second basemen with 39 RBI. He is followed by three-time All-Star and two-time fan-elected starter Dustin Pedroia (1,106,949) of the A.L. East rival Boston Red Sox.

Minnesota Twins backstop Joe Mauer, who has totaled 1,492,396 votes, continues to lead Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (1,153,795), a two-time All-Star, behind the plate. Mauer, a five-time All-Star and three-time fan-elected starter, would join Hall of Famers Rod Carew (nine times) and Kirby Puckett (six times) as the only Twins to earn at least four fan-elected starts.

Eight-time All-Star and six-time fan-elected starter David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox maintains a comfortable lead at designated hitter, having received 1,716,410 votes. Ortiz, who is trailed by Lance Berkman (957,618) of the Rangers, would become the second Red Sox player in history to earn seven fan-elected starts, joining his former teammate Manny Ramirez. In addition, Ortiz would become the 10th player in A.L. history to receive at least seven fan-elected starts with a single team, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17, Baltimore), George Brett (11, Kansas City), Carew (9, Minnesota) and Dave Winfield (7, New York), and other A.L. All-Stars Ken Griffey, Jr. (10, Seattle), Ichiro Suzuki (9, Seattle), Ivan Rodriguez (9, Texas), Jeter (8, New York) and Ramirez (7, Boston).

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports, and last year produced a record-shattering total of 40.2 million ballots cast. This year, more than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at the 30 Major League ballparks, each of which will have 25 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 Minor League ballparks.

In addition, fans around the world can cast their votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 Club web sites – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by freecreditscore.com. During the voting period, the All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by freecreditscore.com will be available in English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese, and will offer audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually-impaired fans. Banco BHD will sponsor online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language Web site of Major League Baseball.

Every Major League Club began its in-stadium balloting no later than Tuesday, May 7th. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes on Friday, June 28th, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 4th at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2013 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events.

For the fifth consecutive year, this year’s ballot features the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select the three players in each League who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll is also available online at MLB.com. The 2013 Home Run Derby, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8:00 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, July 15th. The 10 American League candidates are Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays; Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers; Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers; the winner of the 2011 Home Run Derby, Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees; Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox; the winner of the 2009 and 2012 Home Run Derby, Prince Fielder of the Tigers; Josh Hamilton of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles; Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays; and Mike Trout of the Angels. The 10 National League candidates are Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals; Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers; Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves; Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants; Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins; Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds; and David Wright of the Mets.

The A.L. All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the N.L. All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – A.L. skipper Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers and N.L. manager Bruce Bochy of the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.

Immediately following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over a four-day period and the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday, July 11th. Now in its 12th season with more than 350 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16th. The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. Pregame ceremonies will begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or mets.com/asg.

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Chen, Bundy each taking big steps in potential returns; All-Star voting update

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Chen, Bundy each taking big steps in potential returns; All-Star voting update

Posted on 03 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

As the Orioles enjoyed some much-needed rest and a travel day on Monday, they also received good news for two important pieces of their pitching puzzle who have been sidelined recently.

According to interpreter Tim Lin through his Twitter account, left-handed pitcher Wei-Yin Chen will take part in his first light-toss session in Sarasota on Tuesday to test the progress made from a strained right oblique that’s kept him sidelined for just over three weeks. Manager Buck Showalter revealed late last week that Chen reported no discomfort whatsoever for the first time last week and the pitcher had begun jogging work in a pool.

Chen hasn’t picked up a ball since leaving his start against the Minnesota Twins as strained obliques are often a difficult injury to rehab due to a bigger fear of setbacks. Showalter said Sunday that a mid-June return would be the best-case scenario for the Taiwanese southpaw, but the Orioles are expected to remain cautious to avoid the possibility of re-injury.

The Orioles will have a chance to reunite with Chen this weekend as they travel to St. Petersburg for a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Meanwhile, top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will also begin a throwing progression on June 10 after a followup exam with the renowned Dr. James Andrews on Monday, the club announced.

The fourth overall pick of the 2011 draft hasn’t pitched since spring training due to discomfort in his right forearm and received a platelet-rich plasma injection on April 29 that was followed by six weeks of rest. Should Bundy make it through the throwing program without any signs of pain or discomfort, the 20-year-old would presumably rejoin Double-A Bowie’s starting rotation.

Bundy and the Orioles had reported no discomfort and full range of motion with the elbow prior to Monday’s meeting with Dr. Andrews.

