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Tillman shut down again with latest shoulder discomfort

Posted on 12 March 2017 by Luke Jones

A weekend bullpen session was supposed to determine whether Oriole starting pitcher Chris Tillman would remain on track to return to the major league rotation by mid-April.

Instead, it never even took place.

After right shoulder soreness postponed his scheduled Saturday session for a day, the veteran right-hander experienced more discomfort playing long toss and was shut down on Sunday morning. The Orioles had hoped that the recent soreness was caused by an antibiotic, but reality appeared to set in for their best starter since 2012.

“We’ve got a pretty good feel for what the issue is structurally,” manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Florida after Baltimore’s 8-6 win over Minnesota. “I’m still very confident he’s going to pitch for us at some point this year.”

Tillman has dealt with the right shoulder issue since last August as he missed the better part of a month of action. The 28-year-old did return to make five starts at the end of the season, but he experienced discomfort once again in December when he began his offseason throwing program, prompting the Orioles medical team to give him a platelet-rich plasma injection. The setback made it clear that Tillman wouldn’t be ready to start on Opening Day for the fourth straight year, but the club had hoped the shoulder issue was behind him once and for all and that he would miss minimal time in 2017.

Now, a rotation that was already lacking quality depth will be tested without the man who’s posted a 3.81 ERA in 844 2/3 innings since the start of the 2012 season. The ailment is also cruel timing for Tillman as he’s scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Right-hander Kevin Gausman is expected to take the ball on Opening Day, but determining who will be Baltimore’s fifth starter is anyone’s guess three weeks before the season begins. The internal options could include right-handers Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, and Gabriel Ynoa as well as left-handers Jayson Aquino and Chris Lee.

Of course, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette could look for a veteran addition with Doug Fister and Colby Lewis headlining the list of still-available free agents.

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Chee’s POD’s & O’s Preview for July 24th, 2012

Posted on 24 July 2012 by Big Chee

In an attempt to preface my Baseball Plays of the Day, let me begin by saying I have placed bets on baseball games only a handful of times in my life. Most of the instances occured at the Hard Rock Cafe Sports Book last year in Punta Cana, which was an awesome time, by the way. I hung out with John Rocker, who, at the time, informed me of his belief that he could be an effective asset to the Orioles bullpen.  While I am sure it was the Budweiser talking, he came across like an okay guy to me.   As tempting as it was, I fought hard to stay away from the only relevant topic anyone wants to talk to him about; his racist/homophobic/sexist comments in regards to playing in NYC. After all, the guy, being on vacation like myself, was there to enjoy himself.

Anyway, here are my Inaugural MLB Plays of the Day for Tuesday:

Cleveland Indians/Detroit Tigers OVER  9  (BEST BET)

To say that the Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has been a disappointment in 2012 would be an understatement. Acquired at last year’s trade deadline from from the Colorado Rockies, the 28-year-old is rarely clocked at over 95 mph on the radar gun these days. In addition to his loss in velocity, he leads the AL in walks and sports a hideous 5.48 walks per nine innings. Jimenez’s July has been more atrocious as he boasts an ugly 7.48 ERA, surrendering 18 earned runs in just four starts.

Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera will be licking their lips when the Tigers roll into town Tuesday and should have no problem teeing off on Jimenez.  However, their teammate and Detroit starter tonight Doug Fister has also been up and down this season. Fister has won his last three starts after losing his previous three starts. Cleveland, winners against Baltimore last night to avoid a sweep, is batting .311 (84-for-270) against fastballs from pitchers like Fister since last season. The lone bright spot in the lineup is Shin-Soo Choo, who homered in two of the last three games.

I expect Detroit to put up roughly 7-8 runs in this contest.   Cleveland should manage at least three.

New York Mets to win ML (-108)

The Mets have certainly been free-falling as of late.  Losers of their last 10 of 11, their starting pitching has compiled a 6.41 ERA during that span.  Not to mention the devastating news that pitchers Johan Santana and Dillon Gee have hit the DL. Their sole victory during those 11 games was last Thursday when R.A. Dickey got the best of the Nats’ Gio Gonzalez. Dickey will go for his 12th consecutive winning decision in the rematch tonight.

Gonzalez hasn’t looked anything like an All-Star over his last five starts. The southpaw surrendered six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings pitched during last week’s matchup against the Mets, ballooning his ERA to 5.75 in July. To make matters worse, Dickey is a perfect 6-0 at home and should make scoring runs very difficult for the Nationals offense.

Dickey certainly has not been lights out either, but expect him to get enough support led by David Wright and a red hot Daniel Murphy to even this three game series at 1-1.

