Tag Archive | "Nelson Cruz"

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Future’s uncertainty always most painful as Orioles bow out of postseason

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Luke Jones

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A sweep was a bitter way for a season to end after the Orioles won 96 games to secure their first American League East title in 17 years.

Overcoming season-ending injuries to Matt Wieters and Manny Machado as well as enduring the 25-game suspension and poor performance of slugger Chris Davis, the Orioles arguably had their most rewarding year since their last World Series title in 1983. But that magic and mojo finally expired against the Kansas City Royals, who didn’t embarrass Baltimore but was just a little bit better across the board as they won their first AL pennant since 1985.

Even if 2014 ultimately proves to be the Royals’ year — and an 8-0 postseason mark certainly suggests it is — the end still hurts.

“There’s a lot of positive things there. But it’s kind of shallow,” manager Buck Showalter said. “There’s so many things that during the year, it’s just an unspoken word, a look at each other, there’s a real respect for each other. And like I just told them, the game’s not always fair. Someone’s going to be extremely disappointed.”

The Orioles have quite a juxtaposition of half-full and half-empty outlooks as they conclude 2014, but the uncertainty of navigating another offseason and another 162-game marathon to try to get back to this same point next year — with a different outcome, of course — always makes you wonder if they’ll make it back. The AL East doesn’t figure to feature underwhelming versions of both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox for a second straight year, so that alone forces you to take pregnant pause.

Even as disappointment wanes and fans begin to reflect on the Orioles’ third straight winning season and first division title since 1997, expectations have only soared for executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, Showalter, and the current club. But as is the case with any offseason, some change will be inevitable.

“You know, [2012] was unexpected, in ’13 we had expectations, and here we were doing something that hasn’t been done in a long time,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “I think expectations have risen a little bit in Baltimore and that’s good. I don’t mind expectations being risen, because I’m going to come back to spring training ready to get back to this position. It’s a great position to be in the ALCS.”

With those heightened expectations in mind, how do the Orioles improve for next season? As always, the quest will continue to improve their pitching depth while hoping 23-year-old Kevin Gausman takes another step forward, but do Duquette and Showalter tinker dramatically with an offense that relied too much on the home run?

The addition of some speed would benefit, but the Orioles also expect to have Wieters, Machado, and Davis back in the picture, which should provide significant overall improvement to the offense. But the lineup could look different without Nelson Cruz anchoring the cleanup spot.

After signing a one-year, $8 million deal during spring training to come to Baltimore, Cruz will be seeking a long-term deal for lucrative money, but he is 34 years old and coming off a career season in which he hit 40 homers. As we saw with Davis’ disastrous 2014 campaign a year after he hit a franchise-record 53 home runs, you don’t want to make a snap reaction based on a career season and set your price based on that.

Cruz acknowledged he may have played his last game with the Orioles after Wednesday’s 2-1 loss in Kansas City.

“It’s there, but I want to come back,” Cruz said. “We’ll just wait and see what happens. I love the clubhouse. I love all my teammates. The whole organization is great — even the guys you don’t see every day. I appreciate that.”

The Orioles also face difficult decisions with right fielder Nick Markakis and lefty reliever Andrew Miller, who will also become free agents. Miller was the club’s best pitcher in the postseason, but he is expected to receive an enormous amount of attention on the open market and could be paid lucratively to become a closer elsewhere.

Though they were able to re-sign shortstop J.J. Hardy to a contract extension last week, the Orioles know that Wieters and Davis will be free agents after 2015. Duquette was more aggressive this year than he was over his first two offseasons running the club as he signed Cruz and starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, so will we see the Orioles once again be bold to set up for another run next season or take a more conservative approach even though they face the loss of two more key players next winter?

It’s tough to say as even the career-long Oriole Markakis doesn’t know for sure if he’ll be back or if the organization will elect to go in a different direction as his power has declined over the last few seasons.

“I don’t know; you never know,” Markakis said. “Baseball is a funny game and anything can happen. Take some time off and see where that ball goes.”

It’s that unknown that makes Wednesday’s loss and the abrupt end of a terrific season that much more frustrating.

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Cruz on Royals: “They’re coming back” to Camden Yards

Posted on 13 October 2014 by Luke Jones

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After two days of hearing questions about the inflammatory comments made by Kansas City Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson, Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz finally bit just a little after downplaying any significance of the bulletin board material.

Dyson said after Game 2 of the American League Championship Series that he didn’t expect to return to Oriole Park at Camden Yards later in the series and that Orioles players didn’t believe they would, either. A day later during the teams’ workout at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, the reserve outfielder — who’s 0-for-2 attempting to steal bases over the first two games of the series — questioned how much fight the Orioles might have left.

Cruz was asked Monday whether he expected the series to return to Baltimore later this week, and the 34-year-old took the opportunity to finally take a veiled shot at Dyson.

“Oh yeah, ” said Cruz as he cracked a smile. “They’re coming back, too.”

To this point, the designated hitter has allowed his bat to do the talking in the playoffs as he’s hit .476 with two home runs and seven runs batted in over 22 plate appearances this October.

In 39 career postseason games, Cruz has hit an incredible 16 home runs and batted .306 with a 1.059 on-base plus slugging percentage. The veteran said the Orioles aren’t concerned with how anyone outside their clubhouse feels about their chances with a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-seven series, and they’re eager to prove it upon getting back on the field after Monday’s Game 3 postponement.

“There’s going to be talk. You can’t help it,” Cruz said. “There’s going to be talk, but you stay in the present and focus on whatever you need to focus on and whatever you can control.”

Most players have taken the high road in responding to Dyson’s confidence, but manager Buck Showalter and a couple others have taken a different approach in agreeing that the Royals have a right to feel good about themselves after winning two games at Camden Yards.

But that doesn’t mean the Orioles haven’t made a mental note as the series is now scheduled to resume on Tuesday night. And you do wonder why a player who’s had such a small role in his club’s success in Game 1 and 2 would find the need to act as the Royals’ spokesman.

“He’s trying to get his team jacked up. It is what it is,” closer Zach Britton said. “They should be confident. They played some good games, but we’re not going to let what he says dictate the way we go out and play, and we understand that.”

Gausman embracing relief role with eye on future

With Monday’s rainout, the Orioles hope to potentially find themselves planning for who might start a deciding Game 7 with the teams now set to potentially play five straight days.

That responsibility could ultimately fall on normal No. 5 starter Kevin Gausman, who’s worked exclusively out of the bullpen to this point in October. In two appearances spanning 5 1/3 innings — one outing each against Detroit and Kansas City — Gausman has allowed only one earned run and four hits while striking out six and walking two.

“I hope that we’re back here next year and the near future, and hopefully, I’m starting one of these games,” Gausman said. “That’s what I would like, obviously, in the future. But anytime you have success in the postseason, it definitely helps not only yourself but your confidence level and it says a lot about your career.”

Gausman has proven to be a valuable piece out of the bullpen after he got his feet wet in that capacity as a rookie last year. In his 15 relief appearances a year ago, the 2012 first-round pick pitched to a 3.52 ERA and struck out 11.3 batters per nine innings.

Showalter hasn’t shied away from using Gausman as more than just a long man out of the bullpen as he was trusted to keep the Orioles close in Game 2 of the AL Division Series, allowing his offense to eventually stage the comeback win. The 23-year-old was then used in Game 1 of the ALCS to keep the Orioles within one run as they tied the score while he was still in the game.

