Tag Archive | "Orioles"

Orioles’ ability to overcome adversity begins with starters

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Orioles’ ability to overcome adversity begins with starters

Posted on 14 September 2014 by Luke Jones

With Friday’s surprising news of Chris Davis being suspended 25 games for amphetamine use, the same question that’s been tossed the Orioles’ way all season was uttered once again.

How can they overcome this?

Despite an 88-60 record entering Sunday that had them days away from the American League East championship, the Orioles have faced anything but a problem-free campaign in 2014.

All-Star players Matt Wieters and Manny Machado have suffered season-ending injuries. Top free-agent acquisition Ubaldo Jimenez has not only failed to meet expectations, but has been banished to the last spot in the bullpen and is very likely to be left off the postseason roster. And even before Davis’ suspension that now bans him until at least the AL Championship Series — if the Orioles advance that far — the slugger was hitting only .196 a year after hitting a franchise-record and league-leading 53 home runs.

“The game usually gives you back kind of what you put into it,” said manager Buck Showalter after the Orioles’ doubleheader sweep of the New York Yankees on Friday. “Everybody’s putting something into it.”

The narratives of resiliency and a different hero every night have frequently rung true, but they don’t paint the entire picture of how the Orioles have managed to all but run away with their first division title since 1997. We knew the Orioles would hit home runs and play exceptional defense entering the season, and those skills have certainly been there all year.

But the biggest question would be the pitching, particularly in the rotation. Even with the struggles of their $50 million addition in Jimenez, the starting pitching has not only silenced the doubts, but has been a strength since the first two months of the season. Through the end of May, the starting rotation had posted an underwhelming 4.49 ERA as the Orioles were 27-27. Since June 1, starters have pitched to an impeccable 3.20 mark, which would be tops in the AL if extrapolated over the entire season. The Orioles have gone 61-33 over that period of time, a .649 winning percentage.

Even with the unevenness of April and May included, Baltimore ranks sixth in the AL in starter ERA, which nearly any fan would have gladly taken at the start of the season. The current team ERA of 3.50 would be the Orioles’ lowest in a full season since 1979 when the AL champions posted a 3.26 ERA.

When being compared to the other top clubs around baseball, the Orioles are often sold short for lacking a true ace, but that hasn’t stopped the starting rotation from becoming the strong heartbeat of a club nearly 30 games above .500 in mid-September. All five members of the current rotation sport an ERA of 3.74 or better, making Showalter’s job a difficult one when deciding which four will make the postseason rotation.

Not only has the quintet of Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Kevin Gausman pitched effectively, but the group has been durable with only Gonzalez and Norris spending brief time on the disabled list this season. After using a total of 12 or more starters in each of the previous three seasons under Showalter, the Orioles have sent just seven starters to the hill in 2014 with long reliever T.J. McFarland only receiving one spot start.

Four Oriole starters — Tillman, Chen, Norris, and Gonzalez — have made 24 or more starts. For perspective, only three made 24 or more starts in 2013 and just one did it in 2012 when the Orioles earned their first postseason trip in 15 years.

Upon learning of Davis’ suspension on Friday, the Orioles responded by promptly sweeping a twin bill over the Yankees in which they allowed one run in 20 total innings. The nightcap was particularly indicative of what the Orioles have become as they fielded what looked like a spring training lineup that included only four players from the Opening Day order and three who weren’t even on the 40-man roster at the start of the year. It was no problem for Bud Norris, who pitched seven shutout innings against the fading Yankees in a 5-0 victory.

“Good pitching solves a lot of problems, issues, whatever you might want to call it,” said Showalter as he reflected on the work his club did following the Davis announcement on Friday. “That’s usually where it starts.”

And it’s why the Orioles shouldn’t be counted out, even after this latest blow to the lineup.

 

 

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Davis receives 25-game ban for amphetamine use

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Davis receives 25-game ban for amphetamine use

Posted on 12 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Closing in on their first American League East title in 17 years, the Orioles learned Friday that slugger Chris Davis has been suspended 25 games for testing positive for amphetamine use.

Manager Buck Showalter confirmed the news Friday morning prior to Baltimore’s day-night doubleheader against the New York Yankees. Davis phoned his manager Thursday night to break the news as his 25-game ban will extend into the postseason, meaning he would not be eligible to play in the first eight games of the playoffs should the Orioles advance that far.

