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Orioles unveil Opening Day lineup against Tampa Bay

Posted on 01 April 2013 by Luke Jones

The Orioles begin their 2013 season on Tuesday in St. Petersburg against the Tampa Bay Rays and unveiled their lineup for the first game of the season on Monday.

Right-hander Jason Hammel will take the hill against Rays southpaw David Price, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.

Nick Markakis will pick up where he left off last season as the club’s leadoff hitter after proving to be healthy over the final week of spring training. The 29-year-old right fielder missed most of March with a small herniated disc in his neck.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of manager Buck Showalter’s lineup for the season opener is third baseman Manny Machado hitting in the second spot in the order. Machado displayed improved patience during the spring and the Orioles are facing a tough left-hander on the mound, meaning Nate McLouth will be on the bench in favor of right-handed designated hitter Steve Pearce.

Nolan Reimold will play left field and hit seventh in what’s likely an effort to keep the pressure off the outfielder in the same way that Showalter has elected to put second baseman Brian Roberts in the No. 9 spot in the lineup to begin the season. Against right-handed pitching, McLouth will start in left field and Reimold will serve as the DH in most cases.

BALTIMORE
RF Nick Markakis
3B Manny Machado
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
SS J.J. Hardy
LF Nolan Reimold
DH Steve Pearce
2B Brian Roberts

SP Jason Hammel (2012 stats: 8-6, 3.43 ERA)

TAMPA BAY
CF Desmond Jennings
RF Sam Fuld
2B Ben Zobrist
3B Evan Longoria
LF Matt Joyce
SS Yunel Escobar
1B James Loney
C Jose Molina
DH Kelly Johnson

SP David Price (2012 stats: 20-5, 2.56 ERA)

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Orioles breathe sigh of relief as MRI reveals only contusions on Jones’ sore wrists

Posted on 03 June 2012 by Luke Jones

(Monday 11:45 a.m.)

It was difficult imagining the two-week-long nightmare getting much scarier for the Orioles until the news following Sunday’s 8-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays that center fielder Adam Jones would undergo an MRI on his sore right wrist.

However, the verdict was positive Monday morning as the club announced the test showed only contusions on his ailing wrists, meaning Jones will fly to Boston to join the club ahead of the start of a three-games series with the Red Sox on Tuesday night.

“Thanks for all the concern but I’m all good,” Jones said on Twitter. “On the way to Beantown.”

After being replaced by pinch hitter Nick Johnson in the ninth inning on Sunday, Jones told reporters his right wrist had bothered him for a few weeks and manager Buck Showalter decided to remove him from the game as a precautionary measure. The 26-year-old was hit by a pitch on his left wrist in Toronto last Wednesday and had been icing it over the last few days.

Leading the Orioles with a .315 average, 16 home runs, and 34 runs batted in, Jones is having the finest season of his seven-year career in the big leagues and signed a six-year, $85.5 million contract last weekend to remain in Baltimore through the 2018 season. An X-ray taken on the right wrist came back negative on Sunday, but the club elected to have Jones remain in Florida overnight for an MRI.

Jones maintained the right wrist still felt strong despite being sore for the last few weeks and did not recall a specific play on which he injured it.

The news couldn’t have come at a better time after the recent loss of right fielder Nick Markakis to a broken hamate bone and left fielder Nolan Reimold’s extended stay on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his neck.

Baltimore has lost 10 of its last 13 games, falling one game behind Tampa Bay in the American League East.

 

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Rays, O’s open series Friday with first place up for grabs

Posted on 31 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Orioles can’t quite complete comeback against Rays

Posted on 13 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Arrieta battles Shields as Orioles eye sweep

Posted on 13 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Matusz, Moore do battle Saturday night at Camden Yards

Posted on 12 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Lindstrom latest to make way to DL for Orioles

Posted on 11 May 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After years of battling one another to escape the cellar in the American League East, it looks peculiar to see the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays sitting tied atop the division.

Even if it is only the second week of May.

Of course, the Rays have become a household name among the elite teams of the American League over the last five seasons as the Orioles attempt to copy their secrets in competing with the fat payrolls of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

After a difficult series with the Texas Rangers in which they lost three of four games, the Orioles will send journeyman Dana Eveland to the hill in his first start with the club. The left-hander was 3-2 with a 2.21 earned run average in 36 2/3 innings with Triple-A Norfolk this season after failing to make the 25-man roster out of spring training.

The Orioles are Eveland’s seventh big league club after the 28-year-old previously had stints with Milwaukee, Arizona, Oakland, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and, most recently, the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 59 career starts in the majors, Eveland is 17-22 with a 5.38 ERA, including 19 quality starts.

To clear room for Eveland on the 25-man roster, the Orioles have placed relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom on the 15-day disabled list and minor league infielder Zelous Wheeler has been designated for assignment to create a spot for Eveland on the 40-man roster.

The right-handed reliever said after the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader he heard a pop in the middle finger of his pitching hand but didn’t believe it to be serious. Apparently, it was serious enough to sideline him despite a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings (13 appearances) this season.

“My middle finger, I kind of felt a pop on it on one of my two-seam fastballs, but it’s nothing serious at all,” Lindstrom said after Thursday’s outing. “Just a little soreness in my middle finger.”

Before Friday’s game, Jason Hammel was still listed as the expected starter for Monday when the New York Yankees come to town. The right-hander said he was still optimistic about that timetable for his next start after being scratched for Thursday’s start with right knee soreness.

