Tag Archive | "Nick Markakis"

Markakis out another week with small disc herniation

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Markakis out another week with small disc herniation

Posted on 12 March 2013 by WNST Staff

After undergoing an MRI on Monday, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis is suffering from a small disc herniation in his neck and will be sidelined for at least another week.

Manager Buck Showalter revealed the results with reporters in Sarasota on Tuesday morning, but the club remains optimistic that Markakis is not in danger of missing the start of the season. The injury reportedly has a recovery period of one to two weeks and the 29-year-old has already been sidelined for more than a week.

Markakis was seeing a specialist in Baltimore on Tuesday, but the Baltimore manager told reporters the outfielder is feeling better over the last day or two.

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Markakis to undergo MRI on neck Monday

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Markakis to undergo MRI on neck Monday

Posted on 10 March 2013 by Luke Jones

Continuing to deal with neck spasms that have sidelined him for a week, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis will undergo an MRI on Monday.

The 29-year-old was scratched from the lineup on March 3 and hasn’t played in a spring game since March 1 despite downplaying the significance of the spasms. Markakis had told reporters in Sarasota earlier in the week that he’d be able to play if it were the regular season, but the MRI is a precautionary move because the spasms have lingered for so long.

In four spring games, Markakis is 3-for-12 with three singles and one run batted in.

“I’m not going to downplay it; we’ll see,” manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Florida on Saturday. “When you get something that has kind of cropped up twice, information is a good thing. I haven’t been told anything to make me think there’s a sense of urgency with that. I asked Nick about it and he goes, ‘Whatever.’ We’ll see.”

The news of an MRI is concerning with Markakis coming off an injury-plagued season that limited him to 104 games. After the outfielder underwent abdominal surgery last winter, he missed six weeks with a broken hamate bone in his right wrist in the first half and saw his season come to an end in early September when a CC Sabathia fastball broke Markakis’ left thumb.

It was the first time since his rookie season in 2006 in which Markakis failed to appear in at least 157 games.

In 471 plate appearances in 2012, Markakis hit .298 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI while posting an .834 OPS, his highest mark since the 2008 season.

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Snapshot observations from Orioles’ spring win over Yankees

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Snapshot observations from Orioles’ spring win over Yankees

Posted on 25 February 2013 by Luke Jones

In their first spring meeting with the New York Yankees, the Orioles didn’t exactly face the 1927 Bronx Bombers in a 5-1 win in Sarasota on Monday afternoon.

New York right-hander Vidal Nuno made the start while Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix, Juan Rivera, and Francisco Cervelli were the most recognizable names in the Yankees’ batting order against left-hander Brian Matusz. The Orioles starter pitched two shutout innings to collect the victory while primarily using his fastball against an underwhelming lineup of hitters.

It’s only a snapshot, but here were five thoughts taken away from the Orioles’ first televised spring training contest:

1. You want to knock on wood when you say it — or pinch yourself because you assume you’re dreaming — but healthy versions of Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold at the top of the order would do wonders for this offense. Roberts was the more impressive of the two Monday as he doubled from each side of the plate while hitting in the No. 2 spot in the order behind Reimold. The second baseman is also no longer wearing the double-flapped batting helmet he sported last season, another indication that his concussion-related symptoms might be behind him once and for all. Reimold was 0-for-2 against the Yankees after going 0-for-3 in his spring debut on Sunday, but he continues to build strength and confidence after being declared ready to go at the start of the spring.

Manager Buck Showalter has stated his preference to lower J.J. Hardy in the order after the shortstop was miscast as a top-of-the-lineup hitter in his first two seasons with the Orioles, and Roberts’ .351 career on-base percentage and Reimold’s .338 mark would fit nicely at the top of the lineup as long as you continue to see no health concerns for either player this spring. It would be a welcome change for a lineup that included low on-base percentage options such as Hardy and the departed Robert Andino at the top of the order before Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth moved into those roles out of necessity in the second half of last season.

It feels like a long shot to be able to count on a 35-year-old Roberts — who is trying to bounce back from season-ending hip surgery as well as offseason sports hernia surgery — after three injury-plagued seasons in a row, but the 29-year-old Reimold could still have plenty of good baseball in front of him if he can finally stay on the field.

