Tag Archive | "MLB"

Jimenez own worst enemy in struggles against Yankees

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Jimenez own worst enemy in struggles against Yankees

Posted on 07 April 2014 by Luke Jones

The book on Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez throughout his major league career has been the tendency to be his own worst enemy.

With an array of pitches and ability that suggest he should be a perennial Cy Young Award candidate, Jimenez has instead struggled to find consistency due to command issues that once again plagued him in Monday’s 4-2 loss to the New York Yankees.

The right-hander surrendered eight hits — several of the bloop variety — and four earned runs over 4 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium, but the five walks issued transformed a potentially-respectable outing into one in which he failed to make it out of the fifth inning and suffered his second loss of the season.

In addition to free passes elevating his pitch count, Jimenez began the bottom of the third with a walk to No. 9 hitter Yangervis Solarte, who scored the first run of the game on a double play. The Baltimore pitcher then walked Kelly Johnson with two outs an inning later to put a runner in scoring position before Solarte drove in the second New York run of the game.

Appropriately enough, Jimenez walked former Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts to conclude his rough 109-pitch outing before lefty Zach Britton entered to walk Johnson to force a run home in the fifth inning.

Jimenez entered Monday’s game averaging 4.0 walks per nine innings in his career — which equals former Baltimore pitcher Jake Arrieta’s frustrating career mark — and has never been able to work deep into games consistently because of high pitch counts and free passes. His 3.30 earned run average a year ago was his best since his 2010 All-Star season with Colorado, but Jimenez only managed to complete 182 2/3 innings in his 32 starts and hasn’t reached the 200-inning plateau since 2010 despite having made at least 31 starts in each of the last three seasons.

No one doubts Jimenez’s upside — it’s why the Orioles gave him a four-year, $50 million contract in February — but his propensity for issuing walks and throwing too many pitches won’t bode well competing against the American League East and its patient lineups if pitching coach Dave Wallace can’t help the 30-year-old keep his unorthodox mechanics in check.

Over the course of the season, you’re going to get the good Jimenez and the bad Jimenez, but the Orioles have seen too much of the latter through his two starts of the 2014 season.

Hardy still on mend

Shortstop J.J. Hardy missed his third game in four days on Monday as he continues to nurse lower back spasms that started on Friday in Detroit.

He told reporters prior to the series opener against the Yankees that his back was improving, but it remains unclear whether he will be available to play on Tuesday afternoon. It’s understandable that the Orioles wouldn’t want to be hasty in placing the veteran on the 15-day disabled list, but his back spams have left manager Buck Showalter shorthanded on the bench.

With two runners on and one out in the seventh, New York manager Joe Girardi summoned lefty Matt Thornton to face the left-handed Ryan Flaherty, a situation that typically calls for a pinch hitter. The problem was that Showalter was without another infielder as Delmon Young, Steve Pearce, and Steve Clevenger were his only available bench options.

Young and Pearce provide viable options against left-handed pitching, but their lack of versatility and speed isn’t ideal off the bench. Should Hardy be sidelined any longer, the Orioles may need to take a long look at adding another infielder to the 25-man roster as they’ve already leaned heavily on Flaherty, Steve Lombardozzi, and rookie Jonathan Schoop in the infield.

And it’s part of the reason why the Baltimore lineup has managed just 22 runs in its first seven games of the season.

Reimold shifted to 60-day DL

With the acquisition of right-handed pitcher Preston Guilmet from the Cleveland Indians on Monday, the Orioles transferred outfielder Nolan Reimold to the 60-day disabled list, which is just the latest disappointment in the 30-year-old’s career.

At this point, any health-related setback isn’t surprising for the right-handed hitter as he wasn’t progressing enough with his surgically-repaired neck to warrant a roster spot to begin the season. Monday’s development makes him ineligible to return until late May, and Showalter said Reimold continues to receive treatment on his neck in Sarasota.

There’s no question that Reimold has been through hell physically with two spinal fusion surgeries over the last two years, which is what made the Orioles’ decision to sign him to a one-year, $1.025 million deal over the winter so surprising. Inking him to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training would have been reasonable, but guaranteeing his contract seemed excessive at the time and certainly does now as he still isn’t 100 percent.

