Tag Archive | "miguel gonzalez"

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Orioles reinstate Gonzalez from paternity list, send Pearce to DL

Posted on 21 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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With right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez rejoining the club after the birth of his first child earlier this week, the Orioles have placed reserve outfielder Steve Pearce on the 15-day disabled list with left wrist tendinitis.

Gonzalez was placed on the paternity leave list earlier in the week, which created a roster spot for first baseman Travis Ishikawa but created a logjam that led to Pearce being sent to the DL. Like Ishikawa, Pearce could not be sent to the minor leagues without being designated for assignment and clearing waivers.

Pearce’s playing time has steadily declined since right-handed hitter Danny Valencia was recalled last month, and he received only four starts this month. He is hitting .235 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 90 plate appearances this season.

With outfielder Nolan Reimold continuing a minor-league rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie, the Orioles have another roster decision looming when the 29-year-old is ready to return. The Orioles continue to look for a trade partner for Ishikawa, but Reimold’s return would also leave Pearce’s long-term status in question as Valencia has emerged to serve as the regular designated hitter against left-handed starters.

Gonzalez and his wife welcomed daughter Leah to the world on Monday night, and the 29-year-old is scheduled to pitch on Saturday against the Blue Jays. He is 5-2 with a 3.75 earned run average in 12 starts this season.

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Orioles place Gonzalez on paternity leave list, designate Navarro for assignment

Posted on 18 June 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles today announced that they have recalled left-handed pitcher Zach Britton from Triple-A Norfolk, who is scheduled to start Tuesday at Detroit, and selected the contract of first baseman Travis Ishikawa from the Tides. To make room for Ishikawa on the 25 and 40-man rosters, right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez was placed on the Paternity Leave List and infielder Yamaico Navarro has been designated for assignment.

Britton, 25, is 3-2 with a 3.28 ERA (60.1IP, 22ER) in 11 starts for the Tides this season. He is 2-1 with a 2.03 ERA (31.0IP, 7ER) over his last five starts, lowering his season ERA from 4.60 to 3.28. Britton has held left-handed hitters to a line of .204/.339/.347 in 49 at-bats against at Triple-A. He made one start for the Orioles earlier this season, taking the loss (6.0IP, 6ER) on April 29 at Seattle.

Ishikawa, 29, has batted .316/.413/.525 with 16 doubles, seven home runs and 31 RBI in 49 games for the Tides this season. He was named the organization’s minor league player of the month in May after batting .413/.489/.787 with all seven of his home runs in 21 games on the month. Ishikawa is a career .257/.329/.428 hitter in five major league seasons with San Francisco (2006, 2008-10) and Milwaukee (2012). He will wear uniform #45.

Gonzalez, 29, is 5-2 with a 3.75 ERA (74.1IP, 31ER) in 12 starts this season. He and his wife Lucia had their first child, daughter Leah, Monday night.

Navarro, 25, batted .286/.333/.357 in 28 at-bats for the Orioles earlier this season.

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Orioles call up Ishikawa after he exercises opt-out clause

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Orioles call up Ishikawa after he exercises opt-out clause

Posted on 18 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

After Norfolk first baseman Travis Ishikawa filed paperwork to exercise his opt-out clause over the weekend, it appeared he was on the verge of moving on from the Orioles.

Instead, he will be promoted for Tuesday night’s game in Detroit, according to MLB Daily Dish. The 29-year-old was batting .316 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 49 games for the Tides this year. The Orioles had 48 hours to make a decision on Ishikawa after he declared his intention to opt out of the organization and become a free agent.

The Orioles optioned right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Tuesday’s starter Zach Britton and are expected to place right-hander Miguel Gonzalez on the paternity list, which would clear a spot for Ishikawa on the 25-man roster. However, the Orioles would need to create room for the veteran first baseman on the 40-man roster.

A five-year veteran in the big leagues who’s spent time with the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers, Ishikawa has hit .264 with 19 home runs and 110 RBIs in 839 career plate appearances. He signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles last December.

As for Ishikawa’s long-term standing with the club, there wouldn’t appear to be much use for him as a backup to Chris Davis considering manager Buck Showalter is already using a combination of Chris Dickerson, Danny Valencia, and Steve Pearce at the designated hitter spot. A more likely scenario would be for the Orioles to continue to explore a trade possibility for Ishikawa as he’s shown to be one of the better hitters in the International League this season.