2. The case of right-hander Tommy Hunter will be one to follow this spring as he is out of options. Hunter allowed two hits and struck out two in a scoreless inning of work on Monday, and it appears the 26-year-old will be eyed as a relief option this spring.

Hunter has made 75 career starts in the big leagues between Texas and Baltimore, but his stuff has never screamed starting pitcher as he’s averaged only 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and has a career 4.77 earned run average. In 12 2/3 innings pitched out of the bullpen last September, Hunter allowed one earned run and struck out 12 and featured fastball velocity in the upper 90s.

This becomes more interesting when considering Hunter would need to clear waivers to be sent to Triple-A Norfolk at the end of the spring. Other fringe starters such as Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, and Steve Johnson all have at least one option remaining, making it possible that Hunter could be viewed in a more favorable light in starting the season as the long reliever out of the bullpen while at least some of the others could find themselves pitching with the Tides to start the year.

Showalter has said the club won’t make roster decisions based on option years, but it would appear Hunter would have the inside track on a bullpen role if he has a reasonably strong spring. On the other hand, a poor performance from the right-hander would also mean he’s more likely to pass through waivers unclaimed.

3. If you’re looking for this year’s version of Lew Ford or Steve Pearce, keep an eye on Russ Canzler. The 26-year-old is capable of playing first base and the corner outfield spots and hit 61 combined home runs in his last three minor-league seasons split between Double A and Triple A.

It was a crazy offseason for Canzler, who was selected off waivers four different times with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette finally nabbing him from the Yankees on Feb. 5. The right-handed hitter drove in a run with a single in Monday’s 5-1 win and was strongly endorsed by Norfolk manager Ron Johnson prior to the Orioles acquiring him this winter.

It would be an upset to see Canzler break camp as a member of the 25-man roster — he also has two option years remaining — but his .819 on-base plus slugging percentage over nine minor-league seasons is the type of statistic that intrigues Duquette when searching for bargain-basement deals. Canzler was selected in the 30th round of the 2004 draft as an 18-year-old by the Chicago Cubs and spent seven years in that organization before spending a season each with Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

It’s a long shot, of course, that we’ll see Canzler making any tangible contribution to the 2013 Orioles, but no one expected Ford or Pearce to contribute to the Orioles’ first playoff team in 15 years at the start of the season, either.

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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walk off 04-29

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Orioles Best Season Since……..Why Not

Posted on 01 January 2013 by Tom Federline

It’s that time of year again. Time for reflection. Time for regrouping. Time to start out the New Year on a positive. SO…….. how ’bout ‘dem 2012 O’s hun? It only took 22 years for this O’s fan to get that “old school – down to the bone chilling – orange and black – Orioles Magic,” feeling back into my soul. And it felt good. The town was energized, young Oriole fans finally experienced a Baltimore Orioles summer, many Oriole fans cleared off the cobwebs and  the hard core Oriole fans were revived. It had ”Been Such a Longtime” – Boston. That was a nice touch by the way, from the Camden Yards Audio/visual folks, playing that song at the park at the end of the season.

1989 – the “Why Not” – year. 2012 – the “We’re Not Giving Up” year. Early season perception of those two years: 1989 – the Orioles seemingly on a downward spiral, especially after the 0 – 21 start and 54-107 1988 season. 2012 – the Orioles below .500 since 1997 and ranked 28th out of 30 teams in the Power rankings. So naturally, what has become an annual tradition, I went out and bought an Orioles gaming ticket for them to win the World Series, this year at 125 to 1. Sadly, couldn’t cash in. Happy, probably won’t see those odds again anytime soon.

Remember1989? Frank Robinson was manager. Rex Barney at…………..Memorial Stadium! HTS with Mel Proctor and John Lowenstein (my favorite Orioles TV team) and Jon Miller/Joe Angel on the radio. Besides Brady and Cal, how about names like Randy Milligan, Joe Orsulak, Jim Traber, Bob Milacki, Kevin Hickey, Gregg ‘the otter” Olson? Come on, hit me up with some more. Dig deep into the memory bank. This year was that same kind of year. Some big names with (at times) an unfamiliar supporting cast,  ”stepping up to the plate”, becoming a team and surprising everyone!