The good news for the Orioles is that they weren’t depending on Reimold to be a real contributor in the lineup as they were in each of he last two years as they acquired left fielder David Lough from Kansas City and signed designated hitter Nelson Cruz over the winter. Anything they get from Reimold is icing on the cake, but his shift to the 60-day DL certainly won’t create any optimism of him being able to contribute.

 

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Orioles acquire RHP Guilmet from Cleveland, transfer Reimold to 60-day DL

Posted on 07 April 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Monday that they have acquired right-handed pitcher Preston Guilmet (pronounced GILL-met) from Cleveland in exchange for minor league outfielder Torsten Boss and optioned Guilmet to Triple-A Norfolk.

Guilmet, 26, owns a lifetime 2.57 ERA (297.2IP, 85ER) and 90 saves in 196 games (15 starts) over five minor league seasons in the Cleveland system. He has struck out 9.8 batters per 9.0 innings and walked 1.9 per 9.0. In 2013, Guilmet posted a 1.68 ERA (64.1IP, 12ER), 20 saves and 10.1 strikeouts per 9.0 in 49 games with Triple-A Columbus. He was selected in the ninth round of the 2009 First Year Player Draft out of the University of Arizona.

To make room for Guilmet on the 40-man roster, outfielder Nolan Reimold (cervical spine fusion surgery) has been transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.

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Orioles minor league recap – 4/6

Posted on 07 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Here’s what happened down in the Orioles’ farm system on Sunday…

* T.J. McFarland allowed one earned run and struck out five, but Triple-A Norfolk fell 2-1 to Charlotte

* Zach Davies earned the win pitching five strong innings in Double-A Bowie’s 10-5 win over Harrisburg

* Michael Burgess went deep as Single-A Frederick topped Lynchburg in a 6-2 final

* Sebastian Vader gave up one earned run in six innings to earn the win in Single-A Delmarva’s 4-2 victory over Asheville

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Hardy scratched with back spasms for second time in three games

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Hardy scratched with back spasms for second time in three games

Posted on 06 April 2014 by Luke Jones

Already trying to snap a four-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Detroit Tigers, the Orioles were forced to scratch shortstop J.J. Hardy for the second time in three games as he continues to deal with lower back spasms.

Hardy was originally slated to play with Tigers starter Justin Verlander on the hill, but manager Buck Showalter removed him from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch as the 31-year-old experienced spasms in a different spot than he did Friday when he missed the opening game of the Detroit series. He went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the Orioles’ 7-6 loss on Saturday.

The All-Star shortstop’s back issues aren’t an encouraging development for Baltimore as third baseman Manny Machado continues to work his way back to full strength from offseason knee surgery and started the season on the 15-day disabled list. Ryan Flaherty was moved from third base to take Hardy’s place at shortstop while rookie Jonathan Schoop was inserted in Sunday’s lineup to play at third.

Hardy is 5-for-15 in four games this season and had three career homers against Verlander, making his absence disappointing as the Orioles were facing the 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player.

 

 

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B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles First Week

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B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles First Week

Posted on 04 April 2014 by Brett Dickinson

By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen

BK: Brett, I am THRILLED to finally get to talk baseball with you. There are very few things that I enjoy more than Opening Day, especially when it involves the Baltimore Orioles having a home game on this sacred occasion.

Perfect weather. Great company. An Orioles win. Brett, what makes Opening Day so special?

BD: You know Barry, everyone gets excited for baseball, for the start of a new season, the start of spring, the end of a miserable winter (especially this year).  But there are certain intricacies of heading to Camden Yards on Opening Day that really begin the wonderment. We both had the luxury in enjoying some of the festivities on Monday and let’s just say it was a good day.

But there are portions of the day-long event that simply define an Orioles home opener.  Of course it all starts with the day drinking around the stadium. Whether it is basking in sunlight outside or enjoying big ass beers or running into familiar faces and friends (or even ex and current Ravens players showing their Birdland pride), it is a spectacle that should make all baseball fans jealous.  It is like the ultimate tailgate, that spans from the Inner Harbor to Federal Hill to Canton and beyond.

Opening Day Introductions at Camden Yards

Though actually entering in the Baltimore cathedral on Front Street is where the ‘magic’ really begins (you see what I did there? HA!).  There are few better sights in this world than the view from the flag court, towering over the right field wall.  And the smells of fresh barbeque and sausages on the grill only intensify the sensory overload.  And I beg for anyone to find a better taste combination than putting the Camden Yards staple, “Boog’s Mustard,” on your hot dog, pit beef, ice cream or any other food for that matter.