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Orioles’ starting rotation remains in flux for next several days

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Orioles’ starting rotation remains in flux for next several days

Posted on 14 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — Trying to figure out what the Orioles’ starting rotation will look like over the next week is anybody’s guess.

That includes manager Buck Showalter, who certainly will be prepared for all possibilities and options in front of him but is waiting for factors out of his hands to play out. It started with the need to option rookie Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk after Thursday’s 13-inning affair and continues with the uncertainty surrounding right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who is slated to start on Saturday but is on call as his wife could give birth to the couple’s daughter any day.

“We’re kind of in the mode of, let’s see what tonight brings and smoke clears and see what presents itself,” Showalter said prior to Friday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

All we know is right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta was recalled to provide a fresh arm and length in a taxed bullpen that pitched 7 2/3 innings in the Orioles’ 5-4 win in the series opener Thursday night. How long he’ll be here is anybody’s guess, but you wouldn’t expect Arrieta to be here for more than a day or two considering he’s struggled mightily for the Tides recently, allowing 15 earned runs and 19 hits in his last two starts covering 10 1/3 innings.

Since Arrieta last pitched on Sunday, he was the freshest of the arms in the Norfolk starting rotation and is the best immediate fit, according to Showalter. You could conceivably see Arrieta optioned back to Triple A as soon as the conclusion of Friday night’s game if he needed to be used behind starter Chris Tillman.

Showalter also confirmed what most assumed about Gausman’s demotion in that it was solely based on the need in the bullpen after every reliever other than right-hander Pedro Strop pitched in the 13-inning game. The manager made that clear to the 22-year-old, but that doesn’t guarantee Gausman will return to Baltimore as soon as possible, either.

“If we had played nine innings, [Gausman] would have stayed,” said Showalter, who revealed Gausman will indeed travel to Norfolk and not remain in Baltimore despite Gonzalez’s shaky status. “I told him that last night — probably a little too up front about it. I also told him there were no assurances. The good side of it is, he leaves with a good outing and it gives him a chance to take a deep breath and kind of think about some things.”

After being optioned, Gausman is required to remain at Triple-A Norfolk for at least 10 days unless he is replacing a player placed on the 15-day disabled list. With Gonzalez’s unique situation in which he will be placed on the paternity list, the Orioles would be allowed to recall Gausman before the 10-day window concludes. Gonzalez’s wife is not due to give birth until June 19, making it uncertain whether he could be removed from the roster in time for Gausman’s turn in the rotation slotted for Tuesday.

In addition to Arrieta, Showalter also mentioned long reliever T.J. McFarland and Triple-A lefty Zach Britton as potential options for Sunday or Tuesday’s start in Detroit. Gausman is among the candidates for that start in Detroit should the Orioles have the means to return him to the roster, but Showalter made it clear there’s no guarantee that Gausman will be back for that start or even immediately following the expiration of the 10-day waiting period.

That’s good news for a pitcher like Britton, who has allowed only seven earned runs in 31 innings (2.03 ERA) over his last five starts for the Tides. He last pitched on Monday, meaning he would be a logical candidate for Sunday if the need arises or could conceivably work out of the pen for a day or two and be available for Tuesday. Should he get the ball against the Tigers and pitch well, he could remain in Baltimore for at least the foreseeable future while Gausman continues to hone his craft at Triple A, a level where he’s never pitched.

“We’ll see what the needs are going to be here,” said Showalter, who mentioned that Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin will work on a few specific points of emphasis with the 2012 first-round pick. “I told [Gausman] to go down there and present himself as an option for us. It’s all in his hands. We have other people that we like, too, and that’s good to know. That’s a good feeling. He could go down there and pitch well and present himself as a good option and still not [be back]. That’s kind of the way it works.”

As if the starting rotation wasn’t in enough flux, Jason Hammel came down with a virus Friday morning and was not at the ballpark for the second game of the series against the Red Sox. Fortunately, he is not scheduled to pitch again until Monday and the club hopes the illness will have run its course by then.

The way things are going for the starting rotation, you just hope no one steps on a nail at this point. Bonus points to you if you were able to figure out that reference.

In other rotation-related news, left-hander Wei-Yin Chen will throw 35 pitches off a full mound in Sarasota on Saturday. If all goes well, he could rejoin the Orioles on the next road trip to continue his rehab work, but Showalter said there are “a lot of hurdles” before the Taiwanese pitcher is back on the mound for the Orioles.

Outfielder Nolan Reimold will begin his minor-league rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Tuesday, according to Showalter. He completed a series of sprints with no setbacks in what was viewed as a final test for the right hamstring injury he’s nursed since spring training.

