Tag Archive | "manny machado"

Machado issues apology for bat-throwing incident over weekend

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Machado issues apology for bat-throwing incident over weekend

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Luke Jones

Prior to Monday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado issued an apology for his actions over the weekend against the Oakland Athletics.

Machado completed an interview with MASN but was not made available to any other media outlets for questions besides the team-owned network. The 21-year-old did not specifically mention the bat-throwing incident that occurred after Oakland pitcher Fernando Abad twice threw inside toward his knees, actions that prompted both players to be ejected from Sunday’s game.

He said in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s game that the bat slipped out of his hands but provided a more regrettable tone with his words a day later.

“I definitely had a nice rest at home and seeing the replay over and over again,” Machado said. “I definitely want to apologize. I want to apologize to all my teammates, my coaching staff, the Orioles organization, and Oakland and to our fans for the way I acted and overreacted on that.”

Machado met with teammates in a players-only meeting on Monday afternoon, and manager Buck Showalter told reporters that the young infielder was showing remorse for his behavior that started with his reaction to a tag on the bases from Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson on Friday night.

Major League Baseball had yet to rule on any discipline, but Machado was all but guaranteed to receive a suspension for his actions on Sunday, which prompted plenty of negative reaction nationally and locally. The 2013 All-Star selection was unsure when asked if he expected to be suspended for his behavior but acknowledged the possibility.

“Just looking over the replay, it was a frustrating weekend,” Machado said. “We were playing against one of the best teams in all of Major League Baseball. We’re in the heat of it. We’re trying to make the playoffs. We’re trying to win a World Series, and it was a frustrating weekend. I just let my emotions get the best of me.”

Oakland players were harsh in their reactions following Sunday’s game, taking issue with Machado failing to acknowledge or apologize for two different back swings that hit catcher Derek Norris. Norris left the game following the second one to strike him in the back of the head.

Showalter even acknowledged on Monday that he noticed Machado didn’t apologize to Norris for what was perceived to be accidental contact both times.

“I want to apologize to Derek,” Machado said. “That wasn’t intentional. I didn’t realize how hard I had hit him with the bat. I have a tough follow-through, a really long follow-through. At that point, with how the weekend was going, I didn’t really think he would have cared about whether I had showed emotion for him. I do want to apologize for him being taken out of the game.”

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

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

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Drew Forrester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s embarrassing himself.

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

Apparently not.

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Is it time to be concerned about Manny Machado?

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Is it time to be concerned about Manny Machado?

Posted on 30 May 2014 by Luke Jones

Anyone who expected Orioles third baseman Manny Machado to return from left knee surgery and simply pick up where he left off was hoping for too much.

With so much attention devoted this offseason to the rehabilitation of his surgically-repaired left knee and the question of when Machado would be ready to return in 2014, many forgot that the 2013 All-Star selection and Gold Glove winner is still only 21 years old and far from a finished product. That’s what made such a disruptive offseason so concerning in terms of his development and ability to continue working on his craft.

Through his first 25 games and 112 plate appearances entering Friday’s game, Machado is hitting just .216 with a .555 on-base plus slugging percentage and three extra-base hits after clubbing a league-leading 51 doubles and collecting 68 extra-base hits in his first full season in the majors. Recognized as one of the best defensive players in baseball, Machado has also committed six errors in 87 chances after making only 13 all last season.

Some rust was certainly expected for a talent still more than a month shy of his 22nd birthday, but is it now time to be concerned about Machado’s poor start?

Considering how exceptional Machado’s defense has been from the moment he made his major league debut late in the 2012 season, there’s no doubt that his slow start in the field will turn around. The third baseman has made his fair share of exceptional plays since returning on May 1 and will undoubtedly find the consistency he displayed in his first two seasons in Baltimore.

But Machado’s struggles at the plate aren’t new to 2014 after he struggled significantly down the stretch last year. The right-handed hitter was batting .321 with an .839 OPS on June 30 to seal his first invitation to the Midsummer Classic, but his second half was a different story.

Machado hit only .239 and posted a .638 OPS from the start of July until a gruesome knee injury ended his first full season in the big leagues on Sept. 23, 2013. Despite his impressive gap power, Machado showed flaws in his plate discipline throughout his first full year by drawing only 29 walks in 710 plate appearances.