With all that being said, the Orioles have found their way onto the field.  It is early in the season and there will still be a lot of tinkering with the roster.  Barry, what are your thoughts on the first official week of the season for Baltimore? What are some positives and negatives you have witnessed after the O’s first series?

BK: Just three games into the season, it is easy for fans to get worked up after losing two out of three to the Boston Red Sox. Sure, it is difficult to see the team lose close games at home, but there is no shame in losing a couple of early season contests to last year’s World Series champions. The American League East is going to be an extremely competitive division, and the Orioles should find themselves in the thick of it. Starting the season 1-2 does not change that fact.

My biggest positive from the first series has to be the performances of Zach Britton as a multi-inning reliever. On Opening Day, Britton shut down the Red Sox lineup for the 6th and 7th innings, and earned the win following Nelson Cruz’s solo home run. Britton also pitched two scoreless innings Thursday night in the team’s 4-3 loss. If the Orioles can continue to get this kind of production from him, the bullpen can benefit from the streamline roles that each pitcher has.

Flaherty and SchoopOn the negative, I will continue to bash Ryan Flaherty, until the club realizes that he simply is not an everyday major leaguer. In the seventh inning of the second game, Flaherty’s errant throw to first base on a weak ground ball to third made everyone miss Manny Machado that much more. The play was crucial, helping to turn a 4-2 Boston lead into 6-2. What’s worse is that Flaherty went hitless in the first series, starting all three games. If the guy can’t hit, and he can’t field, what is he doing playing the hot corner at Camden Yards? I know it’s early, but there are other players on this 25-man roster that should push Flaherty for playing time and at-bats. Give me Lombardozzi at 3rd, Schoop at 2nd, and an Alexi Casilla-type role for Mr. Flaherty.

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Lough, Lombardozzi receive first starts with Orioles

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Lough, Lombardozzi receive first starts with Orioles

Posted on 02 April 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Trying to build upon the good vibes of their season-opening win over the Boston Red Sox, the Orioles returned to Camden Yards on Wednesday with a pair of changes to their lineup in the second meeting of a three-game set.

David Lough was penciled in to start in left field while the newly-acquired Steve Lombardozzi received his first start at second base as manager Buck Showalter tries to get all of his position players a start in the early days of the 2014 season. With right-hander John Lackey going to the hill for Boston, Lough was already expected to start in left — with Nelson Cruz moving to the designated hitter spot — and understands his role hitting in the No. 2 spot in the order.

“Just get on base. I get on base, I score,” said the 28-year-old Lough, who was acquired from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Danny Valencia in the offseason. “Look who is hitting behind me. A lot of great hitters.”

Meanwhile, Lombardozzi was excited to receive his first start with his hometown team after growing up in Columbia and graduating from Atholton High. Rookie Jonathan Schoop is expected to receive most of the playing time at second base — the position at which Showalter would like to play him exclusively — but Lombardozzi’s versatility makes him a valuable piece the Orioles acquired from the Detroit Tigers near the end of spring training.

Entering his fourth major league season, Lombardozzi played second base, shortstop, third base, and left field in his three years with the Washington Nationals even though he acknowledged prior to Wednesday’s game that his best position is second base.

Lombardozzi wasn’t sure of an exact count but expected plenty of family members and friends to be in attendance for his Orioles debut.

“I’ve definitely got some nerves, but I’m really excited to get out there and help this team win,” Lombardozzi said. “It was cool being out there for Opening Day. I came to a couple of them growing up. I’m very fortunate to be back close to home. It’s a good feeling to be with this organization.”

Markakis continues to lead off

Though he is still receiving treatment for a stiff neck, Nick Markakis was once again in the lineup and leading off as Showalter indicated the right fielder would remain in the top spot for the foreseeable future.

With Nate McLouth now in Washington and David Lough still trying to establish himself as an everyday player, Markakis represents the best option that the Orioles have despite lacking the prototypical speed for a leadoff hitter. The 30-year-old received his first extensive time in the role in 2012 when he batted .335 with five home runs, 28 runs batted in, and an .879 on-base plus slugging percentage in 54 games

“He doesn’t mind doing it. He embraces it,” Showalter said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a club that never dwelled on where they hit in the order like this one. I hope it’s because they kind of trust what we’re trying to get done. I asked Nick in the spring, ‘In a perfect world, where would you want to hit in the order?’ You can imagine what Nick’s response was. ‘I don’t care. Whatever you need me to do.’”

