Tag Archive | "MLB"

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Gausman goes to DL with right shoulder tendinitis

Posted on 08 May 2015 by Luke Jones

An already-difficult road trip for the Orioles turned worse Friday afternoon with right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman being placed on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis.

The 24-year-old warmed up briefly during Thursday night’s loss to the New York Yankees before Tommy Hunter ultimately replaced Chris Tillman in a 4-3 loss. Gausman last pitched on Wednesday, his only appearance since April 29.

According to multiple reports from New York, Gausman was given an anti-inflammatory on Thursday and could be ready to pitch in a rehab assignment before the 15-day period expires. He has reportedly been dealing with discomfort for about a week, but there was hope he would be able to pitch through it.

The 2012 first-round pick is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 innings this year.

Many have questioned the Orioles’ use of Gausman in the bullpen after he went 7-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 20 starts last season, but the power right-hander pitched brilliantly in relief during the 2014 postseason, posting a 1.13 ERA in eight innings of work. Of course, it’s impossible to know what role — if any — a different work schedule as a reliever might have played in the injury.

Lefty T.J. McFarland was summoned from Triple-A Norfolk to New York before the second game of a four-game set against the Yankees.

As expected, the Orioles activated infielder Ryan Flaherty and backup infielder Rey Navarro was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk.

 

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hardy

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Hardy activated, Cabrera sent to 15-day DL

Posted on 07 May 2015 by Luke Jones

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy made his 2015 debut Thursday after completing a three-game rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Bowie.

Sidelined since suffering a left shoulder injury in late March, Hardy went 4-for-12 with a double and one RBI with the Baysox while starting all three games at shortstop. He was activated prior to the series opener against the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

To make room on the 25-man roster, shortstop Everth Cabrera was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised foot sustained after being hit by a pitch on Wednesday night.

Hardy deemed his shoulder ready after testing it out in a variety of ways in the three games with the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate. The last hurdle for Hardy to clear had been eliminating the lingering discomfort in his shoulder that came with the full extension of his follow-through when swinging the bat, but the Orioles gave the 32-year-old a cortisone injection on April 25 to speed up the healing.

Signed to a three-year, $40 million extension last October, Hardy will rejoin an Orioles club that’s received very little production at the shortstop position. Though the 2013 All-Star selection Cabrera has played acceptable defense, his .456 on-base plus slugging percentage and minus-0.8 wins above replacement illustrate how badly manager Buck Showalter has missed Hardy’s all-around contributions at the position.

In addition to Hardy, infielder Ryan Flaherty (groin strain) is expected to rejoin the Orioles in the Bronx and will be activated on Friday, the first day he’s eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. Flaherty is expected to assume the primary second base duties as Jonathan Schoop continues to recover from a right knee injury in Sarasota.

With Hardy and Flaherty returning to the club for the Yankees series, the Orioles were faced with making two roster moves. The other is expected to be minor-league journeyman Rey Navarro being optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk.

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paredes

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Orioles surprises from first month of 2015 season

Posted on 06 May 2015 by Luke Jones

One month into the 2015 season, the Orioles have hovered around the .500 mark while remaining firmly in the American League East hunt.

Below is a look at the biggest surprises of the first month of action:

1. Ubaldo Jimenez becoming the Orioles’ best starting pitcher

Much of the starting rotation and bullpen struggled over the opening month of the season, but the maligned Jimenez was the club’s best starter, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.59 ERA in his four starts. After simplifying his mechanics late last season, Jimenez steadily improved during spring training and saw that continue into the regular season where he’s walked only eight batters in 22 2/3 innings, a significant improvement from the 5.5 walks per nine innings he issued last season. It was an unusual month for the 31-year-old as he was inexplicably ejected from a start at Fenway Park and pitched in the first empty-stadium game in major league history, but the results have been a pleasant surprise for manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles.

2. Jimmy Paredes emerging as a key member of the lineup

It was one thing to see Paredes hit well last September when the Orioles enjoyed a comfortable lead in the AL East and to follow that up with a strong spring, but who would have guessed the 26-year-old would become the everyday designated hitter and occupy the No. 2 spot in the order? Paredes’ .994 OPS is second on the club behind the scalding-hot Adam Jones, and he has collected nine extra-base hits in 56 plate appearances. Showalter has credited Paredes’ aggressive but professional approach — he’s walked only once this season — at the plate and will continue to pencil his name into the lineup until Paredes proves he shouldn’t. His defensive limitations hinder lineup flexibility, but the Orioles aren’t complaining about the offense Paredes has provided, especially with key contributors sidelined.