“It’s not so weird for me,” said Gausman about once again having a relief role after starting all season. “I feel like if we put any other starter down in the bullpen, it might take him a little while to get used to it. When I was told I was going out there, I wasn’t mad or upset. I just kind of took it as a challenge, and I think it’s really fun coming out of the bullpen. That’s when you have your best stuff, and you get to kind of showcase [it].”

Duquette wheeling and meal-ing

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette expressed confidence Monday that his club would be ready to play whenever the weather would allow the series to resume.

But he may have offered the line of the day when a reporter asked if he planned on signing anyone else to a contract extension to provide some material for media on a slow news day after Monday’s postponement.

“I’m going to sign the room service [bill] at the hotel,” he said.

Duquette signed shortstop J.J. Hardy to a three-year, $40 million extension with a vested option last Thursday.

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Fingerprints of Duquette all over Orioles’ Game 3 clincher

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Luke Jones

Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter would be the first to tell you much of the foundation of the Orioles’ run to their first American League Championship Series since 1997 was in place before they arrived in Baltimore several years ago.

Others may have been responsible for bringing the likes of Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, J.J. Hardy, and Zach Britton to Baltimore years ago, but it was Duquette’s fingerprints all over the Orioles’ 2-1 victory to complete the three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. In fact, a trio of acquisitions made over the last 15 months — winning pitcher Bud Norris, slugger Nelson Cruz, and lefty reliever Andrew Miller — played a critical part in Baltimore sweeping its first postseason series since 1971 and sending the big-name Tigers home for the offseason.

Acquired in exchange for unspectacular outfield prospect L.J. Hoes, 19-year-old pitching prospect Josh Hader, and a draft pick in late July of last season, Norris may not have made the difference in 2013 as the Orioles fell short of the postseason, but the reasonable asking price as well as two extra years of club control made the former Houston Astros pitcher more attractive to Duquette than other seasoned pitchers with expensive or expiring contracts on the trade market.

Making his postseason debut after Miguel Gonzalez was initially slated to pitch in Game 3, Norris pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings while striking out six and allowing two hits to shut down a formidable Detroit lineup that had given him plenty of trouble in two starts earlier this season. Commanding his four-seam fastball and keeping the Tigers scoreless as the Orioles faced 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price, Norris offered a gutsy performance to build on a strong campaign that included a 15-8 record with a 3.65 ERA in 28 starts this season.

It was Cruz who provided Norris with just enough run support as he homered inside the right-field foul pole in the top of the sixth to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. It was the 34-year-old’s second homer of the series and 16th career postseason homer to pass Babe Ruth on the all-time list, which came after a 40-homer season that resulted in him being named the club’s most valuable player in late September.

No, Cruz wasn’t a diamond in the rough despite no club being willing to invest a long-contract in a player tainted and suspended due to last year’s Biogenesis scandal, but Duquette saw the opportunity to add a slugger on the cheap for a lineup that needed another middle-of-the-order bat. A one-year, $8 million investment made during spring training has never worked out better for the Orioles as Cruz responded with the best season of his 10-year career.

After carrying the Orioles through the first 2 1/2 months of the season and heating up once again over the final few weeks of September, Cruz once again was the offensive hero as the Orioles faced a third straight Cy Young Award winner on Sunday at Comerica Park. His flick of the bat on a high and outside pitch from Price put the Orioles ahead and further depressed what was already a subdued crowd watching their Tigers try to climb out of an 0-2 hole.

The heroics of Norris and Cruz paved the way for Miller, the acquisition that most of baseball ignored while Oakland acquired Jon Lester and the Tigers traded for Price. Those high-profile trades for aces were viewed by many experts as the moves that would automatically send the Athletics and Detroit to a meeting in the ALCS

Miller retired all five hitters he faced in Game 3, including the top three hitters in the Tigers lineup in the bottom of the eighth inning. While many criticized — or at least questioned — the Orioles’ inability to land a top-of-the-rotation starter at the trade deadline, Duquette dealt pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox for the tall left-hander, who’s dominance has transformed the Orioles bullpen from good to great over the last two months.

Pitching to a 1.35 ERA and averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 23 regular-season appearances for Baltimore, Miller’s 32-pitch performance in Game 1 matched his highest total of the year and he allowed only one runner in 3 1/3 innings in the ALDS.

No, it wasn’t the sexy move and it’s not as though Lester or Price pitched poorly in their new homes, but Duquette and Showalter have constantly preached the desire to acquire players that are the right fit for their club — not necessarily the biggest or most expensive names. Miller certainly fit the bill as a reliever with great strikeout ability and excellent numbers against hitters from both sides of the plate.

And it’s a move that’s been an integral part of the Orioles continuing to play in October while the Tigers and Athletics have already been eliminated.

The Orioles’ executive vice president of baseball operations has often been teased by outsiders for his decade-long absence from the majors as well as his off-the-wall moves that many have even labeled dumpster diving. Not every move has turned to gold — he did sign high-priced free agent Ubaldo Jimenez, after all — but you couldn’t help but tip your cap to Duquette in watching Sunday’s game play out with the Orioles earning the series win.

A one-year contract and two deadline trades that appeared solid but unspectacular couldn’t have paid off any better in Game 3. And while Duquette may not have built the entire core of the current club from the ground up, the pieces he’s added in recent months have helped put the Orioles four wins away from an American League pennant.

 

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Cruz receives 2014 Most Valuable Oriole award

Posted on 21 September 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Sunday that NELSON CRUZ has been voted winner of the 2014 Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award by members of the local media who cover the team on a regular basis. He was recognized for his accomplishments in an on-field ceremony prior to Sunday’s regular season home finale against the Boston Red Sox.

Cruz enters play today leading the major leagues with 39 home runs, and he has surpassed the 100-RBI mark for the first time in his career in 2014. His 39 homers are the second-most by a first-year Oriole in club history, trailing only FRANK ROBINSON’s 49 in 1966. Cruz also became the sixth different Oriole to record a season of 35 or more home runs and 30 or more doubles, joining CHRIS DAVIS (2013), ALBERT BELLE (1999), RAFAEL PALMEIRO (1995, ’96 and ’98), BRADY ANDERSON (1996) and Robinson (1966).

Cruz made the American League All-Star Team for the third time in his career, earning his first fan-elected start as the Designated Hitter with over three million votes. Coming into play today, he has already set single-season career-highs in plate appearances (649), hits (157), home runs (39), RBI (105), walks (55), extra-base hits (72), and total bases (308). Cruz was also recognized with two American League Player of the Week Award honors: September 7 and June 2.

The Most Valuable Oriole Award is named in honor of the late LOU HATTER, a former sportswriter for the Baltimore Sun who covered the Orioles for 27 years. Balloting for the Most Valuable Oriole Award is conducted with voting on a 5-3-1 basis. ADAM JONES also received first place votes and finished second. ZACH BRITTON finished third and WEI-YIN CHEN, J.J. HARDY, NICK MARKAKIS, DARREN O’DAY, STEVE PEARCE, and CHRIS TILLMAN also received votes.

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Cruz: “There’s no doubt that I’d like to stay” with Orioles

Posted on 29 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Few players have made as much of an impact in their first season in Baltimore as Nelson Cruz, and he and the Orioles are interested in continuing their relationship beyond 2014.

The 34-year-old outfielder confirmed to reporters prior to Friday’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins that his agent, Adam Katz, and the Orioles have had discussions regarding a contract extension since the All-Star break. However, those talks have been “nothing serious” beyond a preliminary basis.