Strangely enough, Machado has shown better patience at the plate this season, already drawing eight walks and seeing 3.87 pitches per plate appearance compared to 3.53 last year. Looking beyond the conventional statistics, Machado has profiled as a much different hitter in the kind of contact he’s making so far this season.

Machado is hitting fewer line drives (17.9 percent of balls in play to 20.6 percent last year) and fly balls (23.8 percent to 32.3 percent last year) and many more grounders (58.3 percent to 47.1 percent last year), which doesn’t bode well when trying to hit for any kind of power. Such a high propensity for hitting the ball on the ground may work for a speedster such as Houston’s Jose Altuve, but Machado isn’t fast enough to leg out many infield hits and certainly has the frame to drive the ball with authority.

The third baseman’s contact percentage (79.9 percent to 80.1 percent) is nearly identical to what it was last year, so it’s not a matter of Machado swinging and missing more often, but you do wonder if rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee has zapped some strength from his legs that’s necessary for driving the ball. Even as he was struggling in the second half last season, Machado never had a groundball percentage higher than 53 percent in any one month, making what we’ve seen so far this year more perplexing.

Manager Buck Showalter sliding Machado to the No. 7 spot in the order on Thursday was a clear indicator that the Orioles are concerned enough about his slow start to try to alleviate some pressure and allow him to get on track. His defense is too much of a strength to even remotely consider sending him down to the minor leagues unless his slow start at the plate would continue for an extended period of time, but the Orioles need more production from a player who showed the ability to be an elite hitter in the first half of last season.

It’s important not to read too much into his first month of 2014 alone, but Machado is hitting only .234 in his last 411 at-bats going back to last July and is showing few signs of a hitter on the cusp of driving the ball the way he needs to.

Machado certainly isn’t alone in his slow start as J.J. Hardy is still looking for his first home run, but even the shortstop’s .361 slugging percentage dwarfs the .284 mark posted by the third baseman. For some context, the constantly-criticized Ryan Flaherty even has six extra-base hits — and a higher OPS — in 97 at-bats compared to Machado’s three in 102 at-bats.

The third overall pick of the 2010 draft certainly is one of several hitters still trying to find his way, but Machado’s continued development is critical to the club’s future with the likes of Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, and Hardy all becoming free agents over the next two offseasons. Machado and center fielder Adam Jones will be counted on to be two of the main pillars of the Baltimore lineup after the 2015 season when the makeup of the roster is likely to be very different.

The first priority was making sure Machado was healthy once again, but the Orioles need to start seeing more signs of the player he’s capable of being to improve their chances of contending in the American League East.

 

 

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B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles Lineup Makeover

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B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles Lineup Makeover

Posted on 23 May 2014 by Brett Dickinson

The week in Orioles baseball has been a memorable one, for better and for worse. After last week’s difficult 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals in which Adam Jones and Chris Davis stranded the tying run at third, questions surrounded manager Buck Showalter’s stubbornness with his everyday lineup. With Manny Machado playing every day and batting second, the Orioles most consistent hitter, Nelson Cruz, has now been moved down to the fifth spot.

After a week in which the Orioles have actually put runs on the board with Showalter’s “stubborn” lineup, the team has won just once. Cruz continues to impress, while it appears that Jones has settled in to the three hole with 8 hits in his last 4 games. Which begs the question: Should the Orioles make major changes to their lineup? 

 

FOR By: Brett Dickinson 

Though the Orioles had a decent week at the plate, that does not change the long-term reality for some “stars” in this current lineup.  At the top, Nick Markasis has been steady getting on base as needed with some many run producers batting behind him.  Manny Machado has struggled through his first several weeks, coming off a serious knee injury and missing out on the entire off season.  It may be hindering the team now, but getting the young superstar comfortable is much more important for this team’s success later on.  Hopes are he can start to turn things around and be the same type of player that filled the two hole for the Orioles last season.

But the heart of the lineup is where I see Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter really struggling with his inner demons.  He is consistently not putting his best hitters in the best situations to succeed at their highest level.  Nelson Cruz is certainly an extremely early MVP candidate, yet is left batting in the fifth spot.  Showalter has been loyal to a fault in his tenure with the organization; clearly evident with his handling of Jim Johnson and the closer role last season. The same can be said with the team’s highest paid player (and supposed team leader) center fielder Adam Jones.