In a statement released Monday morning, Davis said he tested positive for Adderall, a drug he had an exemption to use in the past, but not this season.

“I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans,” Davis said. “I made a mistake by taking Adderall. I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic use exemption this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately.”

Davis hit a franchise-record 53 home runs a year ago before falling off significantly this season, hitting just .196 with 26 home runs and 72 runs batted in.

The 28-year-old was outspoken against performance-enhancing drug use in the midst of his record-breaking season and while Adderall doesn’t carry the same stigma of a steroid, doubts about his feats in 2013 will undoubtedly come under even more scrutiny with Friday’s news.

“At this point it’s not up to me to gauge what’s fair or not fair,” said Showalter about public perception. “I know what the positive test was for and believe me, I’m not condoning any positive test. Everybody knows what the rules are, so it is what it is. We’ve all made mistakes and none of us would like to have our whole life judged by our worst decision.”

For the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, Steve Pearce started at first base while the recently-acquired Kelly Johnson played third. The Orioles will have an open spot on the 40-man roster with Davis suspended, which means they could consider adding someone from their “taxi squad” in Sarasota. First baseman and the organization’s minor league Player of the Year Christian Walker is among the players continuing to work out in Florida.

With Davis ineligible for the first eight games of the postseason if the Orioles advance to the American League Championship Series, they would have to potentially decide whether to name him to the ALCS roster and play a man down to begin the series or push back his potential return until the World Series. Of course, there isn’t much precedent for a situation such as this as teams are only allowed to change their roster in the midst of a postseason series because of an injury.

Should the Orioles’ season end without playing eight postseason games, the remainder of Davis’ suspension would carry over into the start of the 2015 campaign.

Davis is scheduled to become a free agent after next season and has undoubtedly cost himself millions with a poor 2014 followed by the news of Friday’s suspension.

Resilient all year long despite season-ending injuries to catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado, the Orioles will now face another substantial challenge, even if Davis failed to approach the success he enjoyed in 2013.

“I’m disappointed, but I know Chris is, too. It is what it is,” Showalter said. “We’re going to try to deal with it and move on. The timing’s never good, but it’s one of those challenges. That’s why we have this in place and [are] fully supportive of it. These are the things that everybody knew beforehand.

“You learn to deal with the problems and the challenges along the way. If they’re self-inflicted, there’s no ‘woe is me.’ And this is self-inflicted.”

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Orioles hoping to have Hardy back in lineup by Friday

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Orioles hoping to have Hardy back in lineup by Friday

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles hope the favorable results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam will lead to shortstop J.J. Hardy’s return to the lineup as early as Friday when they welcome the New York Yankees to Camden Yards for a day-night doubleheader.

Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston that Hardy met with Dr. Michael Jacobs and received a cortisone injection in the sacroiliac joint in his lower back on Tuesday. It’s similar to the treatment Hardy received in April when he experienced spasms that caused his back to lock up, and the MRI results showed no changes or structural concerns, according to the Baltimore skipper.

The injection typically requires 48 hours to take effect, which would presumably have Hardy ready to go by Friday in Showalter’s mind. Of course, the Orioles have taken great caution with their Gold Glove shortstop as a 10-game lead in the American League East entering Wednesday allows them to do.

Hardy originally experienced a lower back spasm that forced him out of a game on Sept. 1. After returning to the lineup for three contests last week, Hardy hasn’t played since last Friday as he continues to experience soreness. The 32-year-old missed six games in early April due to lower back spasms that were more severe than what he experienced last week.

In 480 at-bats this season, Hardy is hitting .281 with nine home runs, 26 doubles, and 52 runs batted in.

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Hardy to undergo MRI in Baltimore on Tuesday

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Hardy to undergo MRI in Baltimore on Tuesday

Posted on 08 September 2014 by Luke Jones

Dealing with a lingering back issue for over a week, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will fly back to Baltimore to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Tuesday morning.

The 32-year-old was not in Monday’s lineup for the opener of a three-game set against the Boston Red Sox and hasn’t played since Friday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Rays. Hardy originally left last Monday’s game against the Minnesota Twins due to a lower back spasm and has played in only one game since then.