“I like the clubhouse and I like the guys,” Cruz said. “But at the same time, I’ve been through this before, and this is a business. It’s the owner and the [general manager’s] decision. But there’s no doubt that I’d like to stay.”

Entering Friday night, Cruz led the major leagues with 34 homers and was hitting .256 with a club-leading 88 runs batted in. In a season in which the Orioles have lost catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado to season-ending injuries and slugging first baseman Chris Davis is hitting an anemic .188, Cruz is a major reason why the Orioles own a comfortable lead in the American League East entering Labor Day weekend.

Through June 4, Cruz looked like a favorite to be the AL Most Valuable Player when he was hitting .319 with 21 homers, 55 RBIs, and a 1.064 on-base plus slugging percentage in 242 plate appearances. However, in 311 plate appearances since then, the veteran slugger has batted only .208 with 13 home runs, 33 RBIs, and a .658 OPS.

Cruz has been a welcome addition in the Orioles clubhouse as he’s been popular with teammates and had a previous relationship with manager Buck Showalter going back to their days with the Texas Rangers.

“Obviously, Nelson’s had a good year. I’ve known him for quite a while,” Showalter said. “He’s been a good teammate. Right now, we’re focused on these next 30-odd games, and we’ll see [after that]. The people that are responsible for that and do that for a living, I’ll let them handle it. I’m concentrating on managing and trying to stay out of the way and keep things going in a good direction.

“Nelson’s one of the reason why we have this opportunity. Certainly, we’d like to have that continue. They ask me what I think about how things fit baseball-wise, but I don’t get into the financial part of it. The further we play and the more we do, the better chance [he stays], I guess.”

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will face a number of critical decisions this offseason as Cruz isn’t the only impact player scheduled to become a free agent. J.J. Hardy will also see his three-year contract expire and figures to be in high demand with shortstop production at such a premium around the major leagues. The Orioles must also exercise a $17.5 million option to prevent longtime right fielder Nick Markakis from potentially becoming a free agent.

Wieters and Davis are also scheduled to become free agents following the 2015 season and could command lucrative contracts to remain in Baltimore.

Given the difficulty Cruz faced finding a new home following his 50-game suspension due to the Biogenesis scandal before signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles in spring training, he may feel a tad more loyalty than most players would after only signing a one-year contract. On the flip side, the Orioles must be careful not to overpay for a player who is 34 years old and not having a particularly strong second half of the season.

“I’m not in a rush right now. I just want to stay focused on what we have right now,” Cruz said. “Hopefully, we go where we’re supposed to go and get it done. We’d like it to be done before, but my main goal is to go to the playoffs.”

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Aiming high only way to go if Orioles want to add starting pitching

Posted on 16 July 2014 by Luke Jones

You can never have too much starting pitching, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has repeated that sentiment despite the Orioles enjoying a four-game lead in the American League East at the All-Star break.

The Orioles rank fifth in the American League in pitching and 11th in starting pitching, but unlike the last couple seasons in which they were often desperately looking for just a warm body or two to add to the mix, the starting rotation appears to be moving in the right direction. Even with the season-long struggles of the injured Ubaldo Jimenez, the starting pitching has posted a 3.18 ERA over the last 33 games spanning 198 innings, lowering the starting pitching ERA from 4.61 to 4.09 since June 9.

No one will mistake this rotation for the 1971 Orioles, but Duquette should be picky in any quest to add starting pitching between now and the trade deadline at the end of the month. Wondering whether the club has the quality to compete with the front end of other playoff rotations in October is fair, but the upside of Kevin Gausman and even the second-half track record of Jimenez — who has been dominant for stretches of his career when his mechanics are in order — will be worth monitoring down the stretch with an eye toward the postseason.

Even if the Orioles still lack top-half quality, they have more stability in their rotation than they’ve enjoyed in a long time.

Manager Buck Showalter has used just seven starting pitchers all year with one of them — lefty reliever T.J. McFarland — receiving only one start. In 2013, 14 different pitchers made starts and 10 made at least four starts. The year before that, 12 different hurlers made starts with 10 making at least four starts.

Stability — with relatively decent health — has afforded Duquette the luxury of not needing to look for the likes of Scott Feldman, Joe Saunders, Jair Jurrjens, and Freddy Garcia on this year’s market. That’s what made the recent news of the Orioles scouting Colorado lefty Jorge De La Rosa that much more perplexing as he doesn’t represent an apparent upgrade over anyone — including Jimenez — in the current rotation with his 4.56 ERA in 2014 and 4.69 career mark.

The Orioles have also been linked to San Diego’s Ian Kennedy, who has posted a 3.47 ERA in 20 starts, but he’s a career 3.94 ERA pitcher who’s spent most of his career in the National League. The Padres will likely be asking for a lot for the right-hander, and Duquette shouldn’t part ways with the precious few top prospects he has unless he’s positive he’s gaining a substantial upgrade. Kennedy may provide that, but his talent level should only be the baseline at which the Orioles are looking at this point.

More so than even in 2013 or 2012, the Orioles have plenty of quality when it comes to filling out the back of the rotation. They have an abundance of No. 4 and No. 5 starters.

An injury or two could obviously change that tune quickly, but Duquette must aim high if the Orioles are to add starting pitching between now and the end of the July. Jeff Samardzija has already been dealt to Oakland and David Price may not be traded at all — and they probably don’t have the freight to acquire the AL East pitcher, anyway — but those are the types of arms to be examining.

Anything less is just a waste of time and resources.

Standing pat at catcher

Many have asked about the possibility of the Orioles adding another catcher to the mix as Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley have handled the workload since Matt Wieters underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery, but Duquette has said on several occasions that they’re unlikely to make another move in that department.

Boston officially released A.J. Pierzynski on Wednesday, but the Orioles don’t view him as a significant upgrade offensively — the 37-year-old posted just a .633 on-base plus slugging percentage with the Red Sox — to compromise the rapport Joseph and Hundley have built with the pitching staff and the defensive work they’ve displayed over the better part of two months. And that’s not even mentioning Pierzynski’s outspoken personality that could potentially compromise a strong clubhouse.

Hundley has come on lately with the bat, raising his average to a respectable .250, while Joseph has posted a .690 OPS since the beginning of June and had a solid offensive track record in the minor leagues despite his current .187 average. Neither will fool you as quality offensive catchers, but trying to add an impact backstop while bringing him up to speed with the pitching staff will be extremely difficult.

If the Orioles are looking for an offensive boost, they could take another extended look at Steve Clevenger, but Showalter is going to value defensive work behind the plate and the current duo — particularly Joseph — has done an admirable job in that department.

Left-handed bat still needed

The emergence of Steve Pearce has been one of the great stories of the 2014 season, but the Orioles shouldn’t assume the 31-year-old will continue to perform at a rate that warrants everyday playing time with no questions asked.

His .316 average, 11 home runs, and 31 runs batted in are a major reason why Baltimore currently sits in first place, but it’s still a stretch to expect his current .300 average and .846 OPS against right-handed pitching to continue. For his career, Pearce is hitting just .237 with a .667 OPS against right-handers and that’s including his amazing numbers this season.

In other words, a left-handed hitting outfielder that feasts against right-handed pitching should be a priority to add for the stretch as the only left-handed bats to make real contributions this season are Nick Markakis and the struggling Chris Davis. The speedy Lough has been a major disappointment at the plate, and the Orioles must anticipate the possibility of needing to platoon Pearce if he reverts to his career form.