When everyone watching the game knows the scouting report on a player (including my own wife, who knows baseball, but doesn’t follow it as intently as most fans), then there is a problem. Just the other night Adam Jones came to the plate; her exact quote as a slider was thrown to the outside corner, into the dirt:

“I’m surprised he didn’t swing at that one…”

Adam JonesJones plate discipline this season has been down right despicable.  Yet he still bats third in a lineup that has struggled to consistently score runs all season.  Buck needs to stop worrying about hurting his feelings and tell the young man he is moving down a couple spots.  It should not matter that he is the “face of the franchise;” if that were true, he should do what’s best for the team without hesitation.  Ideally, Chris Davis should move into his slot, because though he does not have the massive power numbers of 2013, he is getting on base at an alarmingly high rate, taking an massive amount of walks in the process.

This would lead to Nelson Cruz batting cleanup, where he has the potential to come to the plate with runners on base each and every time.  Doesn’t that seem like the smart decision for a guy that among the tops in the entire MLB in home runs and RBI? Moving the free swinging Jones down to the fifth spot should not hurt his approach either, because he really doesn’t have one at this point.  Whether he bats third, fifth or ninth, he is going to swing and swing a lot.

Time to stop being loyal to a player’s past performance and looking at his current contributions Buck!

 

AGAINST By: Barry Kamen 

In the month of May, it is very easy to overreact to things that happen during the course of an entire baseball season. Sure, no Oriole fan likes to see the middle of the order fall flat in a close game. But every fan LOVES it when 3 Orange Crushes leave PNC Park. There are ebbs and flows to every season. The goal of the Orioles in May is consistency, ensuring that the peaks and the valleys are not drastically far away from each other.

Manny MachadoOne way to ensure is consistency is with the lineup. The criticism surrounding Adam Jones is largely unwarranted. The free-swinger is what he is; a .280 hitter with above-average home run and RBI numbers for his position. Jones doesn’t walk, and he is going to strike out more than he should. Fan frustration should not be with Jones, but with the injuries that have plagued the team all season. With Manny Machado’s bat starting to come around after joining the team at the beginning of May, the entire lineup has produced as a result. Assuming no other injuries occur, the Orioles have one of the best 1-5 lineups in all of Major League Baseball. Not only is the top and middle of the order talented, but there are very few mysteries associated with each player. The biggest question mark could very well be Chris Davis, as he works to ensure that last year’s production was not a fluke.

Rather than tinker with the lineup, depth becomes the next issue for Showalter to deal with. David Lough has played himself out of the lineup, and the end might be nearing for the former Royal. With Delmon Young and Steve Pearce in the fold, there is very little reason to keep Lough. It will not be long before Steve Lombardozzi returns to the majors, and could make a significant impact at the bottom of the order. Until then, tread water in May, and prepare for the high tide in September.

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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

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Orioles Twins

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Why Orioles Road Woes Don’t Spell Trouble

Posted on 05 May 2014 by Brandon Sacks

The Baltimore Orioles lost two out of three games to the Minnesota Twins after coming off a strong double header against the Pirates.  The Orioles scored  six runs during the entire Twins series and used a very depleted bullpen that was coming off short rest from the double header.  As the Orioles head to Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, fans should think about one thing – there is no real problem yet with the Orioles.

You may ask how scoring six runs during a three game series is not actually a problem or how using too many pitchers each game is not a problem.  While there were some problems with the series just played, there haven’t been any serious problems as of yet.  Here’s why.

Ubaldo Jimenez, the $50 million free agent signed in the off season, might finally be coming to mid-season form.  While his performance was sub-par during his first few starts, he finally notched his first win as a Baltimore pitcher.  In his outing in Minnesota, he went 7.1IP and fanned 10 in the Orioles 3-0 shutout of the Twins.  Jimenez, often criticized as being a massive bust by the Orioles organization, looks to be trying to prove his haters wrong.  This last outing may just be a glimpse of why the Orioles signed him for the next four years to be one of our starting pitchers.

Manny Machado is back and ready to play every inning.  Back in September, we did not know how long it would take for Manny to come back and be ready to play again.  After starting in his first game of the season with the Orioles in the second game of the double header against the Pirates, he has shown that he is absolutely ready to get back into the swing of things.  Since coming back, he has made plays that fans would not have expected Schoop or Flaherty to make in the same position.  Once he finds his swing and starts hitting again like he did last year before the injury, Manny will once again become one of the premiere players in the league.