Davis, Jones among leaders in All-Star balloting

Having a career year with a .357 average, 20 home runs, and 52 RBIs, Chris Davis leads all American League first basemen in All-Star voting with a slight edge over Detroit’s Prince Fielder.

With just under 1.2 million votes in the update provided by Major League Baseball on Monday, Davis would become the first Orioles first baseman to start the Midsummer Classic since Eddie Murray in 1985.

Center fielder Adam Jones is second behind the Angels’ Mike Trouth in AL voting for outfielders, which means the 27-year-old would be one of the All-Star starters if voting concluded now. Jones is hitting .313 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs so far this season and is a two-time All-Star.

Right fielder Nick Markakis is sixth among AL outfielders while left fielder Nate McLouth currently ranks seventh.

Third baseman Manny Machado ranks second in the voting at his position, trailing only 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who leads in the overall AL vote. The 20-year-old is hitting .327 with a major-league-leading 25 doubles in his first full season in the major leagues.

Matt Wieters currently trails only Minnesota’s Joe Mauer among AL catchers and is vying for his third consecutive All-Star appearance.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy is second in voting at his position, narrowly behind Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers.

Despite playing in just three games this season before suffering a right hamstring injury, Brian Roberts ranks fifth among AL second basemen.

Sunday home game against Yankees moved to Sunday Night Baseball

The Orioles’ June 30 home game against the New York Yankees has been moved from 1:35 p.m. to 8:05 p.m. and will be a nationally-televised event on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

Baltimore and New York squared off on a Sunday night in the Bronx back in April.

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Can the Orioles keep mauling their way to victories?

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Can the Orioles keep mauling their way to victories?

Posted on 30 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 — As the Orioles were in the midst of erasing a 6-2 deficit Wednesday night against the Washington Nationals, you could almost imagine their collection of hitters uttering a spoof of the famous line about badges often heard in cinema.

Pitchers? We don’t need no stinkin’ pitchers!

And who could blame the lineup for saying it when you look at the impressive numbers through the first two months of the season? Entering Thursday’s game, the Orioles were leading the American League in runs scored (271), hits (515), doubles (118), home runs (75), slugging percentage (.464), extra-base hits (197), stolen bases (41), and on-base plus slugging percentage (.796). Baltimore also ranked second in batting average at .276.

Of course, baseball-minded people know better, acknowledging that an offensive-minded club short on pitching will provide plenty of excitement but typically fall short against the best opponents possessing the best pitchers. But the Orioles are used to bucking the typical trends as their improbable 2012 season showed.

Leading the way offensively is first baseman Chris Davis as he stroked two more homers Wednesday night to bring his league-leading total to 19. In addition to being on pace for a club-record 57 home runs, Davis’ .766 slugging percentage at the start of Thursday’s action was 110 points higher than the second-place and 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

While it hasn’t been as enjoyable for a pitching staff currently ranked 12th in the AL in team earned run average (4.52) and 12th in starter ERA (4.90), a confident offense has done the bulk of the work in a 30-24 start. Entering Thursday’s game, Orioles starting pitchers had failed to complete at least six innings in six of the last seven games, but the club managed a 4-3 record over that stretch. Freddy Garcia’s eight shutout innings appeared to snap that streak as the Orioles collected a 2-0 win over Washington Thursday night.

The dominating performance of the lineup was never more evident than Wednesday when the Orioles turned a 6-2 deficit into a 9-6 victory by mashing a season-high four home runs, three coming against one of the National League’s best starters in Jordan Zimmermann. Davis collected three more RBIs to give him 50 on the year. The slugging first baseman has credited improved patience at the plate in drawing 29 walks after drawing just 37 all last season.

“It’s fun,” said Davis, who didn’t hit his 19th homer until Aug. 18 last season. “You are always working on things. Just the consistent approach every day has helped me out. The routine. I heard for such a long time that routine is such a big part of this game and I’ve really found one that I like. I’ve continued to do that every day.”

Davis is the first to tell you he hasn’t done it alone as you look at the first seven spots of the order and won’t find a better group in the league. The Orioles currently have four players on pace to hit more than 20 home runs and six on pace to hit at least 15.

Included in that latter group is 20-year-old Manny Machado, who is hitting .336 and is on pace to hit a major-league-record 75 doubles. Put on the spot to discuss the production of the entire lineup, Davis recognized the success of the young third baseman, who is leading the majors with 25 doubles and was tied with Cabrera for most hits in the big leagues entering Thursday night.

