Tag Archive | "J.J. Hardy"

Orioles hoping to have Hardy back in lineup by Friday

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Orioles hoping to have Hardy back in lineup by Friday

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles hope the favorable results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam will lead to shortstop J.J. Hardy’s return to the lineup as early as Friday when they welcome the New York Yankees to Camden Yards for a day-night doubleheader.

Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston that Hardy met with Dr. Michael Jacobs and received a cortisone injection in the sacroiliac joint in his lower back on Tuesday. It’s similar to the treatment Hardy received in April when he experienced spasms that caused his back to lock up, and the MRI results showed no changes or structural concerns, according to the Baltimore skipper.

The injection typically requires 48 hours to take effect, which would presumably have Hardy ready to go by Friday in Showalter’s mind. Of course, the Orioles have taken great caution with their Gold Glove shortstop as a 10-game lead in the American League East entering Wednesday allows them to do.

Hardy originally experienced a lower back spasm that forced him out of a game on Sept. 1. After returning to the lineup for three contests last week, Hardy hasn’t played since last Friday as he continues to experience soreness. The 32-year-old missed six games in early April due to lower back spasms that were more severe than what he experienced last week.

In 480 at-bats this season, Hardy is hitting .281 with nine home runs, 26 doubles, and 52 runs batted in.

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Hardy to undergo MRI in Baltimore on Tuesday

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Hardy to undergo MRI in Baltimore on Tuesday

Posted on 08 September 2014 by Luke Jones

Dealing with a lingering back issue for over a week, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will fly back to Baltimore to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Tuesday morning.

The 32-year-old was not in Monday’s lineup for the opener of a three-game set against the Boston Red Sox and hasn’t played since Friday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Rays. Hardy originally left last Monday’s game against the Minnesota Twins due to a lower back spasm and has played in only one game since then.

Hardy told reporters in Boston that he is still dealing with soreness despite not experiencing further spasms. He added that he would likely try to play under different circumstances, alluding to the Orioles enjoying a 9 1/2 game lead in the American League East entering Monday.

The veteran took part in some baseball activities earlier in the day in Boston before discussing the idea of undergoing an MRI with manager Buck Showalter. The Orioles remain hopeful that he’ll return to the lineup for Friday’s doubleheader against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.

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Hardy out of Tuesday’s lineup, four more added to Orioles’ expanded roster

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Hardy out of Tuesday’s lineup, four more added to Orioles’ expanded roster

Posted on 02 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles began a three-game interleague series with the Cincinnati Reds without the starting shortstop in the starting lineup Tuesday.

After leaving Monday’s loss to the Minnesota Twins with back spasms, J.J. Hardy was on the bench as manager Buck Showalter wanted to give the veteran infielder an extra day to rest. Hardy told reporters following Monday’s game that the spasm did not cause his back to lock up like the one in April that forced him to miss five games.

Infielder Ryan Flaherty was starting at shortstop in place of Hardy against the Reds.

The Orioles continued their roster expansion Tuesday by recalling pitchers T.J. McFarland and Ryan Webb and catcher Steve Clevenger and selecting the contract of Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Quintin Berry. Showalter told reporters prior to Tuesday’s game that he doesn’t anticipate adding any other players unless injuries dictate a need.

While McFarland and Clevenger were recently on the roster before temporarily being optioned, Webb is making his return to the Orioles bullpen for the first time since being optioned on Aug. 1. The acquisition of left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller at the non-waiver trade deadline pushed Webb to the minor leagues where he posted a 4.76 ERA in 11 1/3 innings for the Tides. In 42 2/3 innings for the Orioles this season, the 28-year-old has pitched to a 3.80 ERA.

Berry will provide the Orioles another speedy option off the bench as he batted .285 with 25 stolen bases in 31 attempts in 112 games for Norfolk this season. Including the postseason, Berry is 29-for-29 stealing bases in his major league career, which includes stops in Detroit and Boston.