3. Matt Wieters still not being close to returning — and that being OK

The three-time All-Star selection caught six innings in an extended spring training game Tuesday, but he still isn’t catching on consecutive days, leading you to believe his return will be much closer to June than anyone would have expected a couple months ago. The good news is Caleb Joseph hasn’t made the Orioles miss Wieters too much as he’s hitting .286 with two home runs, seven RBIs, and an .836 on-base plus slugging percentage. Despite a slow start trying to control the running game, Joseph has stopped 33 percent of stolen-base attempts after gunning down 40 percent in 2014. I wrote before the season that it would be problematic if Wieters returned as a shell of himself defensively, but it’s clear the Orioles have slowed the pace of the veteran catcher’s rehab and Joseph’s strong play has made it easier to endure.

4. Steve Pearce starting games at second base

The 32-year-old has yet to approach his 2014 level of production, but Showalter using Pearce at second base illustrates how badly the injury bug has bitten the middle infield with J.J. Hardy, Jonathan Schoop, and Ryan Flaherty all on the 15-day disabled list. Fortunately, Hardy and Flaherty appear primed to return as early as this weekend, which will bring normalcy to the shortstop and second base positions. With Pearce and Jimmy Paredes seeing time at second base, Everth Cabrera may find himself in the minor leagues after posting a .464 OPS as the everyday shortstop in Hardy’s absence. Considering they’ve gotten below-replacement-level offense at shortstop and have used a carousel of options at second base, the Orioles should probably feel pretty good about their 12-12 record over the first month.

5. The Orioles playing an empty-stadium game and a “home” series at Tropicana Field

The unrest in Baltimore certainly disrupted the Orioles’ schedule, but Showalter, Jones, and the rest of the club handled the distractions with appropriate perspective while reflecting on the bigger issues facing the city. Playing a game in an empty Oriole Park at Camden Yards and then traveling to Tropicana Field for a “home” series against the Tampa Bay Rays was less than ideal for all parties, but the Orioles went 3-1 over that stretch. It’s the latest example of how prepared and focused Showalter has kept his players over the last few years, a major reason why the Orioles are aiming for their fourth straight winning season and third playoff appearance in four campaigns. You only hope a packed Camden Yards welcomes the Orioles back to town on May 11.

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hardy

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Hardy, Flaherty make it through first rehab game without issue

Posted on 04 May 2015 by Luke Jones

Receiving his first live-game action since injuring his left shoulder in late March, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy made it through the first game of a minor-league rehab assignment without issue on Monday.

The 32-year-old went 2-for-4 with a single and an RBI double in Double-A Bowie’s 8-0 win over Akron. Hardy and infielder Ryan Flaherty began a rehab assignment that could see both return by the weekend if all goes well. Flaherty went 1-for-4 with a double in the seventh inning.

Hardy played shortstop and batted third while Flaherty hit second and manned second base.

After both players exited the game at the end of seven innings, they reported no physical concerns to reporters, which is good news for an Orioles infield that’s been devastated by injuries at the beginning of the season. Hardy received a cortisone shot in his left shoulder on April 25 after he was continuing to feel slight discomfort at the end of his follow-through when swinging the bat.

It remains unclear how many rehab games Hardy will play before he’s deemed ready to be activated by the Orioles. Flaherty is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list as soon as he becomes eligible to do so on Friday after he was sidelined with a mild groin injury in Toronto two weeks ago.

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machado

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Machado might be best fit in leadoff spot for Orioles

Posted on 04 May 2015 by Luke Jones

Amidst the weirdness of a “home” series in St. Petersburg this weekend, the Orioles trotted out a new leadoff hitter in a series win against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Third baseman Manny Machado batted first in wins on Saturday and Sunday, his first games in the top spot in the order since doing it twice in 2013. With both Alejandro De Aza (a .219 batting average) and Everth Cabrera (.221) struggling at the plate, the 22-year-old Machado might be the best option the Orioles have for the role after the offseason departure of Nick Markakis.

It’s clear that using Machado in the No. 1 spot is something that manager Buck Showalter has considered for a while after the young infielder served in that role a number of times in spring training. His current .250 average is largely a product of an 0-for-15 start to the 2015 season as he’s batted .308 with a .927 on-base plus slugging percentage since then.

A deeper look reveals Machado might be a better fit as a leadoff hitter than most would think. He has already laid down a couple impressive bunt singles this season and leads the club with three stolen bases without being caught yet, signs that his well-documented knee concerns are hopefully behind him for good.