“I think [the collective effort] has been a key for us all year. Manny [Machado] is swinging the bat well, Jonesy (Adam Jones), Nicky [Markakis], Manny, Nate [McLouth],” said Davis before realizing he had mistakenly mentioned Machado more than once and offering a quip in his defense. “Everything that has to do with Manny has to do with doubles, so I just said it twice. We are really putting together good at-bats one through nine and one guy is not having to carry the load.”

The Orioles are currently on pace to hit 230 home runs, which would be second-most in franchise history behind the 1996 club that stroked 257 and advanced to the postseason. This year’s club reminds many of that veteran-laden club that mauled opponents into submission while pitching poorly in the process.

Though that starting rotation possessed such names as Mike Mussina, David Wells, and Scott Erickson, the Orioles posted a starter ERA of 5.47 and team ERA of 5.14 that season, with the only saving grace being a solid bullpen led by Randy Myers. Despite possessing the most-prolific homer-hitting lineup in the history of the game at the time, the club slugged its way to an 88-74 record that was just good enough to advance to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years.

Are the Orioles facing similar prospects this season?

With Wei-Yin Chen currently sidelined with a strained oblique and Jason Hammel and Miguel Gonzalez appearing to work their way back to some form resembling their 2012 production, there is some room for encouragement. There’s even more if the back end of the rotation can occasionally provide a performance like the eight-inning gem from 36-year-old Freddy Garcia on Thursday.

But the doubts about the pitching will remain and they should when you’re lacking a true top-of-the-rotation starter. The debate will go on throughout the summer over how far the Orioles should — and will — go to acquire more starting pitching, but the likelihood of dealing for a pitcher to fit at the top of the rotation appears bleak unless they’re willing to part with Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy.

In the meantime, the Orioles will ride their remarkable offense while hoping that a couple more starters emerge like Gonzalez and Chris Tillman did in the second half last season to stabilize what was a very shaky rotation through the first four months of the season. As fans and pundits continue to wonder whether the Orioles can succeed with a potent offense and the same inefficient pitching, the club itself doesn’t seem to be nearly as concerned.

“There’s just not a whole lot of panic,” Showalter said. “I think they have a lot of faith in each other. They really do. I think our pitchers feel that way, too, if we can just get some zeroes up there and get the momentum headed in the other way. I think what I see is a young group, the youngest one in the division, but still a mature group. They don’t panic.”

And as long as they keep hanging crooked numbers on their side of the box score, the Orioles appear to be OK for the time being as they work through their pitching issues.

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Roberts to see knee specialist after slow recovery

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Roberts to see knee specialist after slow recovery

Posted on 07 May 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Taking light batting practice in Sarasota was supposed to be an important step in the return of Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, but it instead created more uncertainty regarding his status moving forward.

Complaining that the back of his knee didn’t feel right as he attempted to take swings, the 35-year-old infielder will see knee specialist Dr. Daniel Cooper in Dallas to get a second opinion on his recovery from a torn tendon suffered behind his right knee. Dr. Cooper is the same specialist who cared for Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria when the All-Star infielder suffered a hamstring injury last season.

“He started taking some batting practice and just didn’t like the way it felt,” said manager Buck Showalter, who supported Roberts’ request for a second opinion. “He said he wasn’t expecting that with the progression that we’ve done, and I think he’s just a little frustrated that it hasn’t come faster.”

The original prognosis for a return was three to four weeks after Roberts injured his knee sliding into second base on April 4 at Tropicana Field. The club has officially labeled the injury a right hamstring strain, but Roberts actually tore the tendon behind his knee.

In Roberts’ absence, the club has used a second-base platoon of Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla that’s provided little offensive production as Flaherty is hitting just .125 and Casilla is sitting at .200. After previously hesitating to place Roberts on the 60-day disabled list, which would officially keep him off the big-league roster until early June, it now appears the Orioles wouldn’t hesitate to make the move should a roster need arise elsewhere.

The new development also makes you wonder if executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will look more carefully outside the organization for help at second base, but Showalter is publicly remaining optimistic until Dr. Cooper provides answers that might suggest otherwise in regards to Roberts being a likely candidate for the 60-day DL.

“No more than he was before,” Showalter said. “I’m not looking at it that way. I’m still holding out hope that this will get going. I like the fact that we don’t have a need for it yet.”