In order to make room for Berry on the 40-man roster, the Orioles placed third baseman Manny Machado on the 60-day disabled list. The 22-year-old Gold Glove winner underwent season-ending knee surgery last week.

In other injury-related news, first baseman and outfielder Steve Pearce continues to improve after suffering an abdominal strain last week. The Orioles and Pearce are hopeful that he’ll be ready to return this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg.

After tweaking his leg on his final pitch against the Twins on Monday afternoon, Miller is day to day and may have just experienced a cramp, according to Showalter.

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Hardy leaves Monday’s game with light back spasms

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Hardy leaves Monday’s game with light back spasms

Posted on 01 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Shortstop J.J. Hardy lefty Monday’s game with some light back spasms in the eighth inning of the Orioles’ 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Hardy went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and was replaced by utility infielder Ryan Flaherty after he came around to score on catcher Nick Hundley’s three-run homer to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. After missing five games earlier in April due to a similar ailment, Hardy did not seem overly concerned following the game and told reporters he expected to be in the lineup when the Orioles welcome the Cincinnati Reds to Camden Yards on Tuesday night.

“Earlier this year, it started with spasms, but then it completely locked up on me and I missed a week,” Hardy said. “It didn’t lock up on me [this time], so I think it’s just some light spasms. It’s probably a good thing that I got out of there.”

Hardy wondered if the heat finally hitting Baltimore over the weekend had a part in the spasms occurring. The infielder estimated he lost six or seven pounds from perspiring during Sunday’s game.

Manager Buck Showalter wanted to play it safe with his Gold Glove shortstop and described Hardy as “day to day” following the game.

“He kind of wanted to continue, but I didn’t want to take a chance of him getting any worse,” Showalter said. “I’m hoping it was just a sticky, hot day, and it caught up with him a little bit. I just wanted to be on the safe side and see what tomorrow brings. His last at-bat, I noticed he looked a little different. He said it had just tightened up on him a little bit.”

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Tillman quietly pitching like ace all summer for first-place Orioles

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Tillman quietly pitching like ace all summer for first-place Orioles

Posted on 26 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Five home runs and a sparkling defensive play by Adam Jones understandably drew the attention in the Orioles’ 9-1 win over Tampa Bay to snap a three-game losing streak Monday, but it’s been one of those seasons for starting pitcher Chris Tillman.

Improving his record to 11-5 and improving his streak of consecutive starts allowing three or fewer earned runs to 15, Tillman hasn’t received the same accolades he did a year ago when he was named to his first All-Star team. The 26-year-old doesn’t light up a box score with gaudy strikeout numbers, but his results have been consistent throughout the summer for the first-place Orioles.

“It comes back to being confident in my delivery,” said Tillman, who allowed one unearned run and three hits in seven innings against the Rays. “When you trust your delivery, you are not afraid to throw any pitch in any count.”

It was less than three months ago when Tillman’s mechanics were failing him as his early-inning woes knocked him out of games, making many wonder whether his impressive 16-win season from a year ago was more aberration than breakthrough. Following a disastrous one-inning start against Texas on June 5 — the second time in four outings in which he’d been chased before recording an out in the second inning — Tillman’s ERA had ballooned to 5.20, a mark higher than even that of the maligned Ubaldo Jimenez.

Whether it was finally getting over a nagging groin issue or simply working on repeating his delivery with pitching coach Dave Wallace, Tillman has been a different pitcher ever since while posting a 2.15 ERA in his last 100 2/3 innings spanning 15 starts. Only twice over the last 15 starts has Tillman failed to complete at least six innings, and the Orioles have gone 10-5 when Tillman has taken the hill over that stretch.

On Monday, Tillman lowered his season ERA to 3.41 and improved to 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three starts spanning 21 innings against the Rays in 2014.

“One of the keys is you see him carry a crisp fastball early in the game,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s had that for a while now — knock on wood. That’s usually an indicator. And the curveball is of use to him. He can get it in there.”