The Orioles currently sport a 15-14 record and are second place in the AL East.  There is no team in sole possession of last place at the moment because three are tied at 15-17.  Toronto, Boston, and Tampa Bay are all two games back from the division leader New York Yankees.  The Yankees currently have a 16-14 record, which is a half game up on the Orioles.  What’s the point here?  The Orioles are in the toughest and closest division in baseball.  While losing one or two games may swing them out of second place, picking up a game or two on the division leader would put the birds in first place.  One game is all it will take to thrust the Orioles into first place in the division.

The bottom line here is that the Orioles are not in as bad of shape as they could be considering the outcomes of some of the recent games.  If fans really want to worry about the team, that should wait until the middle of the season.  With Chris Davis coming along with his oblique strain, it isn’t long before the Orioles have a completely healthy starting lineup, which could be one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball once the bats come alive.  The Orioles are still in a pretty good spot, and until the middle of June, we won’t really be able to tell what to expect from the O’s as the season continues to progress.  Until then, we can keep cheering for the birds as they look to win every series from here on out.

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Lombardozzi squeezed out of infield picture with Machado’s return

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Lombardozzi squeezed out of infield picture with Machado’s return

Posted on 01 May 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles had a decision to make about the state of their infield with the much-anticipated return of third baseman Manny Machado, and Steve Lombardozzi ended up being the odd man out on Thursday.

Despite hitting .292 in 72 at-bats, the 25-year-old infielder was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Machado on the 25-man roster, raising a few eyebrows among fans who expected the light-hitting Ryan Flaherty or the recently-recalled Jemile Weeks to be demoted. As is typically the case when faced with these decisions, manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette sided with the stronger defensive player.

Weeks provides an element of speed that the Orioles are taking advantage of for the time being.

“I think where we are as a club and what are needs are going to be with Manny coming back, just initially [Jemile] might fit us a tad better, but we’ll see,” Showalter said. “But that’s a good tough decision. Two switch-hitting middle infielders.”

With Machado and shortstop J.J. Hardy coming off injuries and the first base position in flux with Chris Davis on the disabled list, versatility is a must off the bench and Flaherty has the ability to play quality defense at all four infield positions. Lombardozzi appeared in 19 games this season at second base but did not play another position as there are questions about his arm strength to play on the left side of the infield.

Of course, the Orioles could revisit the decision if Hardy and Machado play a couple weeks without any injury concerns, which would decrease the urgency for having Flaherty at their immediate disposal off the bench.

For what it’s worth, Lombardozzi’s career .638 on-base plus slugging percentage is only slightly higher than Flaherty’s .636. Of course, the latter is off to a poor start at the plate for the second year in a row and is hitting just .188.

Veteran Steve Pearce was officially back in the Orioles clubhouse Thursday and made the start at first base in Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While right fielder Nick Markakis and Flaherty could still factor into the puzzle at first base, Pearce figures to receive an extensive opportunity as he’s played 94 games at the position in the major leagues.

“Stevie’s been hitting, he’s stayed active during the time,” said Showalter, referencing the fact that Pearce was designated for assignment on April 22. “I don’t think he ever left Baltimore.”

Machado did not start in the opening game of the doubleheader as Showalter and the 21-year-old both agreed it would be too aggressive to try to play 18 innings in his 2014 season debut. The Baltimore manager didn’t want Machado playing in Game 1 and sitting around all evening before coming off the bench to play in the late innings if necessary.

The third baseman said he didn’t do anything special over the last three days other than his normal in-season workouts and admitted he would feel some nerves before taking the field in Game 2. Showalter quipped that Thursday night would be Machado’s Opening Day after the All-Star break, referencing the club’s three straight days off because of inclement weather.

“It’s actually been kind of good for him to take his breath and get settled here in the locker room instead of traveling back and forth to Frederick,” Showalter said. “There’s nobody more excited today than Manny.”

The Orioles will activate left-handed relief pitcher Troy Patton after the first game of the doubleheader, meaning they will need to make a roster move before the nightcap. Showalter acknowledged having a roster move in mind and an intention to keep the roster at 12 pitchers, but that was dependent on how the pitching staff made it through the opening game.