Wait-and-see mode with Gonzalez

The Orioles won’t know when right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez will make his next start until he completes his bullpen day on Thursday to determine how well the blister on his right thumb has healed.

Gonzalez will cover the area with a bandage during his workday, but the pitcher isn’t allowed to wear as much as a Band-Aid on his finger when throwing in a game. The earlier Gonzalez would be ready to pitch is likely Saturday with his bullpen day falling on the final day of the Kansas City series.

Showalter isn’t ruling out the possibility of Gonzalez being skipped in the rotation entirely if the blister continues to be an issue.

“It’s getting better,” Showalter said. “It’s a blister underneath a callous. It’s kind of good in a way that it broke, tore off — whatever you want to say — so we’ve gotten all the way down to the bottom. Now, it’s a matter of getting [it] calloused over.”

Thursday would have been Gonzalez’s normal turn in the starting rotation, but veteran Freddy Garcia will instead take the hill against former Orioles Jeremy Guthrie in the series finale against the Royals.

Odds & ends

Shortstop J.J. Hardy received an injection in his right elbow from Dr. Lewis Yocum in Anaheim over the weekend for a case of mild tennis elbow, according to Showalter. It is not considered a big deal. … Starter Jason Hammel picked up his fifth win on Sunday to begin the year 5-1. According to Elias, with a win in his next decision, Hammel will become the first Orioles pitcher to go 6-1 or better to start consecutive seasons since Mike Boddicker, who started 6-1 in 1985 and 10-1 in 1986. … The Orioles have made just one error in the last 10 games and three in the last 17 games. … The Orioles (0-for-9) and Royals (1-for-10) are batting a combined .053 as pinch-hitters. … Baltimore has eight players with three or more home runs, the most for any American League team. Cleveland and Oakland are tied for second with six each. The Chicago Cubs lead the majors with nine players having three or more homers.

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Orioles breathe sigh of relief as Davis avoids DL

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Orioles breathe sigh of relief as Davis avoids DL

Posted on 04 May 2013 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 6:25 p.m.)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter reacted how you’d expect him to following Friday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels in which first baseman Chris Davis left the game with a right knee injury.

But he had to breathe a sign of relief on Saturday as Davis is likely to avoid the disabled list, according to executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette in several reports. Team doctors won’t see the results until the Orioles return to Baltimore following the road trip, but Angels team doctors provide a favorable prognosis after looking at results from a Saturday MRI.

Davis is considered day-to-day and wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday as Steve Pearce took his place.

Showalter was optimistic Friday night while pointing to the slew of injuries the club has already endured over the last two seasons, but you just know the Orioles were fearing the prospects of life without the slugger in the middle of the lineup. Davis injured his knee stepping on first base after running out a grounder to third in the top of the fifth inning. His knee appeared to buckle and he struggled to put any weight on his right leg as he exited the game.

Earlier this week, Davis was named American League Player of the Month for April and is hitting .330 with nine home runs and 29 runs batted in after a blistering start to the season.

Adding insult to injury on Friday night, Showalter was forced to insert Ryan Flaherty — and his .108 batting average — at first base with the backup first baseman Pearce already serving as the designated hitter. Without knowing how long Davis will be out, the Orioles’ options on the 25-man roster beyond Pearce were limited as outfielders Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis have only played the position sparingly.

Minor-league candidates included Danny Valencia, Russ Canzler, and Travis Ishikawa. Of those three, Ishikawa has been playing regularly at first base for Triple-A Norfolk but is hitting only .235. Valencia is hitting .323 with four homers and 18 RBIs while Canzler has a .281 average and leads the Tides in home runs (five) and RBIs (21).

Of course, it was too early to panic until the Orioles learned of Davis’ prognosis, but the lamenting already heard from fans this spring over the departure of Mark Reynolds would have only grown louder if Davis had landed on the disabled list.

And it would have been difficult to blame them if Davis had been out for any significant amount of time with so few viable options to replace him.