Second baseman Alexi Casilla took batting practice and was available without any real limitations for Friday’s game, according to Showalter. He’s dealt with a jammed right index finger since the finale of the Tampa Bay series last weekend.

Brian Roberts held up well after taking batting practice Thursday and was taking grounders at second base prior to Friday’s game as he continues rehabbing his surgically-repaired right hamstring.

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Jurrjens becomes latest Orioles starter sent back to Triple-A Norfolk

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Jurrjens becomes latest Orioles starter sent back to Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 21 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 — With the Orioles needing to make a roster move to create a spot for the returning Miguel Gonzalez on Tuesday night, most assumed right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta would be the one to go, but right-handed starter Jair Jurrjens was instead optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Perhaps the news shouldn’t have come as a surprise as Jurrjens became the fifth starting pitcher this season to be optioned back to the minor leagues after making just one start in Baltimore. Manager Buck Showalter explained the need to keep Arrieta available in the bullpen with a certain amount of mystery remaining in Gonzalez’s return from a blister on his right thumb that’s kept him sidelined since his start in Anaheim on May 3. Jurrjens wouldn’t have been available to give the club length out of the bullpen on Tuesday, according to the manager.

Jurrjens joins Zach Britton, Steve Johnson, and Josh Stinson as pitchers promoted from Norfolk who were optioned after their only start with the Orioles this year.

“They’re all tough anytime you’re sending guys down,” Showalter said. “But, there are some people who didn’t think he would get that [opportunity] this year. I think he knows that we’ve shown him and our guys where we’re going when there’s a need. I hope not, but I’m sure there will be another need this year. It could be sooner rather than later.”

Making his 2013 debut last Saturday after going 4-1 with a 3.14 earned run average in eight starts with the Tides, Jurrjens allowed four earned runs and six hits in five innings of work. However, all six hits were of the extra-base variety as the 27-year-old struck out five and walked one but didn’t factor into the decision.

Jurrjens declined comment in the Orioles clubhouse after learning of his demotion. He would be eligible to return to the 25-man roster in 10 days barring an injury that would force someone else to the 15-day disabled list.

“We need length in our bullpen as most clubs do,” Showalter said. “As always we are going to lean on protecting our bullpen and pitching staff and keep the length down there.”

The decision leaves the Orioles without a starter for the series opener in Toronto on Thursday, but Showalter named Arrieta as well as left-handed long reliever T.J. McFarland as the candidates. Of course, Arrieta began the year in the starting rotation before being optioned to Norfolk after posting a 6.63 ERA in four starts with the Orioles. He was summoned back to Baltimore on Saturday to serve in a long relief role but has yet to appear in a game.

Arrieta experience some tightness in his right shoulder earlier this month and hadn’t made a start for Norfolk since May 7, but Showalter said they’ve provided the 27-year-old with some simulated game work since he was recalled.

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old McFarland has quietly turned heads with a 2.61 ERA in 10 appearances covering 20 2/3 innings. A Rule 5 pick out of the Cleveland Indians system, McFarland doesn’t impress you on the surface with his 87 mph sinker, but he’s struck out 22 while allowing 23 hits and seven walks in his rookie season.

While Showalter didn’t officially name his choice for Thursday’s game, his comments reflected that he was leaning toward McFarland, praising him for his work in long relief and mentioning the reward at this level is “an opportunity to do more.” The manager acknowledged that Arrieta would have the ability to go deeper into the game from a pitch-count standpoint but estimated that McFarland could give the club somewhere between 75 and 90 pitches.

McFarland hasn’t thrown more than 53 pitches in any of his 10 outings this season, making one assume the lower portion of that range would be more realistic.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of which way Showalter is leaning was mentioning how a pitcher fares in a certain ballpark — in this case, Rogers Centre in Toronto. Arrieta has a 7.31 ERA in three career starts in the building formerly known as SkyDome while the rookie McFarland has never pitched there.

Of course, Showalter could have simply been presenting a smokescreen while having every intention of giving Arrieta the ball on Thursday while keeping the Blue Jays — and the rest of us — guessing.

As has been the case all season, circumstances could change quickly should Gonzalez or Jason Hammel — or both — have short outings that would force either Arrieta or McFarland into relief action before Thursday.