Yes, there was 1996 and 1997 – but come on O’s fans – give credit where credit is due – Angelos did actually go out and try and buy it. The talent was retained with high price tags. They were expected to win. They were expected to participate with the 75% of the players that were “juicy juiced enhanced” at the time (whoops that last one slipped). It had been 12 years and no World Series appearance. Management made a move. Those two years came and went. Now, it has been 29 years since a World Series appearance. But this time, it is a more welcomed, different approach.

Since it is the New Year and I would like to stay as positive as long as I can (which means until the harsh reality of work tomorrow), let me offer my top 5 moments/games of this past season:

5. Opening Day – Friday 4/6/12, win 4-2 over the Twins. It was Opening Day, need I say more?  The Cartoon Bird was back! It was the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards and the place is still immaculate. Partly due to annual renovations at the stadium, this year in particular – new lower concourse floor, lower field wall in right, Batters Eye Pub in centerfield, the soon to be (at the time) Monument Plaza out in left, etc. Then there was the Opening Day Ceremony pageantry, then the game, then……… Nick Markakis (Future Hall of Famer) – smacking a home run in his first at-bat, on his first swing, after coming back from injury. Play Ball!

4. Sunday 4/29/12, win bottom of the ninth, 5-2 over the Oakland A’s at the Yard. O’s trailing the whole game, went into the ninth down 2-0, Bartolo Colon going for complete game. Weiters a 2-run double and then Wilson Betemit crushed a walk-off 3-run homer. They had won 6 out of 7 and you could feel the tide-a-changing. Little did we know, that game was just a glimpse of what was to come the rest of the year.

3. Saturday 7/14/12, Jim Palmer Statue day at the Yard, win in extra innings (13), 8-6 over the Tigers. Taylor Teagarden. Say it again, Taylor Teagarden – just a cool name – hit a game winning 3-run homer. This was AFTER the Birds had squandered a 4-1 lead in the 9th – the Tigers tied it. The Tigers then went ahead in the 11th – the O’s tied it in the bottom. Then the Tigers went ahead again in the 13th – only to have Taylor Teagarden end it in the bottom. Another game to be added to  “Classics of the Year”. 

2. Friday 10/5/12, Wild Card play-in game, win 5-1 at Texas Rangers. Joe Saunders, Joe who? The chosen starting pitcher to potentially springboard the Orioles beyond that playoff albatross that has been looming since 1997. He was 0-6 at Texas stadium with like a 10.00 era – then BOOM – Dan Duquette/the Buck “stops here” Showalter – make another Classic move. O’s move on to play the Evil Empire.

1. Sunday 5/6/12, the Marathon (17 innings, 6 hours +), the “where were you when….” game, WIN 9-6 at Fenway! If I remember correctly, something about Chris Davis pitching and getting the win? No game recap here, just watch it on Orioles Classics (MASN). Here’s a little salt to pour in the wound for the Red Sox fans though, that game completed a weekend SWEEP! 

“O” what a year. One heckuva roller coaster ride. The cool thing though………..meaningful baseball was back in Baltimore. They simply just never gave up. The future looks bright. I would advise on purchasing some Oriole shades. Who knows what lies ahead? Optimism for once, exists. I remember ’89, I have the VHS tape. I will always remember 2012, I will purchase the DVD.  Orioles Magic – Summer of 2013. I’m feeling warm already. Happy New Year.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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McLouth appreciative of opportunity and fans in ALDS run

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McLouth appreciative of opportunity and fans in ALDS run

Posted on 18 October 2012 by Ryan Chell

Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth would have never imagined having people telling him “Thank You” at the end of the 2012 season after manager Buck Showalter and GM Dan Duquette gave the 30-year old cast-off another opportunity at the big leagues.

But it turns out, McLouth happened to be one of the reasons why the Baltimore Orioles were able to end their stretch of 15 consecutive losing seasons and a lack of baseball being played in October, and he saw that appreciation come his way in masses.

McLouth, who was signed by the Orioles to a minor league deal on June 5th and eventually found his way to the big league club on August 3rd, jumped right in to the Baltimore lineup and played at a high level and provided a spark for manager Buck Showalter in the stretch run of the regular season.