Even if Pearce continues to thrive as an everyday player, the Orioles would benefit from a left-handed version of Delmon Young to come off the bench in the late innings as Lough and utility player Ryan Flaherty just don’t provide formidable options at the plate. The Orioles had looked into the services of Padres outfielder Seth Smith, who feasts against right-handed pitching, before he signed a two-year extension with San Diego earlier this month.

A player of that ilk would make perfect sense for the roster.

Pondering futures of Cruz and Davis

It’s incredible to think how much can change in a year as Orioles fans were clamoring for the organization to sign Davis to a long-term contract as he entered the All-Star break with 37 home runs last year and would go on to hit a franchise record 53 in 2013. Meanwhile, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz was a couple weeks away from beginning a 50-game suspension stemming from his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

A year later, Davis sits with a lowly .199 average at the break while Cruz has parlayed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Orioles into what looks like a pending lucrative payday as he’s second in the majors with 28 home runs and has often carried the Baltimore offense this year while Davis and others have struggled.

It’s interesting to see so many fans crushing Davis for his poor first half — that’s not to say criticism hasn’t been warranted — while screaming for the Orioles to sign the 34-year-old Cruz to a long-term contract when many of those same fans wanted to give Davis the keys to the city last offseason.

The Orioles will certainly make Cruz a qualifying offer after the season to at least recover a draft pick and should see if he’s willing to sign a short-term extension at a higher annual cost per year, but giving him more than two or three years at the most would be a mistake for an aging player coming off what looks to be his career year.

Davis’ future will be more interesting to figure out as he tries to rebound from a miserable first half and remains under team control through next season.

 

 

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Jones, Cruz, Wieters named American League All-Star starters

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

2014 All-Star Game Starters Announced

Jose Bautista Finishes as Baseball’s Leading Vote-Getter for Second Time in Four Years After Edging Out Fellow A.L. Outfielder Mike Trout; Troy Tulowitzki Tallies Highest Vote Total Among National Leaguers; Derek Jeter Earns Ninth Starting Assignment in Final Midsummer Classic; Adam Jones Surpasses Yoenis Cespedes for Final A.L. Outfield Spot

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, Major League Baseball’s leading vote-getter for the second time in four seasons (also 2011), and Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who led the National League in voting, will be among the starters in the 85th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota. The 2014 American League and National League All-Star Teams were unveiled earlier this evening during the “Taco Bell™ All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN.

Bautista, who finished with 5,859,019 votes, earns his fourth consecutive fan election and fifth All-Star selection overall. He is the 10th different A.L. outfielder in history to earn four straight fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson (four from 1972-75 and five from 1980-84); Dave Winfield (six from 1983-88); Rickey Henderson (four from 1985-88); and Kirby Puckett (four from 1992-95); as well as Ken Griffey, Jr. (10 from 1990-99); Manny Ramirez (eight from 1999-2006); Vladimir Guerrero (four from 2004-07); Ichiro Suzuki (four from 2001-04 and five from 2006-10); and Josh Hamilton (five from 2008-12). The Dominican Republic native, who also finished as the overall online vote leader, is the second player in Blue Jays franchise history to earn four fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar (1991-94). Bautista, the captain of the A.L. squad at the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, has reached base safely in 77 of his 82 starts this season entering play on Sunday. He leads the A.L. with a .423 on-base percentage and 60 walks, is seventh with 56 runs scored, eighth with a .529 slugging percentage and tied for 10th with 17 home runs.

Tulowitzki, now an All-Star for the fourth time in his career, totaled 5,349,456 votes, which was the third-highest total in the Majors. After also earning the fan election in 2013, he becomes the first N.L. shortstop to receive back-to-back starting assignments since Hanley Ramirez (2008-10). In addition, Tulowitzki is just the third player in Rockies history to earn multiple fan elections, joining Larry Walker (1997-99) and former teammate Todd Helton (2001-03). Tulowitzki, who will serve as the N.L. captain during the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, entered Sunday leading the Majors with a .350 batting average, .441 on-base percentage and 66 runs scored. In addition, he was second in the Majors with a .608 slugging percentage, second in the N.L. with 18 home runs, fourth with 172 total bases, fifth with a .343 batting average with runners in scoring position, tied for sixth with 29 multi-hit games and tied for eighth with 99 hits.

Tulowitzki’s A.L. counterpart will be New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who has now been elected to start by the fans nine times. Jeter, now a 14-time All-Star overall, garnered 3,928,422 votes to become the seventh player in A.L. history to earn at least nine fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Rod Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Griffey (10 with Seattle); teammate Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas). Jeter, who entered play on Sunday eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,397 hits, is one of three players in Major League history with at least 3,000 hits, 250 home runs and 350 stolen bases, along with Craig Biggio and Hall of Famer Henderson. In his final season, the future Hall of Famer is hitting .266 with 21 RBI and 28 runs scored.

Bautista is joined in the A.L. outfield by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. Trout tallied 5,559,705 votes, good for the second-highest total overall in the Majors, while Jones received 2,817,419 as he pulled ahead of Yoenis Cespedes (2,744,074) of the Oakland Athletics in the final week of balloting. Trout, now a three-time All-Star, earns his second straight fan election to become the fifth player in Angels history to receive consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Carew (1979-84) and Jackson (1982-84), as well as Fred Lynn (1982-83) and Guerrero (2004-07). In 2013, Trout became the youngest A.L. position player to start a Midsummer Classic since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993. With his third All-Star selection, he becomes just the fourth A.L. outfielder in Major League history to receive three All-Star nods before his 23rd birthday, joining Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Al Kaline, as well as Griffey. For the second consecutive season, Trout has at least 15 home runs and at least 10 stolen bases before the All-Star break, joining his hitting coach Don Baylor (1978-79) as the only Angels to ever accomplish the feat in back-to-back seasons. Entering play today, Trout was batting .362 (51-for-141) over his last 36 games, and he had recorded 41 RBI over his last 46 contests. On the season, he ranks second in the A.L. with 48 extra-base hits, a .401 on-base percentage and a .606 slugging percentage, is third with 189 total bases, tied for third with 51 walks, fifth with five triples and 20 home runs, tied for fifth with 57 runs scored and tied for eighth with a .308 batting average.

Jones, selected to his fourth career Midsummer Classic, receives a starting assignment for the second consecutive season. He becomes the sixth player in Orioles history to earn multiple fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Frank Robinson (1970-71), Brooks Robinson (1971-74), Ripken (1984-87; 1989-2001) and Alomar (1996-98), as well as Boog Powell (1970-71). Jones is also the first O’s outfielder to garner consecutive fan elections since Frank Robinson and the first Orioles outfielder to make at least three consecutive All-Star squads since Robinson (1969-72). Jones, who hit .348 (39-for-112) with nine homers and 20 RBI in June, is batting .469 (15-for-32) over his nine-game hitting streak entering Sunday. He is second in the A.L. with 110 hits, tied for fifth with 32 multi-hit games and 180 total bases and seventh with a .309 batting average.