After so much discussion about Oakland acquiring Jon Lester and Detroit trading for David Price while the Orioles did not add a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, Tillman’s 2.15 ERA over his last 15 starts — close to a half season — stacks up favorably to Price (2.08 in 117 innings) and Lester (1.89 in 104 2/3 innings) over their last 15 outings split between their former and current clubs.

Tillman’s inconsistent start to the season forced him to play catchup for much of the summer, but there should be no debating who would take the ball for Showalter in Game 1 of a playoff series. That wasn’t the case three months ago when some clamored for Tillman to be placed on the disabled list or even to be sent to the bullpen to straighten out his woes.

Of course, the tall right-hander hasn’t been alone as the Baltimore pitching staff has sometimes carried an uneven offense that entered Monday ranking last in the American League in batting average (.231) and on-base percentage (.284) since the All-Star break while still leading the majors in home runs. But Tillman has been at the head of the class in a rotation that may not scare you in the same way that Oakland’s or Detroit’s does, but it’s a group that continues to produce results just like Tillman did Monday night.

“Every fifth day, all our pitchers have been good,” shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “But every fifth day when he takes the mound, we feel like we have a great chance to win.”

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Orioles exhale even as Machado goes to 15-day disabled list

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Orioles exhale even as Machado goes to 15-day disabled list

Posted on 13 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Even as Manny Machado officially went to the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, the Orioles could breathe a sigh of relief as it relates to the 22-year-old’s future and their World Series chances in 2014.

A season-ending injury to the slick-fielding third baseman wouldn’t have ended the Orioles’ hopes for the postseason — especially with a 6 1/2 game lead entering Wednesday night — or a deep run in October, but it would have been an enormous obstacle to overcome given Machado’s elite defensive ability and improved offense over the last two months. Baltimore apparently won’t have to worry about that possibility after Machado underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam and was diagnosed with a minor right knee ligament sprain despite a scary scene on Monday night that conjured memories of last September’s left knee injury at Tropicana Field that eventually required offseason surgery.

Manager Buck Showalter expressed optimism that Machado could be ready to return when eligible on Aug. 27, but even if that goal sounds ambitious, the Orioles expect to have the talented infielder back in time for the final push for their second postseason appearance in the last three years.

“Talking to all of the doctors including Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache who did the [left knee surgery], we’ve got a pretty good feel we have our arms around where we are with it,” Showalter said. “Hopefully, it will manage itself during that [15-day] period, and he’ll be back there or close to it. It’s not if now, it’s when, we think.”

Since returning from his infamous five-game suspension on July 5, Machado is hitting .351 with five homers and 15 RBIs while posting a .929 on-base plus slugging percentage in 122 plate appearances. And, of course, the 2013 Gold Glove winner has produced a slew of highlight defensive plays to help one of the best defensive clubs in baseball.

The Orioles initially went with Chris Davis at third base in the series finale against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, but the anticipated weekend return of shortstop J.J. Hardy from a sprained left thumb will likely lead to Ryan Flaherty shifting to third base. Norfolk infielder Cord Phelps was promoted to Baltimore to take Machado’s place and will be another option at third base in the meantime.

Asked about his manager’s hope that he might be able to return in two weeks, Machado initially reacted with surprise before taking a more conservative stance of wanting to be 100 percent when he returns to help the Orioles try to win their first American League East title since 1997.

“Whenever I feel good. Whenever I’m able to go out there and be Manny Machado,” the 2013 All-Star selection said. “I don’t know when that’s going to be. It could be tomorrow, it could be in a month, it could be three weeks. It’s something that is a feel thing. Like [the doctor] said yesterday, it’s more of how you feel once you get out there and once I do what I need to do.”

Long-term concerns will persist about Machado’s health as he’s now experienced substantial injuries to both knees despite being only 22, but the Orioles and Machado began feeling optimistic quickly Monday night when he was able to walk in the clubhouse without the aid of crutches and the initial shock and pain subsided.