In 55 games in the regular season, McLouth hit .268 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. He had a .342 OBP and his slugging percentage reached .435.

Those were numbers that McLouth had not really seen consistently since 2008 when he made the All-Star team as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

That presence was even more important after right fielder and leadoff man Nick Markakis broke his wrist in early September from a CC Sabathia pitch, and McLouth-who had already been written off by his two previous teams in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, was called upon by Showalter to stabilize the offense.

McLouth not only proved the doubters wrong, but was the Orioles hottest bat in their ALDS set with the New York Yankees and admitted to Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Monday the weekend after their playoff run ended-that he had a lot of fun along the way.

“That’s what you play for,” McLouth said. ”It was as fun of time as you can have playing baseball.   I know a lot of people-probably everybody-didn’t expect this team to be where we were coming down there in September.  That may have made it even more fun.  But once we got there, we expected to be there.  It was exciting; it was a lot of fun.”

McLouth had two RBIs in the Orioles 5-1 Wild Card win over the Texas Rangers, and in the ALDS against the New York Yankees, he went hit .318 with one home run and 3 RBIs from the leadoff spot.

It was just a continued sense of added confidence for McLouth to be playing at that high of a level again on that big of a stage.

“I knew that I still had some good baseball left in me, and I still do.  It was so nice to have that opportunity, and to be able to take advantage of it.”

McLouth said that the whole process was made much easier when his manager, Buck Showalter, trusted in his skills as gave him the green light to go out and make plays on his own.

“Buck let me do my thing on the bases, in the outfield, at the plate, it was great. After struggling for a couple years it was really, really difficult, but it was like a breath of fresh air.  I couldn’t have had a better time.”

Unfortunately, McLouth-who had playoff experience with the Braves in 2010 NLDS-had no control over the rest of his teammates’ bats going cold against the Yankees, and the season sadly came to an end.

But as McLouth can attest to-the game of baseball can be a roller coaster ride sometimes.

“In that series at Camden Yards in September, we swung the bats pretty well, facing a lot of the same pitchers,” McLouth said. “Unfortunately, that’s how baseball works sometimes. That also goes to show you how hard baseball is…they got a couple more hits than we did.”

McLouth said losing last Friday night stinks and that bad taste in his mouth still lingers, but ultimately he knows both he and his teammates will be able to look at it from a much broader perspective.

“I don’t think it has still hasn’t hit yet, but I think it will. I don’t care if you’re expected to be there or not, it stinks losing,” McLouth told Clark. “I’m sure once the sting wears off a little bit here, we will be able to be happy about what we accomplished this year.”

And ultimately, McLouth said he’s going to use days like Friday and Saturday to better motivate himself toward doing more in 2013 next season for the Baltimore Orioles should he be given that opportunity.

It’s something he hasn’t felt in quite some time.

“Usually the last day of the season, if you’re not going to the playoffs, it’s one of the best days of the year,” McLouth admitted. You know you have some time off coming ahead of you- some time to rest.”

“But after losing on Friday, it was an awful feeling, it was empty, and it was terrible. I think all of us wanted to keep going, and that’s going to drive me personally in the offseason going into next season.”

But that’s a situation that is again out of McLouth’s control.

The 30-year old McLouth had signed a one year, 1.75 million dollar contract to play this season for the Orioles, and with the healthy returns of outfielders Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis, you have to wonder if there is a spot and at-bats for McLouth on this roster.

McLouth said he will focus on coming back strong in 2013, and hopes that it’s back in Orange and Black because Charm City really grew on him.

“I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Baltimore- everything about it,” McLouth said with a little emotion. “The people in that organization are awesome, I love my teammates. I like living in there in Baltimore-living down in the Harbor area. I really enjoyed playing here and I would enjoy to be back.”

McLouth said that seeing Oriole Park in Camden Yards filled to the brink in August, September, and October was one of the most exciting things he’s experienced in his lifetime, and he said the fans deserved what they did more than ever.

“I played in Baltimore I think twice as a visiting player, once with Pittsburgh, once with Atlanta, I think in ’08 and ’09. It was obviously a beautiful stadium but didn’t have much of excitement, which is normal for a team that hasn’t won in a long time. To see the way that stadium coming down the stretch in September, but especially those two playoff games was incredible.”