Showalter acknowledged that Lough’s speed might make him an attractive option in the leadoff spot at some point this season.

Santana, Bundy progressing

Showalter continues to be encouraged by the progress of veteran left-hander Johan Santana, who threw 30 pitches off a full mound in Sarasota on Tuesday. The two-time American League Cy Young Award winner threw his full assortment of pitches as he continues to try to build up his velocity after last year’s surgery on his left shoulder capsule.

The bigger question than how hard he can throw will be whether Santanta can find that ideal 10-miles-per-hour difference between his fastball and changeup, according to Showalter.

“He had one of the best changeups in baseball,” Showalter said, “but if his velocity is only 85, can he drop his changeup to 75? I don’t know. And is 85 enough? I think the hitters are going to answer a lot of those questions. In my mind, [I know] what I’d love to see on the gun in a perfect world. But all indications are so far, so good. He hasn’t had any setbacks.”

Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy threw 25 fastballs from a mound on Wednesday as he continues to work his way back to full strength from Tommy John surgery. Showalter continues to be pleased with his progress even though he’s not quite as far along as Santana.

Outfielder Francisco Peguero had the cast removed from his right wrist on Wednesday and remains on the 15-day disabled list.

Here are Wednesday night’s lineups:

BOSTON
LF Daniel Nava
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
LF Jonny Gomes
CF Grady Sizemore
SS Xander Bogaerts
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Will Middlebrooks

SP John Lackey (0-0, 0.00)

BALTIMORE
RF Nick Markakis
LF David Lough
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
DH Nelson Cruz
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Ryan Flaherty
2B Steve Lombardozzi

SP Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

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

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Orioles clear first hurdle of ninth-inning experiment to start 2014

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Orioles clear first hurdle of ninth-inning experiment to start 2014

Posted on 31 March 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The first trial of the great experiment that is the ninth inning was a success in the Orioles’ season-opening win over the Boston Red Sox on Monday.

Manager Buck Showalter sent new closer Tommy Hunter to the mound with a 2-1 lead and the 27-year-old eventually shut the door on the defending World Series champions despite some nervous moments along the way. There will be other uneasy times as a club with postseason aspirations tries to fill the void of Jim Johnson’s 101 saves over the last two years with a bullpen that had just 13 combined major league saves entering Monday.

The Orioles can add one more to that total as Hunter worked around a leadoff hit by pitch and a one-out single before retiring designated hitter David Ortiz — gulp — on a fly out to left and right fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. on a called strike three to send the Orioles to their 11th victory in their last 14 season openers. It took Hunter 22 pitches to get three outs, but there was no better way to acclimate him than against an offense notorious for wearing out pitchers with foul balls and deep counts.

So far, so good.

“That was fun. Hopefully, it’s like that a lot more,” Hunter said. “I had to earn it. That is a way of life in baseball. A one-run game to start the season off against the defending world champs. Here we are.”

Hunter passed his first test and showed the bulldog toughness you often find in successful closers, but there’s no telling whether his propensity for giving up the long ball or struggles against left-handed batters will ultimately lead to his undoing as the Orioles’ ninth-inning man. As Showalter said prior to Monday’s game, the hard-throwing right-hander is merely the first to receive the opportunity to do the job with the likes of Darren O’Day and Ryan Webb waiting in the wings if he falters.

In fact, the first glimpse at the rest of the bullpen was interesting as Showalter turned to left-hander Zach Britton for two strong innings in which he enticed six ground-ball outs. The Baltimore manager then surprisingly handed the ball to newcomer Evan Meek — a non-roster invitee to spring training — to begin the eighth before the former Pittsburgh Pirates reliever walked two batters and forced Showalter to bring in lefty specialist Brian Matusz for the final out of the inning.

Meek had pitched nine scoreless innings in Grapefruit League play to make the club out of spring training, but Showalter’s confidence in a pitcher who spent the entire 2013 campaign in the minor leagues was surprising with O’Day and Webb available.