A trio of first-time starters fills the N.L. outfield, including reigning league Most Valuable PlayerAndrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who led the way with 4,519,440 votes. He is followed by Carlos Gomez (4,068,745) of the Milwaukee Brewers and Yasiel Puig (4,059,746) of the Los Angeles Dodgers. McCutchen, an All-Star for the fourth time, becomes the first Pirates player to win a fan election since outfielder Jason Bay in 2006. The 27-year-old McCutchen is also just the seventh player in Pirates history to garner a fan election, joining Bay, Barry Bonds (1992-93), Andy Van Slyke (1992-93), Dave Parker (1977-78, 1980-81), and Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente (1972) and Willie Stargell (1971-72). In addition, McCutchen is the first Pittsburgh player to be named an All-Star in four consecutive years since Clemente (1969-72). McCutchen, who has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games entering play on Sunday, led all Major League players with 20 extra-base hits during the month of June, and he was the first Pirates player with 20 extra-base hits in one month since Brian Giles in June 2001. Coming into the day, he ranked first in the N.L. with 56 walks, second with a .423 on-base percentage, third with a .322 batting average, 42 extra-base hits and 175 total bases, tied for third with 104 hits and 26 doubles, fourth with a .542 slugging percentage and a .351 batting average with runners in scoring position, tied for fourth with 53 RBI and tied for sixth with 29 multi-hit games.

Gomez, an All-Star for the second consecutive season, joins teammate Ryan Braun (2008-11) as the only Brewers outfielders in franchise history to land a fan-elected starting assignment. Gomez, who posted a career-best and Milwaukee season-high 18-game hitting streak in June, started play today third in the N.L. with a .358 batting average with runners in scoring position, ninth with a .511 slugging percentage, tied for ninth with 162 total bases and 14 stolen bases and tied for 10th with 52 runs scored.

Puig, in his second Major League season, gives the Dodgers a fan-elected outfielder in the Midsummer Classic for the fourth time in the last five years, following the elections of Andre Ethier (2010) and Matt Kemp (2011-12). The Cuban native, who is the N.L. starting squad’s only first-time All-Star, entered Sunday tied for second in the N.L. with 30 multi-hit games, sixth with 164 total bases, seventh with a .393 on-base percentage and a .516 slugging percentage, and eighth with a .337 batting average with runners in scoring position and a .308 batting average overall. He becomes just the fifth different Cuban player to win a fan election, joining Hall of Famer Tony Perez (1970), Tony Oliva (1971), Bert Campaneris (1973-75) and Jose Canseco (1988-90, 1992, 1999).

Reigning two-time A.L. Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers led A.L. first basemen with 4,377,749 votes en route to his eighth All-Star selection and second fan-elected start following his fan election at third base a year ago. The Venezuelan native becomes just the fifth player in Tigers history to earn multiple fan-elected starting assignments at the Midsummer Classic, joining catchers Bill Freehan (1970, 1972), Lance Parrish (1984-86), Ivan Rodriguez (2004, 2006-07) and second baseman Lou Whitaker (1984-86). In addition, the 2012 Triple Crown winner joins former teammate Prince Fielder (2012) as the only fan-elected starting first basemen in Tigers history. Cabrera also becomes the first Tigers position player to be selected to the All-Star Game in five consecutive seasons since Whitaker (1983-87). Over the last eight seasons, eight different A.L. first basemen have won a fan election, including David Ortiz (2007), Kevin Youkilis (2008), Mark Teixeira (2009), Justin Morneau (2010), Adrian Gonzalez (2011), Fielder (2012) and Chris Davis (2013). Entering play today, Cabrera led the A.L. with 32 doubles, ranked second with a .370 batting average with runners in scoring position, third with 46 extra-base hits, fourth with 67 RBI, sixth with a .311 batting average and a .540 slugging percentage, seventh with 174 total bases and ninth with 100 hits.

Joining Cabrera on the right side of the A.L. infield is Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, who will reunite with his former teammate Jeter up the middle. Cano, in his first season with Seattle, tallied 3,237,735 votes to secure his sixth All-Star selection and fifth consecutive fan election. He joins Hall of Famers Carew (six straight, 1970-75) and Alomar (five straight, 1996-2000) as the only second basemen in A.L. history to earn five straight fan elections. In addition, Cano joins Bret Boone (2001) as the only fan-elected starting second basemen in Mariners history, and he is just the fourth Seattle infielder overall to receive an election from the fans, joining Boone, John Olerud (1B, 2001) and former teammate Alex Rodriguez (SS, 1997-98; 2000). Cano entered play today leading the A.L. with a .373 batting average with runners in scoring position, tied for third with 33 multi-hit games, fourth with a .323 batting average overall, sixth with 104 hits and tied for sixth with a .383 on-base percentage. Since May 9th, Cano is batting .348 (65-for-187) with 31 runs scored, 14 doubles, five home runs and 32 RBI.

Rounding out the A.L. infield is Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is the A.L. starting squad’s lone first-time All-Star. Donaldson received 3,684,820 votes to give the A’s, who entered play today with the best record in the Majors at 54-33 (.621), their first fan-elected starter since first baseman Jason Giambi in 2000. Donaldson becomes the first Oakland third baseman in team history to earn a fan-elected start, and he is the fifth different A.L. third baseman to win a fan election in the last five years, joining Evan Longoria (2010), Rodriguez (2011), Adrian Beltre (2012) and Cabrera (2013). Entering Sunday, Donaldson was third in the A.L. with 58 runs scored, sixth with 62 RBI and is tied for sixth with 19 home runs.

Joining Tulowitzki on the left side of the N.L. infield is Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who garnered 2,318,611 votes to produce his third All-Star selection and first fan-elected starting assignment. Ramirez becomes the first Brewer to win a starting job at the hot corner, and he joins second basemen Don Money (1978), Hall of Famer Paul Molitor (1980, 1988) and teammate Rickie Weeks (2011), as well as Hall of Fame shortstop Robin Yount (1982-83) and first baseman Fielder (2007, 2011) as the only infielders in Brewers history to win an election. The 36-year-old native of the Dominican Republic entered Sunday batting .286 with 11 home runs and 41 RBI on the season. Among N.L. third basemen, he was tied for fourth in home runs and tied for fifth in RBI.

On the right side of the N.L. infield, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, now a two-time All-Star and fan-elected starter for the first time, joins veteran second baseman Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies, who makes his sixth trip to the Midsummer Classic, all of which have come via a fan election. Goldschmidt received 3,516,890 votes en route to becoming the first D-backs first baseman, and just the fourth player in franchise history, to earn a fan election. The other three to do so were second baseman Jay Bell (1999), third baseman Matt Williams (1999) and outfielder Luis Gonzalez (2001). Goldschmidt started play today leading the N.L. with 32 doubles and 48 extra-base hits, ranked second with 63 runs scored and 181 total bases, tied for second with 30 multi-hit games, third with 56 RBI and a .544 slugging percentage, tied for third with 50 walks, sixth with 102 hits and a .395 on-base percentage and tied for eighth with 15 home runs.

Utley, who won fan elections in each season from 2006-10, tallied 2,866,529 total votes. His six fan elections trail only Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (9) for the most in Phillies history. Te only other N.L. second basemen to draw more All-Star starts are Utley’s manager Ryne Sandberg (9) and fellow Hall of Famer Joe Morgan (7). Utley began play on Sunday batting .287 on the season with six home runs, 40 RBI, 24 doubles and 46 runs scored. Utley, who picked up his 1,500th career hit last Sunday against Atlanta, leads all N.L. second basemen in doubles and extra-base hits (33).