“As the playoffs were more of a real possibility and a likely possibility, you could feel that building every series and even every game really. I am so happy the fans got to experience that, to get a taste of that.”

And as much as McLouth has said thank you to Peter Angelos, Dan Duquette, and Buck Showalter over the last several months for giving him another shot at being a big league ball player, the last several weeks he has received as many words of appreciation from the thousands of Orioles fans who paid to see him rebound.

“When we got back on Friday night after we lost, I think there was 500-600 fans in that parking lot waiting for us. I think the most common thing I heard, even walking around Baltimore, was ‘Thank You,’ thank you for bringing baseball back to Baltimore and giving us some excitement.”

“Those first two playoff games, it was like they let out 15 years of frustration. You could just feel it, it was insane; it was the atmosphere and those are two games I’ll never forget.”

WNST thanks Nate McLouth for joining us! To hear the entire interview, check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net!

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Ray-Ray 10-13-12

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Season(s) Silenced

Posted on 16 October 2012 by Tom Federline

SO, you may ask yourself – How did I get here? Or you may ask yourself – what teams season is he talking about? Or you may find yourself – in a state of limbo? In the matter of one weekend – the Orioles season/playoff run was halted and the Ravens season/playoff run is looking dim. The Orioles bats were silenced and the Ravens “Defense” chant was silenced. Markakis was silenced with a season ending injury. Ray-Ray is silenced with a season ending injury. What the heck is going on Baltimore? Orioles Magic, Ravens Hopes – On such a high – then silenced. It has “Been Such a Longtime” – (Boston), since Baltimore has had TWO winning teams – we forgot what it felt like. At least I did – until the O’s beat Texas!

I’m not kidding you, that Friday evening when the O’s clinched, I felt a warm a summer breeze and I was inside. I got a warm feeling that I hadn’t felt since 1983. The Orioles won and they won with what I thought had been lost -  passion for the game. The O’s had it and the A’s had it. Unfortunately they are both out and the money teams win.  ’96 and ’97 was nice – but they bought it. In ’83 – they wanted it, like they did like this year. Some stars mixed in with some guys just stepping up. I could write a book about this season and more Os’ blogs will follow, SO - let’s stick with the present. 

Orioles bats silenced. Nate McClouth – bless you. 1 out of 15 bats is not going to advance you to the next round of the playoffs. I was and still am tired of hearing – “Oh, it was such a well pitched series.” Oh, it was so exciting.” “Oh, they were in every game.” “Oh, the Yankees were not hitting either.” WRONG – you are paid to put the bat on the ball. Not nine guys fanning the stands, not two games of cooled off bats, not FIVE games of no hitting, not in the playoffs. Did they run out of juice? Come on Brady – we know you have connections. The O’s bats were certainly not being used to hit the ball, they might as well have just used them as spears…………….wait-a-minute………….

Luckily, Joba “the hut” Chamberlain was not speared, but the Weiters flying bat head did accidently take him out of the game.

The Ravens defense needs help. With Webb out, Ray-Ray out and Ngatas knee on the brink – there needs to be some serious gut checking in that locker room. I was at the game Sunday – there were moments of raucous cheers - but for the most part – silence,, Fans were just in awe of watching the Ravens defense get torched. DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE…… where? Ray-Ray retiring? Ray Lewis not on the field for the Ravens (as a player)? You see – what did you just do? There was a silent pause there, wasn’t it?

This guy will be missed and not just by Baltimore.

Last week with the O’s was rough. Now this week, with the news of one the greatest football players in our lifetime possibly calling it a career, just got a little rougher. I can tell you one thing – Camden Yards that infamous Sunday evening after the 2 hour and 40 minute rain delay was by NO means – silent. Put aside the weather and outcome of the game – it was a pleasure to experience Baltimore baseball the way it used to be - at Memorial Stadium. Oriole baseball fans at their best. All we needed was hope. Thank you Buck-Buck. Thank you O’s. The countdown towards Spring training has begun.