Only time will tell whether Machado returns as quickly as the Orioles anticipate and produces at the same high level with October rapidly approaching, but Wednesday’s outcome was worlds better than the sickening feeling all involved parties experienced when he collapsed in the batter’s box in the third inning on Monday night.

“Obviously, it’s a great relief,” Machado said. “It’s one of those things that when it happens, things cross your mind and you assume, already, the worst. You really can’t assume anything until you actually see the results and it’s front of your face and you have a doctor next to you and helping you make the decision.

“I’m just glad it’s not as bad as we thought and not as bad as it is. So, get it stronger, get back, and keep running forward.”

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Orioles announce Machado dealing with “right knee ligament sprain”

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Orioles announce Machado dealing with “right knee ligament sprain”

Posted on 12 August 2014 by Luke Jones

A day after Manny Machado injured his right knee while taking a swing in the third inning of Monday’s win over the New York Yankees, the Orioles announced the third baseman was diagnosed with a right knee ligament sprain.

The official update didn’t offer much clarity on his status moving forward since the Orioles announced during Monday’s game that Machado had exited with a sprained right knee. More information will be revealed Wednesday, but executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told local reporters that Machado being placed on the disabled list is under consideration.

He underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Tuesday.

“I haven’t heard anything negative,” said manager Buck Showalter after Tuesday’s game against the Yankees was postponed due to rain. “Manny seems to be in good spirits. That’s good. So, we’ll see what the day brings. I’ve heard early stuff and whatever, but [I'll wait] until everyone weighs in. I feel more positive than negative, especially after talking to Manny.”

Machado fell to the ground after his knee bent awkwardly upon hitting a grounder to shortstop in the bottom of the third inning. He was helped off the field by head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and Showalter but was walking around in the clubhouse and spoke to reporters following the game.

In addition to playing exceptional defense at third base, Machado is hitting .278 with 12 home runs and 32 runs batted in over 327 at-bats this season. Since serving a five-game suspension stemming from a bat-throwing incident in early June, Machado is hitting .351 with five homers and 15 RBIs while posting a .929 on-base plus slugging percentage in 122 plate appearances.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy also underwent an MRI on his sprained left thumb on Tuesday, and the results indicated there are no long-term concerns regarding his status. The Orioles hope he will be available to play over the weekend when they begin a road trip in Cleveland.

Even if Machado is able to avoid going on the DL, the Orioles are considering calling up an infielder from Triple-A Norfolk with Steve Lombardozzi and Jimmy Paredes among the candidates to be promoted.

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Hardy scratched from Sunday’s lineup with sprained left thumb

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Hardy scratched from Sunday’s lineup with sprained left thumb

Posted on 10 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Originally slated to start as the Orioles tried to complete a three-game sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals, shortstop J.J. Hardy was scratched from Sunday’s lineup due to a sprained left thumb.

The announcement came minutes before first pitch as Ryan Flaherty slid over to the shortstop position after originally being tabbed to play second base. Rookie Jonathan Schoop was inserted in the order at second base before the Orioles fell 8-3 to the Cardinals.

“Probably could have [played],” Showalter said. “[He] swung the bat. He was going to make a little adjustment in his grip. Obviously, his left hand doesn’t bother him defensively. But, the wrong jam shot [could have aggravated it].”

The news came with Hardy swinging a hot bat as he was 4-for-7 with two homers and five runs batted in over the first two games of the series in which the Orioles outscored St. Louis by a 22-5 margin. It’s been a difficult year at the plate for the veteran shortstop, who will be 32 later this month and has hit only six homers in 438 plate appearances after clubbing 77 in his first three seasons in Baltimore.

Hardy expressed disappointment following the game and acknowledged he may have to play through some soreness in the immediate future. He injured the thumb while sliding into home plate during Saturday’s win but remained in the game.