Injured outfielder Nolan Reimold (herniated disc) finally received his epidural injection on Friday after it was delayed several days due to illness. Manager Buck Showalter had previously hoped Reimold would be able to go on a rehab assignment on Monday, but the recovery time from the injection will prevent that, likely meaning he will not be ready to return from the disabled list when eligible on Wednesday.

Former Oriole Luke Scott makes his return to Baltimore this weekend as he’s been on a tear for the Rays in the absence of Evan Longoria. Hitting cleanup and serving as the designated hitter on Friday night, Scott has seven home runs and 22 runs batted in while hitting .247 in his first 93 at-bats.

After spending four seasons with the Orioles, Scott holds no ill will toward the club after it elected to non-tender him in what would have been his final year of arbitration with the club. Scott missed the final two months of the 2011 season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

“I have just tremendous memories from here that I cherish,” Scott said in the Tampa Bay clubhouse prior to the series opener. “I am very thankful for them.”

Japanese pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada underwent Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow on Friday and issued a statement following the procedure:

“The procedure went as planned and Dr. [Lewis] Yocum felt good about how it went. He predicts a full recovery. I’m glad to have this over with and look forward to beginning my rehabilitation so I can get back to pitching for the Orioles as soon as possible.”

Here are Friday night’s lineups…

Tampa Bay
RF Ben Zobrist
1B Carlos Pena
CF B.J. Upton
DH Luke Scott
3B Jeff Keppinger
LF Matt Joyce
SS Sean Rodriguez
C Jose Molina
2B Elliot Johnson

SP Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 2.75 ERA)

Baltimore
3B Ryan Flaherty
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
LF Wilson Betemit
1B Chris Davis
DH Nick Johnson
2B Robert Andino

SP Dana Eveland (first 2012 start)

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear Luke Scott’s conversation with WNST.net’s Glenn Clark on Friday afternoon as well as Buck Showalter’s comments prior to the start of a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays HERE.

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Rays PBP voice Freed says Luke Scott has brought leadership to Tampa

Posted on 11 May 2012 by WNST Audio

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Eveland makes first start as Birds open series with Rays

Posted on 11 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Orioles looking to reverse Rogers Centre horrors this weekend

Posted on 13 April 2012 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have spent plenty of time over the years pointing out the economic disparities in baseball that contribute to their inability to compete against the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

However, no road destination in the AL East has been a bigger nightmare for the Orioles over the last three seasons than Rogers Centre in Toronto, where they will play a three-game series against the Blue Jays this weekend. Baltimore is an abysmal 4-23 in Canada since 2009 and has lost 26 of its last 31 games north of the border since June 2008. The horrific spell reached its low point last June before the Orioles finally snapped a 16-game losing streak in Toronto.

In contrast, the Orioles are 19-35 at Fenway Park, 15-39 in the Bronx, and 24-30 at Tropicana Field over the last three seasons.

With the Blue Jays off to a 4-2 start after an impressive Grapefruit League, the Orioles will have their hands full this weekend against the club that many view as an emerging threat in the division. And the man who’s led the big leagues in home runs over the last two seasons, Jose Bautista, hasn’t even started hitting yet (.174 and one home run).

The club’s futility against the Blue Jays in recent years is a prime example of why many fans grow weary from the likes of former executives such as Andy MacPhail and current executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette belaboring how the Yankees and Red Sox can spend more money than everyone else in the division.

That argument might hold some legitimacy if the Orioles were routinely pushing into the 85-to-90 win range on a semi-regular basis and falling short of the postseason. But when you’re not even competitive against the Blue Jays — who have finished in fourth place the last four seasons — it’s difficult to buy economics as the primary reason for the club’s failures.

Taking the lead

It’s been a rocky start for Nolan Reimold as the leadoff hitter, with the left fielder hitting just .238 and failing to register a walk in the first week of the season.

Hardly a conventional choice for the top spot in the order, Reimold is eighth among regulars in pitches seen per plate appearance (3.52) and has appeared to be overanxious at the plate in his five starts at the leadoff spot. Of course, we’re talking about a very small sample size from which to draw any conclusions, and it’s unlikely that manager Buck Showalter abandons the idea before at least a few more weeks of using Reimold in the top spot.

Many fans and media have criticized the idea of Reimold as the leadoff hitter, but the Orioles aren’t exactly dealing with a plethora of viable options to use in the top spot with second baseman Brian Roberts still sidelined.

J.J. Hardy served in the role for an extended time last season, but his .310 on-base percentage in 2011 and .320 career clip doesn’t exactly stand out as a no-brainer for the spot. Second baseman Robert Andino could eventually settle into the spot if he continues to develop as a regular, but Showalter appears content to leave Andino in the ninth spot to help turn the lineup over. Andino’s career on-base percentage is only .304 as he’s served in a limited fashion in his eight-year big league career.

Strictly looking at the numbers, right fielder Nick Markakis is the Orioles’ best option to hit in the leadoff spot, but it’s clear Showalter wants to keep him in a run-producing role. It’s easy to crunch the numbers and discuss the matter as if everything were in a vacuum, but any manager must always deal with egos and politics in the clubhouse when trying to fill out a lineup.

In a perfect world, Reimold would not be the leadoff hitter, but his underrated speed and .336 career on-base percentage are legitimate reasons to allow the experiment to continue for a few more weeks before making a switch.

Too much discussion is exhausted on the batting order — you simply want your best hitters getting as many plate appearances as possible — but it doesn’t take a sabermetrician to see more production is needed from the leadoff spot than what the Orioles have gotten in the first week.

What to do with Reynolds?

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