NOTES: Regular center fielder Adam Jones served as the designated hitter for Tuesday’s game after dealing with some right leg soreness. The 27-year-old downplayed any injury and lobbied to play the field, but Showalter saw it as an opportunity for Jones to rest his legs while remaining in the lineup. … Nolan Reimold (right hamstring) may travel with the Orioles to Toronto and take early batting practice as he continues to work his way back from the disabled list. Showalter still anticipates sending Reimold to a minor-league affiliate for some at-bats before potentially making his return. He is eligible to return from the DL on May 27, but it would appear he won’t be ready until at least some time after that. … Backup catcher Taylor Teagarden (dislocated left thumb) could begin playing in extended spring training games as early as next Monday. … Struggling starter Jason Hammel told reporters he threw all fastballs in his bullpen session since he’s struggled to command both his four-seam and two-seam pitches at different points this season. He currently sports a 5.72 ERA in nine starts this season.

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Laboring Orioles trying to shorten chain to late innings

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Laboring Orioles trying to shorten chain to late innings

Posted on 20 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 — Trying to stop a five-game losing streak on Monday with the surging New York Yankees coming to town for a three-game series isn’t the easiest of chores, but the Orioles know it begins with their starting pitching to right themselves in the American League East.

Every starter not named Chris Tillman is either injured or struggling, but the Orioles must find a way to shorten the chain to the end of the game, evident by the heavy workloads of their top relief pitchers and back-to-back blown saves by closer Jim Johnson. Baltimore entered Monday’s game with the 25th-ranked starting earned run average (4.90) in the majors and had averaged just 5.64 innings per start. In comparison, the St. Louis Cardinals have the best starting ERA (2.63) in baseball and average 6.43 innings per outing.

The starting pitching needs to improve for a club with postseason aspirations and intentions of preserving its biggest asset — the bullpen — for the entire season.

“That falls underneath the ‘Capt. Obvious’ thing,’” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s one thing to identify it; it’s how you do it. Pitch better.”

As of now, the Orioles have few answers with Tillman the only reliable commodity currently in the rotation. Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez returns Tuesday from a stint on the 15-day disabled list due to a blister on his right thumb, but lefty Wei-Yin Chen will just be leaving for Sarasota on Tuesday to begin his rehabilitation. Showalter didn’t paint a rosy picture on Monday that Chen would be returning in a timely fashion.

Stricken with a Grade 2 right oblique strain, Chen is at least a week away from picking up a baseball as his type of injury is a tricky one from which to recover. Setbacks are frequent with oblique injuries as you never really know how well a pitcher is recovering before he starts trying to throw again.

“I couldn’t tell you that he’s making any great progress,” Showalter said. “He’s still sore, but he’s doing some things as far as sleeping through the night and rolling over where it’s not bothering him like it was. But I don’t think there’s some definitive date. There’s an unknown to it.”

When Chen and Gonzalez dealing with injuries this month, the Orioles have been forced to turn to veteran Freddy Garcia and former Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens to stabilize the back end of the rotation. Speculation persists that Garcia could be reaching the end of his run with the Orioles after turning in poor outings against Kansas City and San Diego to follow up his surprising debut in Anaheim at the beginning of the month.

Jurrjens figures to receive at least a couple more starts after allowing four earned runs in five innings in his 2013 debut against Tampa Bay over the weekend, but the Orioles appear close to moving on in their quest for rotation stability.

Recalled over the weekend to serve as an extra arm in the bullpen, Jake Arrieta is not in line to receive a start and could be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Gonzalez on Tuesday. However, another pitcher in the Baltimore bullpen could be next in line for a shot in the rotation.

Left-hander T.J. McFarland turned in a scoreless performance over 2 1/3 innings to keep the Orioles within two runs of the Rays on Sunday, and Showalter acknowledged prior to the start of the Yankees series that the 23-year-old Rule 5 selection has been considered as a starting option.

“He was impressive again yesterday,” Showalter said. “I’m real proud of our scouting department. So far, so good with him. He’s a guy we’ve thought about starting, too, but right now it’s Freddy and Jair.”

McFarland has a 2.61 ERA in 20 2/3 innings over 10 appearances. The lefty has allowed 23 hits, struck out 22, and walked seven coming out of the bullpen.

Gonzalez chomping at bit

The Orioles will welcome the Tuesday return of Gonzalez, who hasn’t pitched since leaving his start in Anaheim early with a blister on his thumb on May 3.

Sporting a 2-2 record with a 4.58 ERA in six starts this season, a healthy Gonzalez would help soothe the rotation concerns if he can look more like the pitcher who went 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 games (15 starts) last season. The 28-year-old threw briefly on Sunday just to work on the spin of his curveball and feels confident after throwing roughly 80 pitches in completing a simulated game on Friday.