The biggest factor working in Machado’s favor is his improved patience at the plate. The 2010 first-round pick leads the club with 11 walks and has increased his walk rate from 5.7 percent in 2014 to 13.3 percent of his plate appearances this year. Of course, that will likely level off some as the year continues, but there’s no doubt that he’s showing more willingness to draw the base on balls since walking only 29 times in 667 plate appearances in his first full year in the majors in 2013.

So far, Orioles leadoff hitters have posted a .703 OPS while drawing only six walks — two coming from Machado in the last two games — and striking out 22 times. That’s just not what you’re looking for from the top hitter in the order who will receive more opportunities than any other spot over 162 games.

Baltimore still hopes Machado will settle into a spot in the heart of the order in the long run, but he is probably their best option as the leadoff hitter for the time being. Yes, it’s unconventional, but Showalter proved he wasn’t afraid to go a different route when he slotted Markakis in the top spot a few years ago with positive results.

Cabrera not getting it done

Shortstop J.J. Hardy beginning a minor-league rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie on Monday is great news as it appears an All-Star player is on the verge of returning to the lineup.

The Orioles have survived without Hardy through the first month of the season, but there’s no doubting they’ll welcome his production at the shortstop position where they’ve received very little so far this season. Cabrera has been acceptable defensively (three errors in 76 chances), but his .481 OPS was the third worst in the majors among qualified hitters entering Monday.

With Hardy and fellow infielder Ryan Flaherty potentially returning by the weekend, the Orioles are faced with interesting decisions with the 25-man roster. Career minor-league infielder Rey Navarro figures to be optioned, but might we see Cabrera — who has an option remaining — sent to Triple-A Norfolk as well?

Perhaps Showalter has experimented with Steve Pearce at second base this past weekend to determine whether he could be reliable enough to go with the combination of Hardy, Flaherty, and Pearce at the middle infield spots with Flaherty able to play either second base or shortstop. It would help solve — at least temporarily — a roster crunch that exists with other fringe position players such as David Lough not having any minor-league options.

Snider vs. Markakis

While no one doubted the Orioles would miss Nelson Cruz’s bat — he’s already hit 13 home runs for Seattle to lead the majors — the debate over Markakis’ departure was more interesting as most acknowledged he was already on the decline before undergoing offseason neck surgery.

In Atlanta, Markakis is hitting .292 and has drawn walks in 14.4 percent of his plate appearances, the highest walk rate of his career. However, the 31-year-old right fielder has collected just three extra-base hits — all of them doubles — and is slugging just .326 with a .720 OPS.

Travis Snider, who has seen the most time in right field for the Orioles so far, has batted .281 while posting a .773 OPS and is tied for third on the club with eight walks. Of course, Snider has struggled in the outfield with several gaffes in the early going, which you wouldn’t have seen from Markakis.

Could the Orioles use Markakis in the leadoff spot right now? Sure, but his numbers so far in 2015 don’t exactly suggest the Braves are getting the bang for their buck after awarding the former Oriole a four-year, $44 million contract. Meanwhile, Snider is making just $2.1 million and doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2016 season.

Gonzalez quietly on tear

He’s always among the first names observers talk about trying to replace, but Miguel Gonzalez continues to get the job done for the Orioles after pitching 7 2/3 shutout innings to earn his third win of 2015 in Saturday’s 4-0 final.

In the last calendar year, the 30-year-old right-hander has posted a 2.71 ERA over 159 2/3 regular-season innings. Entering Sunday, his 2.31 ERA since last year’s All-Star break was third in the American League (minimum 15 starts) behind Houston’s Dallas Keuchel (2.00) and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (2.07).

He rarely wows you with his stuff, but Gonzalez has been as reliable as anyone for the Orioles since 2012 and is off to another good start with a 2.59 ERA this season.

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hardy

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Hardy, Flaherty to begin rehab assignments Monday

Posted on 03 May 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles are moving closer to a healthier infield as manager Buck Showalter revealed J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty are set to begin a rehab assignment Monday.

The pair will report to Double-A Bowie and could be ready to rejoin the Orioles this weekend in New York. Hardy has been sidelined with a left shoulder strain since late March while Flaherty (groin strain) is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list as early as Friday.

Showalter said the Orioles will play it by ear with Hardy, who hasn’t received any live-game action since the Grapefruit League schedule, but his return will help solidify an infield that’s turned to the likes of Everth Cabrera, Rey Navarro, and even Steve Pearce at the middle infield positions. Flaherty ran the bases at Tropicana Field prior to Sunday’s finale without any reported concerns.