Baltimore fans – are silenced – for the time being. Adjustments have to be made. Get used to not seeing one of the greatest linebackers and respected  motivational leaders of all-time on the field. The Ravens have an offense (minus a coordinator) and a mediocre defense. The Orioles are contenders. The O’s lost focus at the wrong time this year – they will be back. Clear out a drawer and a portion of the closet for Orange attire. And as for the winter – I would advise buying some Terp basketball gear – mens and womens. Me thinks Ms. Frese and that’s Turgeon with a capitol “T”, have it going on in College Park.

Baltimore sports fans will not be silenced long. The O’s run was special – it was one heckuva late summer. The Ravens – let’s just say need a boast. The Terps BBall – I have to say it – Buckle Up. We are a good sports town – we deserve a winning atmosphere.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

 

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NM swing 6-5-07

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Orioles Riding the Wave

Posted on 24 September 2012 by Tom Federline

Besides an Opening Day, when was the last time you were at Camden Yards and watched a full “wave” circle the bowl without a break in it? Been to the Yard lately? Get in on the wave! These Birds just don’t give up. It’s coming to the end of September -  AND THEY ARE STILL IN IT! I know you all are with me – how many times have you been shaking your head saying, “They did it again.” Defense, timely hitting, pitching and that bullpen – “The Orange Curtain.” The wave has gained momentum in Baltimore and it is picking up speed. It only has been 15 years……….When you look at your kids, 15 years seems like yesterday, when you think of Orioles in the playoffs, it seems as if it were in another millennium. Wait a minute, it was.

I was at the game when CC (I should be starring in a Biggest Loser episode) Sabathia, took out one of the main cogs in the wheel. When Markakis went down, I figured “and so do the Birds.” Well surprise, surprise, surprise – (Come on what TV show is that from?) I had made a remark, if Markakis, Jones or Weiters goes down, the season is more than likely over. Well one of them did and it ain’t over. They have pulled together and refuse to lose. Serious passion displayed in the dugout that night when Nick came back up with hand in temporary cast and met with Buck-Buck. Binos were around neck and ready. My first thought – “not good”, second thought – not that I have been know to curse or anything – CC Sabathia ears had to be on fire. It is tough experiencing this run without the best right fielder in baseball and this swing:

 

Can’t even imagine how tough it is on him.

Hold the phone – This is just seriously down and out cool – Birds just won the first game of the doubleheader at the Yards vs. the Blow Jays, 4-1. JJ mows down the opposition………….again. “Put another one in the WIN column” – thank you Joe Angel. There was an eruption from my television set – I thought maybe it was the announcement that Gary Thorne would not be doing the second game either – but actually the Yard had filled up on a late Monday afternoon and was cheering their surging team to victory. Get to the Yard, do not pass go, do not collect $200, take the get out of jail for free card (for safety reasons) and Get to the Yard.

The 16 in-a-row extra inning win streak, is second to the 1949 Cleveland Indians (17), who holds the record. That is quite a remarkable accomplishment. It is a major part of what defines the team. Adam Jones, the entire bullpen and Taylor Teagarden. Teagarden has 7 hits in 50 at-bats and it seems every one of them has been a game changer and/or knocked in a run. Taylor Teagarden – what a name - stay with me here -  Who now claims the second most colorful name in Orioles History?

Music to my ears. Friday night – Peter Gabriel. Sunday afternoon – an exuberant “O” during the national anthem at ……FedEx Field Skins game (I was a guest). And the topper late Saturday afternoon, 12th inning, O’s 9 Red Sux 6 and the 500+ Oriole faithful drowning out the Red Sux fans with “Let’s Go O’s” at Fenway Park! I put the game on through the stereo and cranked it up. I really don’t know what was better – the chant or the Red Sux fans reaction?

Get on your boogie, surf, wake board or body surf. Just whatever you do, catch this O’s Wave and hang on. The wave may die out, but trust me it is better to catch the wave, than watching a good one go by. Buckle up –  It’s going to be quite a week. “Don’t Give Up” O’s - (Peter Gabriel). You have fans! Yes, they are coming out of the woodwork, but who cares, they are coming. Orange is a Fall color. It’s just been awhile since we have really appreciated it.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Reshuffling The Orioles Deck

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Reshuffling The Orioles Deck

Posted on 11 September 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

When the Orioles and Yankees got together for their 4-game set over the weekend the biggest winner of all might have been the Tampa Bay Rays. After biding their time without Evan Longoria and suffering through their typical case of mid-season offensive anemia the Rays still find themselves in the thick of the AL East race, close to full strength if David Price is ready to return this week as speculated, and ready now to pounce on the Yankees and Orioles who both suffered significant (injury) losses over the weekend while splitting a 4-game series. Meanwhile the Rays took 2 of 3 from the Rangers and prepare to descend on Camden Yards for a 3-game set beginning on Tuesday.