ORIOLES vs RAYS PREVIEW: July 24th, 2012

Wei-Yin Chen takes the mound for the Orioles tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays as the O’s try to rebound after failing to sweep Cleveland last night. The last time the Rays faced the Orioles with Chen on the mound, Rays’ starter David Price overshadowed him with a complete game shutout. Tonight, the Rays are not as fortunate to match Price against Chen once again, as they send Jeremy Hellickson to the mound. The Rays have lost all of Hellickson’s last five starts and his road ERA stands at 4.08. Chen, on the other hand, has an ERA a full point lower at home.  Taking three of four in Cleveland and winning their last five of six overall has given the O’s some much needed swagger after a slow start post All Star Break. The travel from Cleveland to Baltimore will not fatigue them very much either, so jet lag will not be a problem.   All signs point to Baltimore starting this three game set successfully with a win, thus further distancing themselves from the bottom three in the AL East.

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Unconventional turns ugly for Orioles’ second-half start

Posted on 14 July 2012 by Luke Jones

Friday night looked like a good opportunity for the Orioles to get back on track to begin the second half of their season.

Staff ace Jason Hammel was taking the hill against Detroit’s Doug Fister, who entered the night having surrendered 18 earned runs in his last 14 1/3 innings of work for the Tigers.

Right fielder Nick Markakis was returning to the lineup for the first time since late May, assuming the leadoff spot for the first time in his big-league career in an effort to boost the club’s abysmal .246 on-base percentage in the top spot this season. Regaining one of its best hitters looked like the perfect tonic for an offense that scored only 61 runs in its final 22 games before the All-Star break.

His return moved Chris Davis to left field for the first time in the major leagues, giving the club its optimal offense as the roster is presently constructed.

It looked unconventional, but maybe that was exactly what the Orioles needed to climb out of a 6-13 rut and start the second half on a high note.

Instead, the recent stretch turned even uglier with the sight of Hammel walking off the field with a right knee injury in the top of the fourth inning. The 29-year-old has dealt with soreness in that same knee for much of the season, but concern was apparent following the game in the quietest clubhouse reporters had witnessed all season.

“It took a little air out of the game,” said manager Buck Showalter while trying to remain optimistic. “One of our better pitchers had to leave early on. We had gotten back into it at 2-1 and it looked like he was going to settle in and keep us in the game.”

The Orioles (45-41) lost 7-2 to fall to just four games above the .500 mark for the first time since April 27, but a Saturday MRI on Hammel’s right knee will tell far more about the club’s second-half fate than a series-opening loss to the Tigers. Already having demoted three-fifths of the starting rotation to Triple-A Norfolk prior to the break, losing Hammel for an extended period would be a crippling blow to a club already desperate to add quality starting pitching.

Offensively, Baltimore looked as anemic as it did in the final month of the first half, making Fister look like an ace over seven innings in which he allowed three hits and struck out eight. No player exemplifies the Orioles’ struggles at the plate more than shortstop J.J. Hardy, who is now hitless in his last 23 at-bats and 18-for-130 (a .129 average) since June 6.

But Hardy is just one of many failing to get the job done at the plate.

“You want to start off [the second half] with some momentum,” Davis said. “Being at home, these are games we have to win. If we want to be serious about being a playoff team, we’ve got to win games at home, especially when we have our ace on the mound. Obviously, he left early on, but we’ve got to do a better job scoring runs.”

While Showalter waits for his offense to show signs of life — hopefully in a hurry — the Orioles will be on pins and needles waiting to hear Hammel’s fate. The pitcher did not have swelling in the knee after exiting and said through a team official he didn’t hear a pop or sound suggesting a tear when he injured himself delivering a 1-2 pitch to Brennan Boesch.

The Orioles are still saying the right things about refraining from panic, but human nature suggests it’s an impossibility at this point.

“Because of the way [Hammel’s] performed, I don’t want to throw dirt over him right now,” Showalter said. “We’re hoping that we hear something good. Our trainers and medical people have done a great job, along with Hamm. I see all the work he does between starts to keep it under control, and I’ll trust him. We’ll make a good decision, probably in the next day or so.”

Hearing Showalter speak of the air coming out of the game after Hammel’s injury and following it up with a metaphor about not wanting to throw dirt on a coffin tells you the struggles and frustration are even weighing on his mind at this point. His expressed optimism wasn’t very convincing and understandably so.

Are the Orioles now circling the drain with the potential loss of their best starting pitcher on top of the rotation struggles they were already experiencing?

Maybe not, but it’s sure feeling that way.

The Orioles need to reverse their fortunes in a hurry, but you wonder how they can if faced with a potential loss as crushing as this.

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