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina received 3,842,434 votes to secure his sixth All-Star selection along with his fourth career and second consecutive fan-elected start. He joins Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (12) and former teammate Albert Pujols (5) as the only players in Cardinals history to receive at least four fan-elected starting assignments. Molina has thrown out 17 of 34 runners attempting to steal this season for a N.L.-best .500 percentage. At the plate, the Puerto Rican native is batting .294 with seven home runs, 30 RBI, 15 doubles and 30 runs scored. With Molina’s election, the Cardinals have now had at least one player elected to start in each of the last six seasons (since 2009), marking the longest active streak in the N.L.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters and designated hitter Nelson Cruz round out the starting A.L. squad, giving Baltimore a trio of fan-elected starters (along with Jones) for the second consecutive season (Davis, J.J. Hardy and Jones in 2013). It marks the first time since 1997 (Alomar, Ripken and Brady Anderson) and 1998 (Alomar, Ripken) that the O’s have had multiple fan-elected starters in back-to-backs seasons. Wieters collected 2,701,310 votes en route to his third All-Star selection and first fan-elected starting assignment. He becomes just the second Orioles backstop in franchise history to win a fan election, joining Terry Kennedy (1987). Wieters, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in June, batted .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI over 26 games played. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by the A.L. catcher elected to the All-Star Team via the Player Ballot.

Cruz received 3,942,138 votes to secure his third All-Star selection and first career fan-elected starting assignment. He becomes just the fifth different fan-elected starter at designated hitter in history, joining Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003), Canseco (1999), Ortiz (2005, 2008, 2011-13) and Guerrero (2010). Cruz entered play today tied for first in the Majors with 27 home runs and 70 RBI. His 27 home runs are currently third in Orioles franchise history before the All-Star break, trailing teammate Davis (37 in 2013) and Anderson (30 in 1996). Cruz also ranks second in the A.L. with 191 total bases, and fifth with a .581 slugging percentage and 43 extra-base hits.

With seven different N.L. teams represented among its eight starters (only Milwaukee has two), this marks the eighth time since fan balloting began in 1970 that the N.L. has as many as seven different teams represented among the starting position players. The other years in which it occurred include 1971, 1984, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2010. The N.L. has never had eight different teams represented among the eight positional leaders. With four different teams represented in the A.L. infield, the 85th All-Star Game will mark the first time since 2003, and the 19th time overall since fan balloting began in 1970, that the four A.L. fan-elected starting infielders come from four different teams.

There are eight foreign-born players among the 17 fan-elected starters, marking the third consecutive season that at least eight foreign-born players received a fan election. Last year, eight foreign-born players also won fan elections after nine received the honor in 2012.

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots were distributed at the 30 Major League ballparks, each of which had 25 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 Minor League ballparks. After the in-stadium phase of balloting concluded on Thursday, June 26th, fans still had the opportunity to cast their votes for starters exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 3rd at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, was once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2014 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot featured an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events, and VIP on-field access to watch batting practice before the All-Star Game with an MLB legend.

The American League All-Star Team has nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the National League All-Star Team has eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – were determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – A.L. skipper John Farrell of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and N.L. manager Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Fans can now begin to vote to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over a five-day period and the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday, July 10th. Now in its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

The final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15th. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

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Former Oriole Reimold claimed off waivers by Blue Jays

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Nolan Reimold was claimed off outright waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday.

The claim ends a week of speculation about the outfielder’s future. The Baltimore Orioles had activated Reimold from the 60 day disabled list (back) earlier in the week and designated him for assignment. After failing to be able to trade him, the Birds placed Reimold on outright waivers Friday.

The Blue Jays will be on the hook for the remainder of his $1.025 million salary this season.

Reimold’s Baltimore tenure ends after his most recent trip to the DL came following spine fusion surgery in the spring. This surgery was the most recent in a line of health-related issues for the Bowling Green alum. After being sidelined by an oblique strain and achilles tendon fraying early in his career, Reimold’s most significant issues began in 2012. He previously had surgery for a herniated disc in June 2012 that shortened his season, he was forced to have corrective surgery just a year later to fix the previous procedure.

Since arriving in the big leagues in 2009, Reimold played in just 286 games (all with the Orioles). He hit .252/.327/.439 with 41 home runs and 126 RBI in the span.

The O’s appeared to view Reimold as expendable in part due to a glut of right handed hitting outfielder/designated hitter/first base types on the major league roster. Manager Buck Showalter has struggled to find regular playing time for hot hitting Delmon Young due to Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce’s outstanding success to start the season as well.

CRUZ RESPONDS: Speaking of Cruz, he responded to comments made about him Saturday night by Red Sox pitcher John Lackey when speaking to reporters pre-game Sunday.

After the left fielder went 5-5 and came just a triple short of the cycle Saturday night, Lackey said “I’m not even going to comment on him. I’ve got nothing to say about him. There’s things I would like to say, but I’m not going to.”

The starter was clearly referring to Cruz’s 50 game suspension in 2013 related to PED’s and his relationship with Biogenesis.

Cruz was asked about the comments by reporters Sunday, saying “people can say whatever they want. It’s part of being free. I don’t have any comments about that,” according to CSNBaltimore.com. “What I care about is my teammates and what they think about me.”

He added “everybody is free to talk. What I care about is what I’m doing here.”

Showalter also addressed the comments in his pre-game chat with reporters, saying “you consider sources of people and some of their emotions after the game, whether it be a player’s comment or a manager’s comment or some fan’s comment. You understand that nobody makes those comments after they pitched a complete game shutout or Nelson is 0-for-5. It’s human nature. We need to all make sure we check our own backyard before we start looking at someone else’s,” also according to CSNBaltimore.com.

NOTES: Showalter re-affirmed to reporters in Boston that Bud Norris (groin) came out of his simulated game Saturday well and is expected to start Tuesday or Wednesday against the Washington Nationals. The Baltimore Sun reported the team is leaning towards Tuesday to get him an extra start before the All-Star break…MLB.com reports Sunday starter Kevin Gausman is not guaranteed to make another start before the All-Star break, saying the Birds could send him back down to get another reliever before the final week of the first half of the season…Slumping first baseman Chris Davis did not start Sunday as Showalter decided to give him a day of rest. Davis came into the day with just two hits in his last 34 at-bats

 

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Lackey on Cruz: “There’s things I’d like to say, but I’m not going to”

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Left fielder Nelson Cruz had a huge night for the Baltimore Orioles Saturday against the Boston Red Sox, but one person in particular wasn’t all that interested in showering him with praise after the game.

“I’m not even going to comment on him”, Sox starter John Lackey told reporters after the game according to the Providence Journal. “I’ve got nothing to say about him. There’s things I would like to say, but I’m not going to.”

Lackey was almost certainly referring to the 50 game suspension Cruz received in 2013 related to PED’s and his association to Biogenesis.

Cruz was apparently not asked about Lackey’s comments after Saturday night’s game.

The former Texas Ranger had an incredible night, going 5-5 for the Birds in their 7-4 win in Game 2 of a doubleheader. Cruz had two doubles, getting thrown out at third base on the second trying to stretch the play into a triple that would have allowed him to hit for the cycle for the first time in his career.

Cruz’s home run Saturday was his 27th of the season, leaving him tied with Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox for the major league lead. He is expected to be announced as an All-Star starter at Designated Hitter for the American League when the teams are announced Sunday night.

Lackey was roughed up by the Birds, allowing five earned runs over just 5.1 innings pitched. Baltimore touched up the Sox starter for 10 hits and a walk in earning the doubleheader split.