Hardy told reporters in Boston that he is still dealing with soreness despite not experiencing further spasms. He added that he would likely try to play under different circumstances, alluding to the Orioles enjoying a 9 1/2 game lead in the American League East entering Monday.

The veteran took part in some baseball activities earlier in the day in Boston before discussing the idea of undergoing an MRI with manager Buck Showalter. The Orioles remain hopeful that he’ll return to the lineup for Friday’s doubleheader against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.

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Orioles announce schedule for 2015 season

Posted on 08 September 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

ORIOLES ANNOUNCE 2015 SCHEDULE

Season opens April 6 at Tampa Bay, home opener slated for April 10 against Toronto

The Orioles today announced they will open the 2015 season on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays before heading to Baltimore for their home opener at Oriole Park on April 10 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Orioles will again host each American League East rival three times. The Boston Red Sox will visit Baltimore April 24-26, June 9-11, and September 14-16. The Orioles will host the New York Yankees April 13-15, June 12-14, and October 2-4. The Rays will visit Charm City May 1-3 and 29-31, and August 31-September 2. The Blue Jays will play a total of 10 games in Baltimore, April 10-12, May 11-13, and September 28-October 1.

The 2015 Interleague schedule features visits to Baltimore by the Philadelphia Phillies (June 15-16), Washington Nationals (July 10-12), Atlanta Braves (July 27-29), and New York Mets (August 18-19). The Orioles will visit the Mets (May 5-6), Miami Marlins (May 22-24), Phillies (June 17-18), and Nationals (September 21-23) as part of Interleague Play.

Baltimore will host the rest of the AL once: Chicago White Sox (April 27-29), Los Angeles Angels (May 15-17), Seattle Mariners (May 19-21), Houston Astros (May 25-27), Cleveland Indians (June 26-28), Texas Rangers (June 29-July 2), Detroit Tigers (July 30-August 2), Oakland Athletics (August 14-17), Minnesota Twins (August 20-23), and Kansas City Royals (September 11-13).

The Orioles will play 18 of 27 games in May at home, their busiest month at Oriole Park. Overall, the Birds will play 48 of the 88 games prior to the All-Star break (July 13-16) at home. The Orioles have a 10-game homestand, August 14-23 (Oakland, New York-NL, and Minnesota) and a pair of nine-game homestands; April 24-May 3 (Boston, Chicago-AL, and Tampa Bay), and May 11-21 (Toronto, Los Angeles-AL, and Seattle).

The Orioles will play 15 of 25 games in July on the road. They have a 10-game road trip, September 17-27 (at Tampa Bay, Washington, and Boston) and a pair of nine-game road trips; July 17-26 (to Detroit, New York-AL, and Tampa Bay) and August 3-13 (to Oakland, Los Angeles-AL, and Seattle).

The 2015 season will be the Orioles’ 24th at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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Keeping eye on Orioles bullpen in September

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Keeping eye on Orioles bullpen in September

Posted on 05 September 2014 by Luke Jones

There’s little to be concerned about with the Orioles enjoying a 9 1/2 game lead in the American League East entering the weekend, but the late innings of Thursday’s 9-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds suggest there might be something worth monitoring in the short-term future.

The Orioles bullpen has been stellar all season, ranking fourth in the AL with a 3.21 ERA, but there have been a few leaks over the last week that likely grabbed the attention of manager Buck Showalter. Baltimore relievers only rank sixth in the AL in innings pitched, which doesn’t indicate overuse being a major concern, but witnessing Brian Matusz and the newly-recalled Evan Meek warm up in the eighth inning of a two-run game Thursday — the night after Miguel Gonzalez had pitched a complete-game shutout to give the entire bullpen a night off — made it clear that Showalter didn’t have his full array of arms.

Left-handed reliever Andrew Miller is currently dealing with a tweaked hamstring and hasn’t pitched since Monday when he allowed two hits and an earned run while retiring only two batters. The former Boston reliever has downplayed the significance of his injury, but it’s clear the Orioles manager was trying to avoid using him this week.