Candidates to be sent out included long reliever Josh Stinson — who would need to be designated for assignment — and fellow reliever Evan Meek, who has an option remaining.

In injury-related news, veteran left-hander Johan Santana was able to touch 86 to 87 miles per hour on a few occasions while pitching in a simulated game in Sarasota on Monday. Trying to make a comeback from shoulder surgery, Santana’s velocity has steadily increased since he was signed in the spring.

Outfielder Nolan Reimold took batting practice Wednesday in Sarasota as he continues to rehab his surgically-repaired neck on the 60-day disabled list.

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Tuesday night’s Orioles-Pirates game postponed due to rain

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Tuesday night’s Orioles-Pirates game postponed due to rain

Posted on 29 April 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — On the night Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was poised to make his return from the disabled list, Mother Nature had other ideas as Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was postponed due to rain.

The game is currently scheduled to be made up Thursday at 7:05 p.m., but Wednesday’s forecast looked even worse as rain continued to hit the Baltimore area. With the teams sharing a common off-day on Thursday, the possibility exists that a day-night doubleheader will be required to play the two-game interleague series.

Weather permitting, starting pitcher Chris Tillman is now scheduled to take the hill on Wednesday night with Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton opposing him.

For fans holding tickets for Tuesday night’s game, no exchange is required as they can be used for Thursday’s game. The Orioles provided the following additional information regarding Tuesday’s postponement:

Eutaw Street gates will open at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, with remaining ballpark gates opening at 5:30 p.m. Ballpark parking lots open at 3:30 p.m. and prepaid parking permits dated for April 29 are valid for Thursday’s game.

Fans unable to attend the May 1 makeup game can exchange their April 29 tickets for any remaining home game this season on a “dollar-for-dollar” basis. All exchanges are subject to availability and must be completed by June 30. Complimentary tickets are non-exchangeable. StubHub tickets are also non-exchangeable, but may be resold on StubHub up until 7:05 p.m. on May 1. All tickets are valid for the makeup game.

Ticket exchanges can be performed at the Box Office or submitted in writing along with the original tickets and mailed via certified mail by June 30, 2014 to:

Baltimore Orioles
Attention: April 29 Rainout
333 West Camden Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

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Machado poised to make much-awaited return from DL

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Machado poised to make much-awaited return from DL

Posted on 29 April 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — An impressive weekend in Frederick was apparently all the Orioles needed to see from Manny Machado.

Prior to the postponement of Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the All-Star third baseman was set to be activated from the disabled list, but he will wait at least another day as rain continued to hit the Baltimore area. The gloomy weather forecast didn’t diminish the good news of the 21-year-old’s recovery from offseason knee surgery being complete.

Machado went 8-for-12 with five extra-base hits and a stolen base in three games for the Keys as team officials traveled to their Single-A affiliate to determine how close he was to being ready. A rainout on Monday prevented Machado from receiving more at-bats as the Keys’ scheduled designated hitter, but there was increasing speculation over the last couple days that the club wouldn’t wait much longer to activate the 2013 Gold Glove winner.

“I felt great. [My] body feels good,” Machado said. “I needed to work on some things and got it done. Go on to the next step. It’s about steps. I thought I was mentally and physically ready to come up here and be part of this team again, and here I am.

Manager Buck Showalter reminded reporters on Tuesday that Machado received extensive at-bats against live pitching in extended spring training contests and simulated games prior to his brief minor league rehab assignment. Machado had roughly 50 plate appearances, according to the Baltimore skipper.

Machado’s return comes just over seven months after suffering a season-ending knee injury at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sept. 23.

“It was a baseball decision, not a medical decision anymore,” said Showalter about activating Machado for the Pittsburgh series. “We’ll take each day as it comes and get feedback from him and his knee will give him feedback.”

Showalter has dismissed any notion that the oblique injury suffered by first baseman Chris Davis accelerated the timetable for Machado’s activation and didn’t seem concerned about him being in the lineup despite the wet conditions that eventually forced Tuesday’s postponement.

The Orioles will view Machado as an everyday player immediately but will be flexible with his workload as they would for any player who might have a physical need arise over the course of a full season.