NOTES: Teams have until 1pm Sunday to place a waiver claim on OF Nolan Reimold, who the Orioles designated for assignment earlier in the week after activating him from the 60 day disabled list…Reliever Preston Guilmet was returned to the AAA Norfolk Tides following Saturday night’s game. The Orioles had taken advantage of the MLB rule that allows teams to use a 26th man for the second game of a doubleheader in order to bring Guilmet up…Third baseman Manny Machado returned to the team Saturday night after serving a five game suspension. Machado went 2-5 with a double and a run scored in his return; the O’s were 4-1 in the five games without him…Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston that pitcher Bud Norris’ simulated game “went well” Saturday (the starter threw between games of the doubleheader) and he will start Tuesday or Wednesday for the Birds against the Washington Nationals after being activated from the 15 day DL…Kevin Gausman will be called up Sunday to start in the series finale, reliever Ramon Ramirez is considered the most likely candidate to be sent down to make room for the former first round pick on the 25 man roster

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Cruz maintains lead, Derek Norris closing on Wieters in AL All-Star voting

Posted on 22 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Cespedes, Norris vying to join A’s teammate Donaldson among American League leaders in latest balloting update for 85th All-Star Game

Jeter Holding Off Ramirez in Bid to Start His Final Midsummer Classic; Four Different Teams Represented Among Leading Infielders

 

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and catcher Derek Norris of the Oakland Athletics continue to climb the American League rankings in fan balloting for the 85th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota. The latest A.L. results were announced earlier this evening on ESPN as part of its “Baseball Tonight” telecast. The next National League balloting results will be announced at 7:30 p.m. (ET) tomorrow night after local rightsholder broadcasts announce the leaders.

Cespedes and Norris, two players who have filled pivotal roles in leading Oakland to the best record in the Majors at 47-28 (.627), are aiming to join their teammate Josh Donaldson among the A.L. leaders. The Athletics have not had a fan-elected starter since Jason Giambi earned a fan election at first base for the 2000 Midsummer Classic in Atlanta. In addition, Oakland has not featured multiple fan-elected starters since 1992, when first baseman Mark McGwire and outfielder Jose Canseco earned starting assignments. The Athletics have had at least three fan elections in a single season on five occasions since fan balloting began in 1970, including 1975 (Bert Campaneris, Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Gene Tenace); 1988 (Canseco, McGwire, Terry Steinbach); 1989 (Canseco, McGwire, Steinbach); 1990 (Canseco, McGwire, Rickey Henderson); and 1991 (Dave Henderson, R. Henderson, McGwire).

Cespedes has received 1,511,838 votes, which ranks fourth among A.L. outfielders behind leaders Jose Bautista (3,665,208) of the Toronto Blue Jays, Mike Trout (3,286,511) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Melky Cabrera (1,674,232) of the Blue Jays. Cespedes, who won the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field, is attempting to make his first All-Star Game. The Cuban native is batting .325 (25-for-77) in June and has seven home runs and 27 RBI over his last 32 games. Entering Sunday, he was tied for sixth in the A.L. with 36 extra-base hits and three triples, tied for eighth with 49 RBI, ranks 10th with a .509 slugging percentage and is tied for 10th with 19 doubles. In addition, the 28-year-old leads the Majors with nine outfield assists on the season, including eight over his last 23 games in the outfield. Three-time All-Star Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles remains close behind Cespedes in fifth with 1,490,000 votes, while Michael Brantley (1,284,901) of the Cleveland Indians, 2011 All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury (1,264,746) of the New York Yankees, Nick Markakis (1,170,304) of the Orioles and eight-time All-Star Carlos Beltran (1,081,686) of the Yankees are all within striking distance.

Norris, also bidding for his first All-Star appearance, surpassed Brian McCann (1,344,076) of the Yankees for second place among A.L. catchers. The 25-year-old backstop, in his third Major League season, trails Baltimore’s Matt Wieters (1,852,770) by less than 400,000 votes. Wieters, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery last week, batted .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI over 26 games played. Wieters, a two-time All-Star would join Terry Kennedy (1987) as the only catchers in Orioles history to earn a fan election, while Norris would join Steinbach (1987-88) as the only catchers in Athletics history to accomplish the feat. Norris, who is batting .342 (13-for-38) in June, entered play on Sunday tied for first among A.L. catchers on the season with eight home runs and 34 RBI, and ranks second with a .301 batting average. His 34 RBI have already matched his career-best set in 2012 and his eight home runs are one shy of his career-high of nine hit in 2013.

Donaldson, who has hit safely in six of his last seven games, is in line for his first All-Star selection. He has accumulated 2,436,771 votes to hold a comfortable lead over three-time All-Star Adrian Beltre (1,346,957) of the Texas Rangers. Donaldson, who finished fourth in A.L. Most Valuable Player voting in 2013, would become the first Oakland third baseman to earn a fan-elected start. He entered Sunday second in the A.L. with 55 runs scored, is tied for second with 15 go-ahead RBI, tied for fourth with 55 RBI, fifth with 18 home runs, tied for ninth with 142 total bases and tied for 10th with 31 extra-base hits.

Bautista, who remains the A.L.’s top vote-getter, is seeking his fifth All-Star selection and fourth consecutive fan election. The Dominican Republic native, who also led the Majors in fan balloting in 2011 (7,454,753), could become the 10th different A.L. outfielder in history to earn four consecutive fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Jackson (four from 1972-75 and five from 1980-84); Dave Winfield (six from 1983-88); Henderson (four from 1985-88); and Kirby Puckett (four from 1992-95); as well as Ken Griffey, Jr. (10 from 1990-99); Manny Ramirez (eight from 1999-2006); Vladimir Guerrero (four from 2004-07); Ichiro Suzuki (four from 2001-04 and five from 2006-10); and Josh Hamilton (five from 2008-12). Bautista would also become the second player in franchise history to earn four fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar (1991-94). Entering play today, Bautista has reached base safely in 71 of his 76 games played this season, and leads the A.L. with a .432 on-base percentage and 59 walks, ranks third with 54 runs scored, seventh with a .524 slugging percentage, tied for eighth with 49 RBI, tied for ninth with 142 total bases, 10th with a .303 batting average and tied for 10th with 15 home runs.

Trout, who has the league’s second-highest balloting total, has reached base safely in 37 of his last 39 games and has 33 RBI in his last 33 contests. Trout has played in 405 career games and is the first player in Major League history to record at least 300 runs scored, 75 home runs and 75 stolen bases in his first 400 career games played. The two-time All-Star, who was a fan-elected starter in 2013, is bidding to become the fifth player in Angels history to earn consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Rod Carew (1979-84) and Jackson (1982-84), as well as Fred Lynn (1982-83) and Guerrero (2004-07). At 21 years old last year, Trout became the youngest A.L. position player to start a Midsummer Classic since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993. Over his last 24 games, Trout is batting .393 batting average (35-for-89). On the season, he ranks fourth in the A.L. with a .595 slugging percentage and 157 total bases, seventh with 54 RBI and tied for seventh with 16 home runs.

Cabrera, who represented the N.L. at the 2012 Midsummer Classic in Kansas City, ranks second in the Majors with 94 hits on the season and he is tied for sixth in the A.L. with 26 multi-hit games. He is aiming to become the fourth different Blue Jays outfielder in history to receive a fan election, joining Bautista, Joe Carter (1993-94) and George Bell (1987). Along with Bautista, the teammates are trying to become the first pair of Blue Jays to start a Midsummer Classic since 1994, when Alomar and Carter were elected to start by the fans. In addition, they would become the first pair of teammates to start in the A.L. outfield since Boston’s Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in 2005, and it would mark the 17th All-Star Game in history to feature starting teammates in the A.L. outfield. Cabrera also ranks among A.L. leaders with five outfield assists (T-5th), 149 total bases (T-5th) and 47 runs scored (8th).