Outstanding right-hander Darren O’Day not warming up after Tommy Hunter allowed a leadoff double in the eighth inning Thursday makes you wonder if he might be dealing with a physical challenge as well. O’Day did throw 26 pitches in a rare poor appearance Tuesday when he allowed a grand slam to Jay Bruce, but the submarine-style pitcher only seeing one appearance since Saturday is a little unusual.

Right-hander Brad Brach has been one of the better stories of the 2014 season, but the 28-year-old has allowed five earned runs, nine hits, and three walks in his last three innings of work spanning five appearances. His four runs allowed Thursday allowed the Reds to come back from what was originally a 6-0 deficit in the first inning to force a 7-7 tie in the seventh.

And even though closer Zach Britton continues to do remarkable work in the ninth, he ranks eighth in the majors in innings pitched by relievers and recently completed a stretch in which he appeared in five games in seven days. The former starting pitcher is used to a heavy volume of work, but pitching so frequently is a difficult adjustment for someone in his first season pitching in relief.

By no means should these factors instill any sense of panic, but they do provide evidence for Showalter to make use of his September bullpen that currently features 11 pitchers. The manager has already said he won’t change his managerial style before the Orioles potentially clinch their first division title since 1997, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to lighten the load for the key members of his bullpen such as Britton, O’Day, and Miller while passing a few more opportunities toward the likes of Hunter, Matusz, Ryan Webb, T.J.McFarland, and even veteran Joe Saunders.

It’s a careful balancing act as relievers need regular work to remain sharp, but there’s no question that Showalter will want to do everything he can to ensure that his late-inning weapons are as close to full strength as they can be in October.

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Orioles extend player development contracts with five affiliates

Posted on 04 September 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Thursday that they have extended the working agreements with five minor league affiliates.

The club signed four-year agreements through the 2018 season with Triple-A Norfolk, Double-A Bowie, and Class-A Frederick and two-year agreements through the 2016 season with Class-A Delmarva and Short-Season Class-A Aberdeen.

“We have been very pleased with our arrangements with these clubs over the years and look forward to continuing those relationships,” said vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette. “We have a unique situation with our affiliates being so close to Baltimore, and it is important to us to maintain good relationships in those areas and allow our fans an opportunity to see the Orioles’ stars of tomorrow in their own backyard.”

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Hardy out of Tuesday’s lineup, four more added to Orioles’ expanded roster

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Hardy out of Tuesday’s lineup, four more added to Orioles’ expanded roster

Posted on 02 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles began a three-game interleague series with the Cincinnati Reds without the starting shortstop in the starting lineup Tuesday.

After leaving Monday’s loss to the Minnesota Twins with back spasms, J.J. Hardy was on the bench as manager Buck Showalter wanted to give the veteran infielder an extra day to rest. Hardy told reporters following Monday’s game that the spasm did not cause his back to lock up like the one in April that forced him to miss five games.

Infielder Ryan Flaherty was starting at shortstop in place of Hardy against the Reds.

The Orioles continued their roster expansion Tuesday by recalling pitchers T.J. McFarland and Ryan Webb and catcher Steve Clevenger and selecting the contract of Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Quintin Berry. Showalter told reporters prior to Tuesday’s game that he doesn’t anticipate adding any other players unless injuries dictate a need.

While McFarland and Clevenger were recently on the roster before temporarily being optioned, Webb is making his return to the Orioles bullpen for the first time since being optioned on Aug. 1. The acquisition of left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller at the non-waiver trade deadline pushed Webb to the minor leagues where he posted a 4.76 ERA in 11 1/3 innings for the Tides. In 42 2/3 innings for the Orioles this season, the 28-year-old has pitched to a 3.80 ERA.

Berry will provide the Orioles another speedy option off the bench as he batted .285 with 25 stolen bases in 31 attempts in 112 games for Norfolk this season. Including the postseason, Berry is 29-for-29 stealing bases in his major league career, which includes stops in Detroit and Boston.

In order to make room for Berry on the 40-man roster, the Orioles placed third baseman Manny Machado on the 60-day disabled list. The 22-year-old Gold Glove winner underwent season-ending knee surgery last week.

In other injury-related news, first baseman and outfielder Steve Pearce continues to improve after suffering an abdominal strain last week. The Orioles and Pearce are hopeful that he’ll be ready to return this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg.