Whatever hopes the Orioles had for the playoffs took a big step backward with the loss of their most credible and consistent hitter and improbable table setter in Nick Markakis. How the Orioles respond now is anyone’s guess, but maybe the loss of Markakis isn’t quite as devastating as it would appear on the surface. While the O’s are much (much, much) better with Markakis than without, the improbable season of Chris Davis continues (and now in a much bigger way it would seem) in Markakis’ stead. Also the Orioles have been unable, since promoting Manny Machado to the big league club, to find an adequate way to take advantage of Wilson Betemit’s abilities against right handed pitching due to his lack of ability in the field and the compelling desire to keep Chris Davis in the lineup.

 

The stacking of the lineup has been the subject of a lot of debate amongst Orioles fans all season, and as clearly the team needs a new answer in the lead-off spot; here’s how I’d stack things going forward:

 

VS. Left Handers

1. SS – JJ Hardy (R) 285/351/453

2. LF – Nate McLouth (L) 210/355/379

3. CF – Adam Jones (R) 296/329/481

4. C  – Matt Wieters (R) 313/388/487

5. 1B – Mark Reynolds (R) 237/368/412

6. DH – Chris Davis (L) 256/287/433

7. 3B – Manny Machado (R) 250/280/542

8. 2B – Robert Andino (R) 210/291/305

9. RF – Lew Ford (R) 365/324/588

 

 

VS. Right Handers

1. LF – Nate McLouth (L) 259/337/444

2. 1B – Mark Reynolds (R) 232/346/487

3. DH – Wilson Betemit (L) 304/360/506

4. CF – Adam Jones (R) 285/336/525

5. RF – Chris Davis (L) 257/316/466

6. 3B – Manny Machado (R) 291/296/494

7. C  – Matt Wieters (L) 213/294/391

8. SS – JJ Hardy (R) 217/256/370

9. 2B – Robert Andino (R) 221/285/320

 

 

 

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Surgery could have Markakis back in four weeks

Posted on 10 September 2012 by Luke Jones

Injured right fielder Nick Markakis told reporters Sunday he will undergo surgery on his broken left thumb that could speed up his recovery time in hopes of return for the postseason.

On Saturday, manager Buck Showalter spoke about surgery as a definitive season-ending possibility for the Orioles’ leadoff hitter, but the doctor who performed the procedure on Markakis’ right wrist in June took a look at the CT scan and X-rays and determined surgery might actually speed up the initial estimate of a six-week recovery period. Markakis told reporters the procedure would involve the insertion of a T-plate in the top of the thumb and could trim three weeks off the recovery time.

The surgery will be performed by Dr. Brian Schofield, the same surgeon who removed Markakis’ broken hamate bone in his right wrist in early June.

Showalter ruled out any possibility of Markakis returning for the end of the regular season, saying the Orioles would need to make a significant run in the postseason for the right fielder to have any chance at playing again this year.

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Orioles will get by without Markakis, but can they be better than that?

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Orioles will get by without Markakis, but can they be better than that?

Posted on 09 September 2012 by Luke Jones

To say the Orioles can’t overcome the loss of Nick Markakis to make the playoffs for the first time in 15 years would discredit everything they’ve accomplished in an amazing season.

Being tied for first place in the American League East with only 23 games remaining is an enviable position to hold, regardless of any injury or loss a team could possibly experience.

Yes, the Orioles will get by without their starting right fielder and leadoff hitter — who will miss the rest of the regular season and only has a slim chance of returning late in the postseason should the Orioles reach that point — but whether they can do better than that is the critical question. And they’ll need to if they want to win their first division title since 1997 or at least secure one of the league’s two wild-card spots.