“I’ve been telling the guys it was frustrating not being able to be out there because of a blister,” Gonzalez said. “You know, it’s not an injury, but you just have to wait and heal.”

The right-hander said he shouldn’t be limited to any limited pitch count and would be able to throw 100 or more pitches if necessary on Tuesday night.

Hardy moving up

Shortstop J.J. Hardy saw his 13-game hitting streak come to an end on Sunday, but his .360 average that includes five home runs and 10 RBIs since May 3 hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Hardy was elevated to the No. 3 spot in the order against left-hander CC Sabathia on Monday night, but that was also the result of his numbers against the burly Yankees starter. The 30-year-old entered the game with a .321 career average against Sabathia with one homer and five RBIs.

Showalter was looking for any edge he could get against Sabathia, who held a 10-3 career mark with a 3.38 ERA in 15 career games at Camden Yards prior to Monday’s game.

“It’s hard to find anybody that’s had some success against certain guys,” Showalter said. “This just fits a little bit better for us [Monday night].”

Minor-league additions

According to Baseball America, the Orioles signed catcher Ronny Paulino and right-handed pitcher Austin Urban to minor-league contracts.

Paulino was released by the Seattle Mariners on March 30 while the Chicago Cubs released Urban on March 12.

Of course, the 32-year-old Paulino served as the Orioles’ backup catcher for a good portion of the first half of last season, hitting .254 in 63 at-bats and appearing in 20 games.

 

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Orioles have no choice but to circle back patiently with starting options

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Orioles have no choice but to circle back patiently with starting options

Posted on 19 May 2013 by Luke Jones

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

It’s never a good idea to definitively assess any team in the midst of its worst stretch of the season in the same way that you shouldn’t ignore weaknesses while enjoying the prosperous times.

With the Orioles suffering their first four-game losing streak of the season and surrendering a staggering 30 runs and 45 hits over their last three games, it’s easy to panic over such an ugly stretch of baseball. Early questions over starting pitching have transformed into serious concerns as the club has endured the losses of Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez to the disabled list and the recent struggles of Opening Day starter Jason Hammel while attempting to piece together the back end of the rotation.

The poor starting pitching has placed even more reliance on the bullpen as the Orioles have seen All-Star closer Jim Johnson blow consecutive saves this week. Showalter insists the bullpen hasn’t been overworked and is very meticulous with everything from innings pitched down to the number of times a reliever even gets up to throw during games, but that won’t remain the case if the poor performance of the starting pitching continues into the summer.

Chen is sidelined indefinitely with the always-unpredictable strained oblique injury, meaning Chris Tillman is the only starter on which manager Buck Showalter can currently rely as Orioles starting pitching has allowed 32 earned runs in 39 1/3 innings — a 7.32 earned run average — over the last eight games. The club hopes the 2012 version of Gonzalez will surface beginning with his scheduled return on Tuesday and that Hammel will find the proper release point to improve his fastball command after a miserable recent stretch.

Beyond those concerns, the picture becomes even more frightening with the final two spots in the rotation. Yes, it’s easy to look back at the offseason and criticize executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette for not acquiring any impact starters — I shared that very sentiment at the start of spring training and again at the beginning of the season — but Duquette and Showalter also expressed great faith in their internal options.

Now, one time through a lineup of “second-tier” starters that includes Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Steve Johnson, Freddy Garcia, Jair Jurrjens, and Josh Stinson, only Arrieta and Garcia have received more than one start to this point. Arrieta doesn’t really fall into the same category as the others after beginning the season as the fifth starter, and a strong debut in Anaheim bought the 36-year-old Garcia two more starts that have been underwhelming at best.

Understanding that even the brightest pitchers in the game will have a handful of less-than-stellar outings over the course of a season, is a one-start audition really the best way to determine if a pitcher can be an asset for the major league rotation?

Make no mistake, gone are the days when a young prospect such as Brian Matusz will be afforded the opportunity to accumulate a 10.69 ERA in 12 starts as he did over two different stints in the 2011 season. Higher expectations are here to stay and competition is paramount with Duquette and Showalter as they look beyond the 25-man roster while viewing Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie as essential partners in fielding a competitive club in the American League East.

However, the problem with higher expectations is the emphasis it places on smaller sample sizes when trying to evaluate. And you wonder if the possibility of such a short audition for the likes of Britton and Johnson creates too much of a mindset of looking over your shoulder and trying to be too perfect. It also devalues their minor-league performances that earn them their chance in the first place.