Thirteen-time American League All-Star Derek Jeter of the Yankees, bidding for his ninth career fan election, has totaled 2,353,336 votes to remain ahead of Alexei Ramirez (1,933,117) of the Chicago White Sox. Jeter, who is hitting .271 with 16 RBI and 24 runs scored in his final season, would become the seventh player in A.L. history to earn at least nine fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Griffey (10 with Seattle); teammate Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas). Over his last 11 games, Jeter is batting .356 (16-for-45) with three doubles, four RBI, seven runs scored and a .388 on-base percentage. Jeter, who ranks eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,385 hits, is one of three players in Major League history with at least 3,000 hits, 250 home runs and 350 stolen bases, along with Craig Biggio and Hall of Famer Henderson. Ramirez, who is attempting to become the first White Sox shortstop to make the All-Star Game since Ozzie Guillen in 1991, is tied for the A.L. lead with 26 multi-hit games, is tied for fifth with 84 hits and ranks eighth with a .311 batting average.

Forming a familiar tandem, Jeter is joined up the middle of the infield by second baseman and former teammate Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners. Cano, a five-time All-Star, who has been elected the starting second baseman in each of the last four years, has received 2,007,055 votes as he remains in front of three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler (1,338,272) of the Detroit Tigers and four-time All-Star Dustin Pedroia (1,264,329) of the Boston Red Sox. Over his last 31 games, Cano is batting .373 (44-for-118) with three home runs, 20 RBI, eight doubles and 19 runs scored. The stretch has propelled Cano to a .332 batting average, which ranks second in the A.L. on the season. With a fan election this year, he would become the third second baseman in A.L. history to earn five consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Carew (six straight, 1970-75) and Alomar (five straight, 1996-2000). In addition, Cano would join Bret Boone (2001) as the only fan-elected starting second basemen in Mariners history, and he could become just the fourth Seattle infielder to receive an election from the fans, joining Boone, John Olerud (1B, 2001) and Alex Rodriguez (SS, 1997-98; 2000). Cano is tied for second in the A.L. with 28 multi-hit games, ranks third with a .392 on-base percentage and is tied for third with 91 hits.

Joining Cano on the right side of the infield is Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has garnered 2,645,000 votes to remain ahead of White Sox rookie Jose Abreu (1,420,294). Cabrera, an eight-time All-Star, leads the A.L. with a .403 batting average with runners in scoring position and 26 doubles, while he is third with 58 RBI and 38 extra-base hits, tied for fifth with a .320 batting average and 149 total bases, and sixth with a .548 slugging percentage. The reigning two-time A.L. Most Valuable Player is seeking his second fan election after earning his first career fan-elected start in 2013 as a third baseman. He would become just the fifth player in Tigers history to earn multiple fan-elected starting assignments at the Midsummer Classic, joining catchers Bill Freehan (1970, 1972), Lance Parrish (1984-86), Rodriguez (2004, 2006-07) and second baseman Lou Whitaker (1984-86). In addition, the 2012 Triple Crown winner would join former teammate Prince Fielder as the only fan-elected starting first basemen in Tigers history.

Designated hitter Nelson Cruz, aiming for his first fan-elected starting assignment, has received 2,457,349 as he continues to hold off Boston’s David Ortiz (1,652,470), a nine-time All-Star who has earned each of the last three fan elections at designated hitter. Cruz, a two-time All-Star, is tied for first in the Majors with 23 home runs and ranks second with 60 RBI. He would become just the fifth different fan-elected starter at the position, joining Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003), Jose Canseco (1999), Ortiz (2005, 2008, 2011-13) and Guerrero (2010). Along with Wieters, who currently leads at catcher, the duo would give the Orioles multiple fan elections in consecutive years (Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones in 2013) for the first time since 1997 (Alomar, Ripken, Brady Anderson) and 1998 (Alomar, Ripken).

With four different teams currently represented in the A.L. infield, the 85th All-Star Game could mark the first time since 2003, and the 19th time overall since fan balloting began in 1970, that the four A.L. fan-elected starting infielders come from four different teams.

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. The last two years represent the two highest totals in balloting history, including a record 40.2 million ballots cast in 2012. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at MLB’s 30 ballparks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting.

In addition, fans around the world can cast their votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 Club web sites – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian. The All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian is available in English and Spanish, and offers audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually-impaired fans. Banco BHD sponsors online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language Web site of Major League Baseball.

Every Major League Club began its in-stadium balloting no later than May 12th. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes no later than June 26th, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 3rd at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2014 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events, and VIP on-field access to watch batting practice before the All-Star Game with an MLB legend.

For the sixth consecutive year, the ballot features the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans have the opportunity to select three players in each League who they would most like to see participate in the Gillette Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll is also available online at MLB.com. The 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET)/7:00 p.m. (CT) on Monday, July 14th. The 10 American League candidates are Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays; Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees; Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers; Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners; 2013 Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics; Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles; Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers; All-Star Ambassador Joe Mauer of the Twins; David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox; and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 10 National League candidates are Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds; Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves; Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants; Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins; Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies; and David Wright of the New York Mets.

The 2014 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5th-6th, with further details to follow. The A.L. All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the N.L. All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – N.L. skipper Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals and A.L. manager John Farrell of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

Immediately following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over the balloting period. Now in its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15th. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR VOTE LEADERS

FIRST BASE
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers — 2,645,000
Jose Abreu, White Sox — 1,420,294
Chris Davis, Orioles — 1,087,112
Albert Pujols, Angels — 1,040,316
Mark Teixeira, Yankees — 718,367

SECOND BASE
Robinson Cano, Mariners — 2,007,055
Ian Kinsler, Tigers — 1,338,272
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox — 1,264,329
Jose Altuve, Astros — 932,978
Brian Dozier, Twins — 841,980

SHORTSTOP
Derek Jeter, Yankees — 2,353,336
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox — 1,933,117
J.J. Hardy, Orioles — 1,259,268
Jose Reyes, Blue Jays — 871,633
Jed Lowrie, Athletics — 629,686

THIRD BASE
Josh Donaldson, Athletics — 2,436,771
Adrian Beltre, Rangers — 1,346,957
Manny Machado, Orioles — 1,182,098
Evan Longoria, Rays — 1,118,453
Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays — 758,043

CATCHER
Matt Wieters, Orioles — 1,852,770
Derek Norris, Athletics — 1,486,850
Brian McCann, Yankees — 1,344,076
Kurt Suzuki, Twins — 812,865
A.J. Pierzynski, Red Sox — 810,050

DESIGNATED HITTER
Nelson Cruz, Orioles — 2,457,349
David Ortiz, Red Sox — 1,652,470
Victor Martinez, Tigers — 1,418,509
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays — 1,276,851
Brandon Moss, Athletics — 796,159

OUTFIELD
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays — 3,665,208
Mike Trout, Angels — 3,286,511
Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays — 1,674,232
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics — 1,511,838
Adam Jones, Orioles — 1,490,000
Michael Brantley, Indians — 1,284,901
Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees — 1,264,746
Nick Markakis, Orioles — 1,170,304
Carlos Beltran, Yankees — 1,081,686
Torii Hunter, Tigers — 989,715
Coco Crisp, Athletics — 748,013
Alex Rios, Rangers — 742,780
Brett Gardner, Yankees — 737,736
Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers — 699,751
Josh Hamilton, Angels — 696,991

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