“It’s not easy,” said Showalter of his bullpen’s four shutout innings. “It’s not always going to look aesthetically pleasing, but it’s a hard thing to do. And you’re playing the world champions and there’s a fine margin for error, whether it be Zach Britton or Evan Meek or Brian Matusz.”

Perhaps his eighth-inning use of Meek was a sign that the Orioles manager himself is still trying to gain a feel for a bullpen that lacks the experienced late-inning man on which you can depend. Baltimore tried to address that need in its pursuit of veteran closer Grant Balfour this winter, but when that deal was squashed, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette decided against throwing money at a veteran reliever with gaudy save totals.

That decision likely made it possible for the Orioles to sign left fielder and designated hitter Nelson Cruz — the offensive hero of Monday’s win with his seventh-inning home run — and starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, but it remains to be seen whether the ninth inning becomes the Orioles’ Achilles heel in their quest to advance to the playoffs for the second time in three years. Deciding to jettison Johnson and his nine blown saves from a year ago was one thing, but leaving such inexperience in the closer role appears to be a treacherous path.

Of course, the club the Orioles defeated showed it can be done as Koji Uehara eventually settled into the ninth inning last year to save 21 games on Boston’s path to the title, but even the 38-year-old Japanese pitcher entered 2013 with 14 career saves, the same number the Orioles’ entire bullpen had at the close of business on Monday.

The first venture with Hunter was a success, but there must be more before anyone will rest easy in the ninth.

“I’d like to say they’ll get easier, but they won’t,” Showalter said. “One-run leads in the American League East — home or away — are hard to finish. You know you’re going to get everybody’s best shot. We gave it ours, and we were fortunate to come out with one more run than they did and 27 outs.”

 

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Markakis plays on Opening Day despite neck issue

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Markakis plays on Opening Day despite neck issue

Posted on 31 March 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Beginning the 2014 season with hopes of returning to the postseason for the second time in three years, the Orioles received good news prior to their season opener against the Boston Red Sox with the news of right fielder Nick Markakis being in the lineup.

Dealing with a stiff neck over the weekend, the 30-year-old took batting practice and appeared to have no limitations swinging the bat before manager Buck Showalter officially inserted him in the lineup in the leadoff spot. The Baltimore skipper did not sound overly concerned about Markakis’ status in his pre-game comments, but he expressed the desire to be cautious without buying into the hype of Markakis wanting to play on Opening Day.

Even though left-hander Jon Lester will take the hill for Boston, the Orioles will send Ryan Flaherty to third base with rookie Jonathan Schoop playing second base. There had been some thought that the left-handed hitting Flaherty would sit against the southpaw with utility man Steve Lombardozzi factoring into the season-opening order. Flaherty received only 25 plate appearances against left-handed pitching last year and went 5-for-23 with a home run.

Schoop will become the first Orioles rookie since Luis Hernandez in 2008 to be in the starting lineup on Opening Day.

It was the spring’s worst-kept secret, but Showalter confirmed Monday morning that he informed right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter that he will begin the year as the Baltimore closer. The manager also acknowledged that nothing is set in stone as he has other bullpen candidates in mind as ninth-inning options should Hunter not succeed.

Right-hander Josh Stinson will begin the season as the club’s primary long reliever, but lefties Zach Britton and Brian Matusz are also available to provide more length after being stretched out during spring training. Of course, the Orioles could always look at No. 4 and No. 5 starters Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris to give them extra options out of the bullpen if necessary with the abundance of early-season days off.

While the Orioles monitored Markakis’ status over the weekend, the Red Sox announced that outfielder Shane Victorino was heading to the 15-day disabled list, prompting Boston to recall outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. to replace him on the 25-man roster.

Here are the Opening Day lineups:

BOSTON
LF Daniel Nava
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
LF Mike Carp
CF Grady Sizemore
SS Xander Bogaerts
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Will Middlebrooks

SP Jon Lester (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

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

SP Chris Tillman (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

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

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Showalter happy to see Schoop receive Opening Day opportunity

Posted on 31 March 2014 by WNST Audio

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Orioles option Gausman, McFarland, Weeks to Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 29 March 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Saturday that they have optioned right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman, left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland, and infielder Jemile Weeks to Triple-A Norfolk.

With this move, the Orioles now have 32 players at major league spring training, including three non-roster invitees.

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