Showalter acknowledged this weekend most of these immediate demotions couldn’t have been avoided due to the strain placed on the bullpen as a direct result of the short outings. There is plenty of merit to that explanation, but at some point, the Orioles need to find the proper balance between having higher expectations and exercising the faith expressed this offseason in their internal options by showing just a bit more — brace yourself for that all-too-familiar word — patience.

No one is endorsing that Britton or Johnson or whichever pitcher sitting at the top of the totem pole for the next chance automatically receives six weeks’ worth of starts in the big leagues, but a reasonable opportunity of three or four starts might be more conducive to the potentially fragile psyche of a young pitcher. Fringe pitchers such as these certainly need to feel urgency playing for a contending club, but trying to be too perfect in fear of being sent down isn’t setting them up with the mindset for success, either.

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Jurrjens looking to bring innings, experience to Orioles rotation

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Jurrjens looking to bring innings, experience to Orioles rotation

Posted on 17 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 — Poised to become the Orioles’ 10th starting pitcher of the 2013 season, right-hander Jair Jurrjens isn’t treating Saturday’s debut against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Of course, that’s easier said than done after the Orioles cycled through Josh Stinson, Zach Britton, and Steve Johnson with each receiving one start and promptly being optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk after subpar performances. Among the four pitchers summoned to replace Jake Arrieta and the injured Miguel Gonzalez from the Opening Day rotation, only the 36-year-old Freddy Garcia — who can’t be optioned to the minors — has remained with the club beyond his first start.

Arriving in the Baltimore clubhouse Friday afternoon, Jurrjens expressed his gratitude for finally receiving the call after eight starts with the Tides, but he has 125 career starts and a 3.62 career ERA in the majors on his side to cope with any potential anxiety. Whether that means he’ll receive a longer leash remains to be seen as he can be optioned back to Norfolk should the Orioles not like what they see and need immediate bullpen help as a result.

“This is not my first time pitching in the big leagues,” said Jurrjens, who was 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA. “I am just going to take it as another game and try to eat innings and give the team the best performance I can.”

Jurrjens owned an opt-out clause in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent had he not been promoted to the big leagues by June 15, but that doesn’t prevent him from being optioned after making it to the 25-man roster. Of course, the Orioles entered Friday with just three starters in their current rotation and would like to see someone emerge as their fifth starter in addition to the anticipated Tuesday return of Gonzalez from the DL to ease concerns with the starting pitching.

The lingering concerns about Jurrjens’ knee over the last couple years are a thing of the past as strengthening exercises and his ability to repeat his mechanics have left him feeling better than he has in a few years, according to the pitcher. Questions about Jurrjens’ medical records delayed his signing with the Orioles this winter before executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette eventually inked the 2011 National League All-Star to a minor-league contract that included an invitation to spring training.

One of the most concerning aspects of Jurrjens’ decline from an All-Star pitcher to one with a 6.89 ERA who spent time in the minor leagues was the decline in velocity. The Curacao native saw his average fastball velocity dip from just above 91 miles per hour in 2010 to just about 88.5 mph last season.

Jurrjens features a fastball, sinker, slider, and changeup in his arsenal and carries a 53-37 record in his six-year career spent mostly with the Atlanta Braves. He will wear No. 49 with the Orioles.

“If the command is there, he’ll give us a chance to win,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s been a long journey for him. I don’t know if anxiety is the word, but he’ll have some [jitters]. He’s done this before. I think a lot of people miss — I know I did originally — how young he is. I’m anxious to see.”

In 51 2/3 innings, Jurrjens walked only 15 batters while striking out 36 and allowing 44 hits. The control hasn’t been an issue and his strikeout rate of 6.3 per nine innings is more than acceptable, but both Jurrjens and Showalter didn’t mention improvement in the pitcher’s velocity when asked about his progress.

As is the case with any pitcher promoted from Triple A to the big leagues, there will be questions whether his repertoire that worked against International League hitters will translate to success at the next level.

“It can be difficult [knowing], because down there, some guys just go up there and swing,” said Jurrjens, who claimed he hasn’t paid close attention to his velocity so far this season. “Here, some guys are more patient and they look for one pitch to hit.”

Gonzalez on Tuesday track

Gonzalez completed his simulated game at Camden Yards without any problems on Friday afternoon.