The infielder told reporters he had issues gripping the bat as well as opening and closing his glove during Sunday’s pre-game activities, which led to Showalter pulling him from the lineup.

“We’ll see how it is tomorrow. I have a feeling that I’ll probably play through some pain,” Hardy said. “If I can, I will. It’s frustrating anytime you’re dealing with your hands. Hopefully, today’s the only day and I’ll come in tomorrow and be able to get through it.”

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Waiting the hardest part for Orioles’ slumbering offense

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Waiting the hardest part for Orioles’ slumbering offense

Posted on 19 May 2014 by Luke Jones

Memorial Day is rapidly approaching, which brings the unofficial end of the mantra uttered countless times to explain an Orioles offense that continues to sputter over the first seven weeks of the 2014 season.

“It’s still early” doesn’t fly anymore as the season has passed the quarter pole and Baltimore ranks 13th in runs, 12th in on-base percentage, ninth in home runs, and eighth in slugging percentage in the American League. Of course, the Orioles’ free-swinging tendencies and 10th-ranked on-base percentage from a season ago made it clear that the lineup had its flaws, but no one could forecast such a dramatic power outage from a club that led the majors in long balls and was fourth in the AL in runs during the 2013 season.

Save for free-agent acquisition Nelson Cruz, whose 12 home runs are twice the output of any other player on the roster, the Orioles’ power outage has been felt up and down the lineup.

Chris Davis has only three home runs in 30 games after hitting a club-record 53 a season ago. Since returning from a strained oblique on May 11, the first baseman is hitting just .179 and has been out in front of nearly everything, evident by his four groundouts to the right side in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City, instead of waiting to drive the ball the other way like he does when at his best.

J.J. Hardy is without a long ball after hitting 77 in his first three seasons in Baltimore. Early-season back and hamstring issues appear to be in the rear-view mirror, but the All-Star shortstop has yet to find his usual power stroke.

Manny Machado still hasn’t hit a double — he hit a league-leading 51 last year — and has only one home run in his first 73 plate appearances after starting the season on the 15-day disabled list and completing his recovery from offseason knee surgery. The 21-year-old deserves the benefit of the doubt after a seven-month recovery from last September’s injury, but his .240 average in the second half last year reminds us that the third baseman is far from a finished product even when healthy.

Injuries have impacted all three, but the likes of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have also tailed off in the power department in comparison to their career averages. Of course, the order hasn’t been helped by the elbow injury to catcher Matt Wieters, who was off to the best offensivee start of his career prior to being placed on the disabled list earlier this month.

So, what is manager Buck Showalter to do?

Short of taking a closer look at alternative options at second base, catcher, and left field (or designated hitter if the Orioles elect to have Cruz play in the outfield), there isn’t much to be done except continuing to run the aforementioned players out there on a daily basis.

For some perspective, Davis hit only five homers through May 19 of the 2012 season before ultimately hitting 33, a reminder that a hot stretch or two would put any of these players back on a favorable pace in the power department. In Davis’ case, reaching 53 home runs was always going to be extremely difficult, but he’s still more than capable of posting big numbers in 2014 despite the slow start.

The club’s poor on-base percentage and inability to work counts are valid criticisms and a conscious effort should be made to enhance those areas, but only marginal improvement should be expected when you’re talking about veteran hitters who’ve carried a given approach — flawed as it may be — throughout their careers. Free swingers don’t suddenly transform themselves into selective hitters at the big-league level unless you want to stunt their biggest strengths in the process.

If Showalter wants to change the mindset of veterans who might be pressing, a shakeup of the order might be a simple way to rejuvenate a group clearly capable of much better. Here’s only one example of what could be done:

RF Markakis
DH Cruz
1B Davis
CF Jones
LF Delmon Young/Steve Pearce
C Steve Clevenger
3B Machado
SS Hardy
2B Jonathan Schoop

Such an order would provide Davis with a better on-base percentage option in front of him while also taking some pressure off Machado as he tries to get his 2014 season on track. Showalter also prefers keeping his lineup balanced with right-handed and left-handed hitters to make it more difficult for opposing managers to match up with their bullpen arms late in games.