“I’m here to play baseball,” Machado said. “If it’s snow, if it’s rain, whatever. I’m just here to play. Whatever the climate throws out there, I’m going out there to play no matter what.”

Despite Tuesday’s postponement, the Orioles officially re-signed veteran Steve Pearce to boost their depth at the first base position with Davis sidelined until at least May 11. With Davis placed on the 15-day disabled list and the Orioles not immediately announcing a corresponding roster move on Sunday, Pearce officially took his place on the 25-man roster Tuesday night.

In addition to creating a roster spot for Machado on Wednesday, Baltimore will also need to make room later this week for left-handed reliever Troy Patton, who will be returning from a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use. He has one game remaining to serve on his suspension before he can return to the active roster.

 

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Schoop should stick with Orioles in wake of Davis injury

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Schoop should stick with Orioles in wake of Davis injury

Posted on 28 April 2014 by Luke Jones

It all appeared to be coming together as third baseman Manny Machado started his rehab assignment and the Orioles anticipated having their full lineup together for the first time all season.

Of course, a left oblique strain suffered by Chris Davis has delayed that vision indefinitely, but Machado is expected to return this week, instantly boosting the infield defense as well as helping an offense now devoid of Davis’ Herculean power. Even with the All-Star third baseman’s return, the injury to Davis forces manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette to alter the way in which they view the starting lineup.

Even if Nick Markakis proves capable of handling the defensive duties of first base — his errant throw on a rundown play led to a run in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City — he’s a significant downgrade offensively just like any realistic replacement would be. It’s why the Orioles may need to take chances elsewhere in trying to make up for Davis’ absence.

In addition to Nelson Cruz filling a full-time outfield role with Markakis in the infield, the Orioles would be wise to continue playing Jonathan Schoop at second base after Machado officially returns. His future appeared to be the club’s biggest roster decision a few days ago as the argument could be made that Schoop needs more seasoning and both Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Flaherty are stronger defensive players.

But when missing a player of Davis’ ability, the Orioles would benefit from Schoop’s offensive upside while also remembering he’s handled 30 chances at second base without an error. The 22-year-old has struggled bouncing back and forth between second and third base due to the Orioles’ injury-related needs in the first month of the season, but his four errors have all come while playing the hot corner.

“He’s going to turn the double play well above average with arm strength,” said Showalter when asked to assess Schoop’s play at second base. “That’s one thing that steps out at you. He could profile down the road as an offensive run producer that can play the middle infield. We’ll see. I feel confident that Jonathan is going to be as good as he’s capable of being. That’s what makes me feel good about him.”

Truthfully, his offensive numbers don’t overwhelm you as Schoop is hitting just .241 and has struck out 26 times in his first 82 plate appearances as major league pitchers continue to challenge him with breaking balls, but his numbers dwarf Flaherty’s paltry .188 average and he has more power (.405 slugging percentage) than Lombardozzi (.333), who appears best suited for a utility role.

We’ve seen with Showalter’s patient handling of Flaherty that defense can trump offensive production with the rest of the lineup so dangerous, but the Orioles must be more judicious in that approach with Davis missing from the order. Schoop has given no reason to indicate he can’t play a solid second base — the position at which he had the most experience in the minor leagues — and is fifth on the club in total bases and first in doubles.

The rockets he hit in New York and Toronto earlier this month for his two home runs show what kind of power potential he brings to the table. It’d be interesting to see what he can do without the unrest of switching positions on a regular basis weight on his mind.

“You can be in the big leagues 10 years and it’s never going to be easy, but I think the game’s slowing down a little bit,” Schoop said. “I’ve still got to get better. In situations, I’ve got to think what I’m going to do before the ball comes to me. I’ve got to get better.”

A few days ago, it would have been easy for the Orioles to send Schoop to Triple-A Norfolk and settle on the strong defensive platoon of Flaherty and Lombardozzi at second base while watching the rest of the lineup wreak havoc on opposing pitchers. But with Davis sidelined and his teammates trying to pick up the slack, the second base position needs to provide some of the offensive lifting.

While far from a finished product, the Curacao native has shown more than enough flashes for the Orioles to take a chance that he’ll be up to the task.

“I’m glad he’s on our side. He’s got a chance to be a pretty good one,” Showalter said. “But we’ll see where he settles out and see how things go with Manny in the next few days.”

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