Showalter said prior to Friday’s game that the right-hander remains an option for Monday, but the club is leaning toward a Tuesday return from the 15-day disabled list for the 28-year-old. Gonzalez has been dealing with a nasty blister on his right thumb since the beginning of the month and is eligible to be activated from the DL on Sunday.

“You look at his face as much as you do his thumb,” Showalter said. “He feels good about it. I don’t expect something else to crop up. He did it today without the bandage on.”

Gonzalez threw roughly 50 pitches against several teammates after throwing 25 in the bullpen and was able to throw his entire array of pitches.

Roster move coming

The Orioles must make a roster move to add Jurrjens to the 40-man roster as well as to clear room on the active roster prior to his Saturday start.

Showalter said the club has a few different options in mind, with extra reliever Alex Burnett and infielder Yamaico Navarro assumed to be the most likely candidates. However, Navarro was in the lineup for Friday night’s game as Showalter said the 25-year-old deserved a look at second base. The organization likes Navarro’s bat, but there are some questions about his defense.

Navarro was hitting .303 in 147 plate appearances for the Tides, leading some to wonder whether struggling second baseman Ryan Flaherty might be the player to go on Saturday. Flaherty is hitting only .133 in 102 plate appearances and has struck out 26 times.

Playing 29 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, Navarro was acquired in exchange for pitcher Jhondaniel Medina on Nov. 30, 2012.

Injury updates

The Orioles announced Friday that catcher Taylor Teagarden (dislocated left thumb) had his splint removed.

Infielder Wilson Betemit began jogging in the pool as he continues his recovery in Sarasota from a Grade 2/3 PCL tear in his right knee. He remains on the 60-day DL and Showalter expressed hope earlier this week that he could return at some point in June.

 

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Steve Johnson to make 2013 debut on Saturday in Minnesota

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Steve Johnson to make 2013 debut on Saturday in Minnesota

Posted on 10 May 2013 by Luke Jones

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Needing a starter to replace Miguel Gonzalez on Saturday, the Orioles will send right-hander Steve Johnson to the hill against the Minnesota Twins.

Though an official roster move hasn’t been made, the Orioles will recall the 25-year-old Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk and likely option right-handed reliever Alex Burnett to make room on the 25-man roster. Burnett was recalled to replace Gonzalez when the starting pitcher was sent to the 15-day disabled list Thursday.

Less than six weeks into the 2013 season, manager Buck Showalter will turn to his ninth starting pitcher after Johnson began the season on the 15-day DL with a strained lat muscle suffered late in spring training. Johnson was then activated and optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on April 30.

A St. Paul’s alum, Johnson went 4-0 with a 2.11 earned run average in 38 1/3 innings that spanned 12 games and included four starts for the Orioles last season. In three starts for the Tides this season, Johnson is 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA in 16 1/3 innings.

With the Orioles scheduled to have two days off next week, Johnson could be optioned right back to Norfolk after Saturday’s start unless Showalter elects to keep him as an extra option in the bullpen. Following Saturday, Showalter could use Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, and Chris Tillman on regular rest through May 18 and put veteran Freddy Garcia in the bullpen for the time being. Gonzalez is eligible to return from the disabled list on May 19, meaning he could be back in the starting rotation by the time the Orioles would even need a fourth starter again.

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Gonzalez’s DL stint may not be that painful for Orioles

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Gonzalez’s DL stint may not be that painful for Orioles

Posted on 09 May 2013 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 12:00 a.m.)

BALTIMORE — Wanting to play it safe with the nasty blister that’s developed on starter Miguel Gonzalez’s right thumb, the Orioles have elected to place the right-handed pitcher on the 15-day disabled list.

The club has recalled right-handed reliever Alex Burnett from Triple-A Norfolk to take his place on the 25-man roster as well as provide an extra arm in the bullpen for the next couple nights. Gonzalez’s DL stint is retroactive to May 4, meaning the 28-year-old could return to the starting rotation as early as May 19 in a series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Gonzalez completed a bullpen session on Thursday with a bandage covering the thumb, but he only threw fastballs as the blister that developed under a broken callous hindered his ability to throw his two-seam fastball and off-speed pitches. According to manager Buck Showalter, the plan is for Gonzalez to complete another bullpen session this weekend in Minnesota and then throw a rehab start at either Bowie or Norfolk next week.

Of course, a blister is a very tricky ailment for a pitcher that you can’t rush in fear of re-aggravating the skin and putting yourself right back in the same predicament. The Orioles remain confident that the decision to place Gonzalez on the DL is the proactive choice that will eliminate the problem for the remainder of the season.