This alignment would call for Young or Pearce to be in the lineup regularly, which is preferred if the Orioles are to continue carrying both on the 25-man roster. Neither has played much since Davis’ return from the DL.

Are those suggested changes dramatic? Of course not, but there is only so much you can try as a manager when so many core members of your lineup are sputtering. Staying the course sounds cliched, but it’s the only real choice in trusting that proven track records will ultimately prevail over the results of the first 42 games of the season — as concerning as they might be.

Hitting the “Lough” point

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Hardy receives cortisone injection, undergoes MRI on back

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Hardy receives cortisone injection, undergoes MRI on back

Posted on 11 April 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Shortstop J.J. Hardy was not in the lineup as the Orioles began a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, but measures taken on Thursday appear to have the infielder ready to return over the weekend.

Missing six of the last seven games with lower back spasms, Hardy underwent magnetic resonance imaging and received a cortisone injection for his back and was instructed to rest after previously planning to work out at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on the off-day. The 31-year-old returned to the ballpark Friday to take infield and batting practice and expects to be back in the lineup on Saturday, a sentiment shared by manager Buck Showalter.

“I’ve made a bunch of big strides the last couple days,” Hardy said. “I came in today early and took some groundballs and took some swings. It all felt good. I’ll go through a normal day of practice and anticipate being in there tomorrow.”

Showalter added that Hardy was “more available” to come off the bench in the series opener than he was in the final game of the Yankees series. Ryan Flaherty has been filling in at shortstop with rookie Jonathan Schoop handling third base and Steve Lombardozzi playing second.

Hardy said his history of back issues earlier in his career has caused him and the training staff to take a cautious approach in not wanting to come back too soon and risk the back spasms being a recurring issue throughout the season.

“If I don’t play today, that will be six games and I can still play 156,” Hardy said. “That is kind of my goal. Trying to rush it and miss another six games because I tried to come back too early is definitely something I don’t want to do.”

In four games this season, the two-time Gold Glove Award winner is 5-for-15.

Outfielder David Lough was once again out of the lineup on Friday, but he is available off the bench, according to Showalter. He underwent concussion tests in Baltimore on Wednesday before returning to New York for the series finale and being used as a defensive replacement.

It remains uncertain what exactly is causing Lough’s symptoms at different points since mid-March, but Showalter said the organization is confident it is not because of a concussion.

Third baseman Manny Machado is scheduled to have two at-bats in a simulated game in Sarasota on Saturday, an encouraging step in his recovery from offseason knee surgery.

The 21-year-old will not run the bases but will face veteran left-hander Johan Santana at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. Machado has yet to begin sprinting, but his participation in a sim game can’t be viewed as anything but good news.

Machado will be eligible to go on a minor league rehab assignment lasting up to 20 games once he is fully cleared to play, but it remains uncertain when that will happen.

Right-handed pitching prospect Dylan Bundy threw 35 fastballs off a regular mound in Sarasota on Friday as he continues his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery last year.

Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb was scheduled to throw out the first pitch for Friday night’s game.

Here are Friday night’s lineups:

TORONTO
LF Melky Cabrera
2B Maicer Izturis
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
1B Adam Lind
C Dioner Navarro
CF Colby Rasmus
3B Brett Lawrie
SS Ryan Goins

SP Dustin McGowan (0-1, 13.50 ERA)

BALTIMORE
RF Nick Markakis
DH Delmon Young
1B Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
LF Nelson Cruz
2B Steve Lombardozzi
SS Ryan Flaherty
3B Jonathan Schoop

SP Chris Tillman (1-0, 1.35 ERA)

Follow WNST on Twitter for updates and analysis throughout the evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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