How the Orioles will handle their 25-man roster when Hardy and Flaherty are activated remains to be seen. Navarro possesses minor-league options and is a logical choice to be sent out, but the other move would be more complicated. David Lough and Jimmy Paredes are both out of options, but the latter has emerged as the everyday designated hitter over the last two weeks.

The Orioles could give up on Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia, but going with an 11-man pitching staff would only be a short-term fix.

Would Showalter continue the Pearce experiment at second base and choose to option Cabrera or Flaherty to Triple-A Norfolk? The veteran super utility player has survived thus far at his new position, but he has only been tested there for a couple games.

It should be interesting.

In other injury-related news, Matt Wieters continues to catch in extended spring training games every other day in Sarasota, but there is still no timetable for him to begin a rehab assignment with a minor-league affiliate. The three-time All-Star selection told reporters in St. Petersburg that recovery from soreness between games is still an issue.

Wieters is two weeks away from the 11-month mark from undergoing Tommy John surgery on June 17, 2014.

Left-handed relief pitcher Wesley Wright (left trapezius strain) is scheduled to pitch in his first extended spring game on May 19, according to Showalter.

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snl

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Saturday Night Live spoofs empty-stadium game at Camden Yards

Posted on 03 May 2015 by Luke Jones

You knew it was coming.

After the Orioles hosted the first empty-stadium game in major league history amidst the unrest in Baltimore this week, Saturday Night Live spoofed the happenings at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday afternoon. Below is the video, courtesy of SNL and NBC:

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A memorable day we hope never happens again

Posted on 29 April 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Accompanied by the punchlines and photos on social media was a sadness as a recording of the national anthem played at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday afternoon.

As if the sight of an empty ballpark moments before the start of an Orioles game wasn’t strange enough, it had just hit me that we wouldn’t hear the customary “O!” that we’ve come to expect at any major sporting event in Baltimore over the years. Out-of-towners don’t get it and even some within the community don’t care for the practice, but there are few things more “Baltimore” than our own Star-Spangled Banner trademark you’ll even hear when fans follow the Orioles or Ravens on the road.

It was just the latest reminder of how far from ideal the concept of playing a baseball game without fans truly was, but that’s when I heard the faint but audible “O!” from a few dozen fans standing beyond the left-center gate. The sound warmed the heart in a week filled with much tension and sadness in the city of Baltimore, and it suddenly made more sense for the Orioles to be playing a game at home before embarking on what will now be a nine-game road trip.

“Oh, they were heard,” said a smiling Buck Showalter when asked about those fans cheering from afar during an 8-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Of course, the Orioles returning to the field is of little consequence compared to the real problems our city is facing and will continue to deal with in the coming hours, days, and weeks. The decision not to allocate the law-enforcement officials required for a regular game was a wise one, but the quiet atmosphere was a reminder of just how important fans are to the product.

As one of the select few able to watch the game in person, I enjoyed the previously-unheard sounds of Jimmy Paredes sliding into third base or first base coach Wayne Kirby calling for Delmon Young to run out a popup, but the atmosphere reminded of a junior varsity baseball game without the pings of aluminum bats. It may have been a day that made major league history, but we can only hope it never happens again as we look ahead to the return of both the Orioles and fans to Camden Yards on May 11.

“It’s something that we hopefully don’t take for granted,” said catcher Caleb Joseph, who jokingly pretended to high-five fans and sign autographs before the game. “Days like today definitely remind you if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have jobs. Hopefully, everything can be resolved as quickly as possible.”

A game being played without any fans wasn’t what anyone truly wanted, but if it represented baby steps toward some normalcy, we’ll take it. After watching so many parts of the city burn on Monday night, just seeing baseball being played at Camden Yards again was movement in the right direction.

For those watching on television or listening on the radio on a weekday afternoon, the surreal game at least provided a temporary distraction.

“They’re always watching. You all know that,” said center fielder Adam Jones, acknowledging more fans viewing on television than those attending any game under regular circumstances. “Cameras are always on. It was good to come out and get six [runs] in the first [and] get a stronghold off a good pitcher.”

The day was helped by the Orioles rolling over starter Jeff Samardzija and the White Sox to win their third consecutive game. While players were quick to note the insignificance of winning a baseball game in the city’s current climate, you still sensed their purpose of wanting to do something positive for fans despite their inability to attend the game.