“I just think this is the most prudent thing to do,” Showalter said. “I don’t care what happened today; he’s still going to be tentative throwing his breaking ball and his split. If it forms again, you’re going to have a season-long problem, so we just decided to get that done before he had the work day and get that out of his mind.

On the surface, the short-term loss of Gonzalez would create a problem after the Orioles finally appeared to ease their fifth-starter dilemma — at least for the time being — with veteran Freddy Garcia. The good news is the Orioles will only be faced with the problem of replacing Gonzalez in the rotation for Saturday’s start since they benefit from days off next week on Monday and Thursday.

Showalter was initially tight-lipped regarding his thoughts for Saturday’s starter, but announced that right-hander Steve Johnson would be recalled to take the ball in Minnesota. The 25-year-old Johnson pitched for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, throwing 94 pitches, allowing two earned runs, and striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings against Buffalo.

Once they’ve completed Saturday’s game, the Orioles could get away with using only Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, and Chris Tillman as starters all the way through Sunday, May 19 when Gonzalez would hypothetically be ready. Of course, that means Garcia would be available to pitch in relief or make a start should they want to give any of the aforementioned pitchers such as Chen an extra day of rest as Showalter often likes to do when able.

As Showalter likes to say, there are plenty of moving parts and a lot could change quickly, but the Orioles appear to be in good shape to endure Gonzalez’s absence thanks to a couple well-placed days off after recently completing a 20-day stretch void of any scheduled days of rest.

Roberts surgery successful

Second baseman Brian Roberts underwent right hamstring surgery on Thursday morning in Dallas in what was deemed a successful procedure.

The 35-year-old exchanged some text messages with Showalter and is expected to return to Sarasota this weekend where he’ll begin a six-week recovery period. The hope is that the procedure will eliminate any tangible risk of re-injuring the hamstring once Roberts is able to resume baseball activity.

“Everything went well today,” Showalter said. “Very positive. The doctors felt good about getting it done after getting in there. It will speed up the process. I’ve got marked off what [six] weeks is from today, so we’ll see what happens.”

Showalter expressed empathy for Roberts’ latest setback while acknowledging some of the frustration and emotional responses expressed by critics and fans regarding the $10 million the second baseman is making this season in the final year of a four-year, $40 million contract.

Various injuries have limited Roberts to just 118 games over the last four seasons.

“He’s not going to give in,” Showalter said. “That’s why it makes me confident that he’ll come back and be a contributor. We think he’s worth waiting on. It’s been tough on him. It would be kind of selfish to say it’s tough on us. It’s tougher on him if you put yourself in the position he’s been in the last two or three years and ask yourself sincerely what you would do.”

Orioles add minor-league third baseman Wood

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette sent cash considerations to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for infielder Brandon Wood on Thursday.

The 28-year-old will report to Triple-A Norfolk as he continues to plug away in a disappointing career that once held a tremendous amount of promise. Wood was Baseball America’s No. 3 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2006 season but has never been able to put it together at the big-league level.

In 700 career at-bats in the major leagues, Wood has a career .186 average with 18 home runs, 64 RBIs, and 218 strikeouts.

Back in 2006 and 2007 when the Orioles were exploring trades for shortstop Miguel Tejada, the Angels were often linked in discussions with Wood’s name mentioned as a player the club might covet in return. He became somewhat of a folk hero in the minor leagues by hitting 43 home runs and 53 doubles in his 2005 season split between high Single A and Triple A.

However, the talent that once made scouts salivate never came to fruition at the big-league level as the Orioles will now be Wood’s fifth different organization.

Odds & ends

Closer Jim Johnson picked up his 85th career save on Wednesday night. If he collects 21 more this season, he will move into second place on the club’s all-time list ahead of Tippy Martinez (105) and Stu Miller (100). Gregg Olson remains the Orioles’ all-time saves leader with 160. … Left fielder Nate McLouth has stolen 11 bases (second in the American League) and is on pace to steal 52 this season. That would be the third-best mark in Orioles history behind Luis Aparicio (57 in 1964) and Brady Anderson (53 in 1992). … The Orioles have the highest team fielding percentage (.991) in baseball in the 85 games since third baseman Manny Machado arrived in Baltimore on Aug. 9, 2012. … Since July 29, 2012, the Orioles have the best record in baseball at 62-33 (.652 winning percentage) as well as the best home record at 32-13 (.711 winning percentage).

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