“We’ve been a sum of the parts team all year,” manager Buck Showalter said following the game, “and we certainly lost a big part [Saturday night].”

There’s no downplaying how important Markakis has been to a second half in which the Orioles have gone 33-21 since the 28-year-old returned from hamate bone surgery that forced him to miss six weeks in June and early July. Finally providing the club with its first productive leadoff hitter in two years, Markakis had been the club’s most valuable player in the second half as he hit .335 with five home runs, 15 doubles, 28 runs batted in, and a .387 on-base percentage since returning to action on July 13.

Showalter turned to Markakis to handle the top spot in the order because he had no other options, and the Orioles are faced with the same dilemma for the final few weeks of the season. The club will likely turn to left fielder Nate McLouth to assume the No. 1 spot. The journeyman has surprisingly hit .273 with a .341 on-base percentage in 32 games since having his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk, but expected him to continue that production — especially in the top spot of the order — is a lot to ask.

Though the lineup was far from ideal even with Markakis, having his bat in the leadoff spot brought more stability as there wasn’t a black hole at the top.

After finding a way to fill in the cracks with McLouth in left and the combination of Robert Andino, Omar Quintanilla, and Ryan Flaherty at second base, the Orioles will now need to patch another in right field. But it’s what they’ve done throughout the season, and Showalter won’t shy away from thinking outside the box to maximize production.

The Orioles’ best option in right would be to go with a platoon of Chris Davis and Lew Ford. Serving primarily as the designated hitter since Jim Thome went on the disabled list, Davis played respectably in the outfield earlier this season and has hit left-handers (.256 with four home runs in 90 at-bats) nearly as well as right-handers (.257 with 20 home runs in 343 at-bats) this season despite sitting against southpaws more regularly in the second half.

The Orioles could then use Wilson Betemit as the designated hitter against right-handed starters — he’s batted .304 against right-handed pitching this season — and move Davis back to the DH spot with Ford playing right field in games against left-handed starters. Betemit is hitting .143 against left-handers and shouldn’t be considered as a full-time DH.

The defense clearly won’t be as strong without Markakis in right, but the offensive production could remain at a tolerable level with Davis’ bat in the lineup every day and Betemit getting regular at-bats against right-handed pitchers. The return of Thome would provide another option at the DH spot against right-handed pitching, but it’s premature to assume the 42-year-old returns to action and can be productive at this point.

It’s not ideal, but very little has been that way this season and the Orioles still find themselves 17 games over .500 in the second week of September.

Lineup decisions and defensive alignment aside, how will the Orioles respond emotionally to losing one of their best players?

Markakis is well-respected in the clubhouse and you have to feel for him missing out on the first pennant race of his career after enduring six miserable seasons to begin his career in Baltimore. The right fielder missed only 25 games in his first six seasons combined but has endured abdominal surgery, hamate bone surgery, and a broken thumb in this calendar year.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for a team trying to do what no one believed they could entering the season.

“It sucks, what do you want me to say?” center Adam Jones said. “It’s September and one of our best players is down for the the rest of the year. It sucks. What can we do about that? Me [whining] and complaining is not going to heal his hand tomorrow. We have to rally around him. People have injuries late in the year. It’s extremely unfortunate, but it’s how things happen sometimes.”

The disappointment was evident following the game and understandably so.

In a season that can’t be explained statistically, perhaps Showalter’s finest accomplishment has been the ability to get players to buy into the concept of compartmentalizing a 162-game schedule. One of the most tired cliches of the sports world is to “take it one game at a time,” but the Orioles have exhibited just that throughout the season.

They’re never too high after wins and never too down after defeats, and it’s that mindset they must exercise in continuing to play at a high level despite the loss of Markakis.

It starts Sunday with a chance to take three out of four from the Yankees and move into sole possession of first place as the mediocre Freddy Garcia — complete with his 5.09 earned run average — takes the hill for New York.

The loss of Markakis won’t cripple the Orioles. Their record was 16-19 without him earlier this season.

They’ll fill in the cracks in right field just like they’ve done to get by at second base and left field.

But “just getting by” won’t land them in the postseason.

The Orioles will have to be better than that and losing such an important piece to their puzzle of success hurts those chances.

 

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