Of course, the run of baseball-related distractions and sacrifice isn’t over for the Orioles as they’ll now play a “home” series — with home uniforms and all — against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg this weekend. But leaving town on a winning note helps.

“You tried to stay focused on the competition and us trying to get where we want to be at the end of the season,” Showalter said. “But I also talked to [players] about the people who are going to be sitting around our city watching this game. How many things have really gone on normal here in the last few days in our society?”

Yes, the perception of playing in an empty stadium was less than appealing, but it beat the alternative of canceling a third consecutive game at an abandoned Camden Yards. If it served as even a few minutes of leisure from the tension that currently exists in our city, the unorthodox measure was worth it.

There are much bigger issues at work in Baltimore — ones that won’t be solved overnight — but to hear cheers from those fans standing beyond the gates was a reminder of just how important something so unimportant can be. It isn’t a coincidence that we’ve occasionally heard the “Seven Nation Army” chants from protesters over the last couple days, either.

Sports have brought and will continue to bring us together, which is why I look forward to once again seeing a packed Camden Yards — hopefully as early as May 11.

“The last 72 hours I think in this city have been tumultuous, to say the least,” Jones said. “We’ve seen good, we’ve seen bad, we’ve seen ugly. We’ve seen our games canceled, postponed, relocated, a lot of families relocated.

“It’s a city that’s hurting, and a city that needs its heads to stand up, step up, and help the ones that are hurting. It’s not an easy time right now for anybody. It doesn’t matter what race you are. It’s a tough time for the city of Baltimore.”

One day at a time.

As unusual and less than perfect Wednesday’s game was, it was comforting to have a diversion.

It was good to hear that familiar “O!” in the distance.

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buck

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Orioles to play in empty Camden Yards this afternoon

Posted on 28 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Facing circumstances not witnessed in Baltimore in over four decades, the Orioles have announced changes for the remainder of their scheduled homestand, which will include a 2:05 game Wednesday to be played in an empty Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Due to the citywide curfew and continuing safety concerns after Monday’s riots, the Orioles moved their scheduled 7:05 p.m. first pitch to the afternoon on Wednesday. The game will be closed to the public but will still be televised on MASN, which will surely create a surreal atmosphere at the ballpark. This comes after the first two games of a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox were postponed due to safety concerns stemming from Monday’s riots.

It will mark the first time in major league history that a game will be played without a paying crowd, according to Major League Baseball historian John Thorn. The lowest-attended game took place in 1882.

After consulting with city and local officials as well as MLB, the Orioles have moved their weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays to Tropicana Field. There had been discussions about the clubs swapping dates for a home series, but Baltimore will instead serve as the home team and will receive the gate for the weekend games in St. Petersburg minus costs incurred by the Rays.

“After conversations with the Orioles and local officials, we believe that these decisions are in the best interests of fan safety and the deployment of city resources,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by violence in Baltimore, and everyone in our game hopes for peace and the safety of a great American city.”

Ubaldo Jimenez and Jeff Samardzija will remain as the scheduled starters for Wednesday’s game.

The postponed games against Chicago will be made up as part of a single-admission doubleheader on May 28 beginning at 4:05 p.m. Tickets for Monday’s postponed contest will be valid for the doubleheader with fans unable to attend having the opportunity to exchange their tickets for any remaining home game this season. All those with tickets to games on April 29, May 1, May 2, or May 3 at Camden Yards may exchange their tickets for any remaining home game. All of these exchanges will be made on a “dollar for dollar” basis.

All tickets are subject to availability and exchanges must be completed by June 30.

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camdenyardsentrance

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Tuesday’s Orioles-White Sox game also postponed

Posted on 28 April 2015 by Luke Jones

As Baltimore tries to recover from one of the darkest times in its history, the Orioles have postponed Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

Despite discussions about playing in the afternoon, the club elected to postpone a second consecutive game after consulting with state and local officials as well as Major League Baseball. Even if games can be played at Oriole Park at Camden Yards this week, start times figure to be impacted by the citywide 10 p.m. curfew beginning Tuesday night that is scheduled to last for the next week.

With law enforcement officials having so many more important matters to address in the Charm City, the involved parties ultimately made the right call not using resources for a baseball game so soon after Monday’s riots.

Safety remains the highest priority, but complicating matters is this being the only trip into Baltimore for the White Sox this season. The Orioles are off on Thursday, but Chicago will be beginning a series in Minnesota.

Like Monday’s postponement, no makeup date has been announced, but fans are asked to keep their tickets and parking passes until more information is available.

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