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Ten Orioles thoughts with April in the books

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Ten Orioles thoughts with April in the books

Posted on 01 May 2013 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles concluding the opening month of the 2013 season by tying a franchise record with 16 wins in April, here are 10 thoughts to ponder as May begins:

1. Jason Hammel leads the club with four wins, but we’ve yet to see the 2012 version of the de facto ace show up this season. That’s not to say the right-hander hasn’t been one of the Orioles’ better starting pitchers, but the two-seam fastball that led to his renaissance last season hasn’t shown nearly the same bite through six starts this year. Despite a 3.79 earned run average, Hammel is averaging just 5.9 innings per start and his 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings is down dramatically from the 8.6 rate he held last season. Always possessing strong breaking stuff, Hammel needs to find a better feel for his two-seamer in order to make the rest of his repertoire more explosive. There was little debate that 2012 was a career season for Hammel prior to the knee surgery in July, but the Orioles didn’t actively pursue an impact starting pitcher with the thought — wise or not — that they had a pitcher with top-of-the rotation stuff. They’ll need better from Hammel over the next five months of the season.

2. Chris Davis’ historic opening-week start gained the most attention, but the free-swinging first baseman also collected 16 walks in April. His nine home runs have garnered plenty of press as opponents are pitching the left-handed slugger very carefully since the beginning of the season, but the walk totals have led many — including me — to praise Davis for an improved level of patience at the plate after he walked only 37 times during the 2012 season. However, the 27-year-old is seeing just 3.79 pitches per plate appearance after averaging 4.00 pitches per trip to the plate a year ago. Part of this can be explained by Davis’ strikeout rate decreasing (one every 3.5 at-bats compared to one per 3.0 at-bats last year), but it also indicates his walk numbers may not be sustained as his bat inevitably cools off at different points in the season. Regardless of just how much more patient Davis has become at the plate or not, it’s difficult to dispute how much of a force he’s become since the beginning of last season, making his acquisition in the Koji Uehara deal in 2011 a brilliant one by former president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

3. The decisions to let go of Mark Reynolds and Joe Saunders weren’t the problem, but electing not to replace them is looking more and more like a mistake. Anyone who expects the former Orioles first baseman to continue hitting .300 like he did in his first month with Cleveland will likely be disappointed, but his eight home runs would look very good in the Baltimore lineup right now. Considering Orioles designated hitters batted .144 and posted a .502 on-base plus slugging percentage in April, Reynolds occupying that role or first base — with Davis handling the other — would be a major boost to the lineup. Meanwhile, Saunders pitched a complete game against the Orioles on Monday night but has been abysmal away from Safeco Field (12.51 ERA) so far. As I said during the offseason, letting go of Reynolds and Saunders was fine if the intention was to upgrade each of their spots and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette expressed the desire to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat and a veteran starting pitcher. However, neither of those goals were accomplished and that could continue to plague the Orioles throughout 2013.

4. Zach Britton turned in a poor 2013 debut, but his quick demotion sends the wrong message to the organization’s young pitchers. No one expected the 25-year-old left-hander to have a long leash given the higher expectations in Baltimore these days, but I can’t subscribe to the idea of sending down a pitcher who you hope will fit into your future after only one rough start. This creates the impression that young pitchers looking for their chance in Baltimore need to be perfect, which isn’t a mindset conducive to being successful. I also wonder what kind of message it sends to Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin, who gave their recommendation for Britton to be the next call-up after Josh Stinson’s failed start last week. A spot start for an organizational depth guy like Stinson or even a journeyman like Freddy Garcia is fine, but if the expectation all along was for Britton to only receive one chance, the club would have been better served leaving him in Norfolk and not messing with his head. Again, allowing six earned runs in six innings was far from acceptable, but it wasn’t the type of disastrous outing that warranted an immediate exit.

5. It’s safe to say Nolan Reimold has yet to adjust to his new role as the club’s primary designated hitter. Reimold has two home runs, five RBIs, and a 1.029 OPS in 29 plate appearances as the club’s left fielder, but the 29-year-old has posted an ugly .477 OPS with one homer and two RBIs in 52 plate appearances while serving in the DH spot. The problem for Reimold is the remarkable play of Nate McLouth, who has been more productive at the plate and is better defensively in the outfield. Manager Buck Showalter can’t justify taking McLouth out of left field, so Reimold needs to adjust to his new role, which can be difficult for individuals accustomed to being in the game as a defensive player. The good news for Reimold is that he’s remained healthy after undergoing spinal fusion surgery last year, but the Orioles must get better production from the designated hitter or will need to begin looking at other options for the role. It’s fair to acknowledge he’s still regaining strength and is adjusting to not having quite as much range of motion in his neck after the surgery, but Reimold would be the first to tell you he needs to be better at the plate.

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