After tweaking his leg on his final pitch against the Twins on Monday afternoon, Miller is day to day and may have just experienced a cramp, according to Showalter.

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Hardy leaves Monday’s game with light back spasms

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Hardy leaves Monday’s game with light back spasms

Posted on 01 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Shortstop J.J. Hardy lefty Monday’s game with some light back spasms in the eighth inning of the Orioles’ 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Hardy went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and was replaced by utility infielder Ryan Flaherty after he came around to score on catcher Nick Hundley’s three-run homer to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. After missing five games earlier in April due to a similar ailment, Hardy did not seem overly concerned following the game and told reporters he expected to be in the lineup when the Orioles welcome the Cincinnati Reds to Camden Yards on Tuesday night.

“Earlier this year, it started with spasms, but then it completely locked up on me and I missed a week,” Hardy said. “It didn’t lock up on me [this time], so I think it’s just some light spasms. It’s probably a good thing that I got out of there.”

Hardy wondered if the heat finally hitting Baltimore over the weekend had a part in the spasms occurring. The infielder estimated he lost six or seven pounds from perspiring during Sunday’s game.

Manager Buck Showalter wanted to play it safe with his Gold Glove shortstop and described Hardy as “day to day” following the game.

“He kind of wanted to continue, but I didn’t want to take a chance of him getting any worse,” Showalter said. “I’m hoping it was just a sticky, hot day, and it caught up with him a little bit. I just wanted to be on the safe side and see what tomorrow brings. His last at-bat, I noticed he looked a little different. He said it had just tightened up on him a little bit.”

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Veteran pitchers Saunders, Meek become first September call-ups for Orioles

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Veteran pitchers Saunders, Meek become first September call-ups for Orioles

Posted on 01 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With the calendar turning to September, the Orioles wasted no time making their first call-ups for the expanded roster by summoning relief pitchers Joe Saunders and Evan Meek on Monday.

Baltimore selected Saunders’s contract while recalling Meek and right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman, who started Monday’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins. Infielder Kelly Johnson also reported to the Orioles and was officially added to the roster after being acquired from the Boston Red Sox late Saturday night.

Beginning the season in the Texas Rangers’ rotation, Saunders was released twice in the month of July and went 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA in eight starts for Texas. Upon being released by the Ranger on July 4, Saunders signed a minor-league deal with the Kansas City Royals and was let go later in the month after posting a 6.75 ERA in four starts for Triple-A Omaha.

The 33-year-old Saunders posted a 1.50 ERA in 10 relief appearances for Triple-A Norfolk, holding left-handed hitters to a .211 average. Of course, Saunders was previously acquired by the Orioles late in the 2012 campaign and went 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings. He was the winning pitcher in the inaugural American League Wild Card Game against Texas that sent the Orioles to their first AL Division Series appearance since 1997.

Manager Buck Showalter envisions Saunders serving a role similar in nature to the one held by T.J. McFarland for most of the season. After being temporarily optioned to the minors on Sunday, McFarland is expected to be recalled on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Meek went 2-0 with 16 saves and a 1.94 ERA (in 39 games for the Tides this season, striking out 37 and walking only four. He appeared in 15 games for the Orioles earlier this season, posting a 7.47 ERA.

The Orioles are also expected to recall right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Webb and backup catcher Steve Clevenger on Tuesday. Webb has recently been dealing with shoulder fatigue and was given a few days to rest. He is expected to test the shoulder for the Tides on Monday before being recalled for the three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Showalter said first baseman and outfielder Steve Pearce is feeling much better from the abdominal strain that sidelined him Friday night. The manager hopes he can give it “a test run” at some point during the Cincinnati series.

The organization also announced which minor-leaguer players would be attending the instructional camp in Sarasota that begins on Sept. 6. Outfielders Dariel Alvarez and Henry Urrutia, infielders Christian Walker and Buck Britton, catchers Michael Ohlman and Brian Ward, and pitchers Oliver Drake, Eddie Gamboa, Preston Guilmet, Brock Huntzinger, Chris Jones, Tyler Wilson, and Mike Wright will participate in workouts and remain ready in case there’s a need at the major-league level during the month of September.

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