Posted on 23 May 2012 by WNST Staff
Posted on 23 May 2012 by WNST Staff
Posted on 22 May 2012 by Luke Jones
(Updated: 7:30 p.m.)
BALTIMORE — A day after second baseman Brian Roberts expressed optimism that he was closer than ever to a return, the Orioles announced he will begin a long-awaited rehab assignment on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old Roberts will report to Double-A Bowie to begin a minor league rehab assignment, which the club hopes will lead to his return after a year-plus layoff. Roberts last played in a game on May 16, 2011 at Fenway Park.
“[I’m] excited, scared, a little bit of everything,” Roberts said. “It’s been a long time coming for sure. Sometimes it feels like two days and sometimes it feels like 10 years, but I’m extremely excited.”
Under major league baseball rules, Roberts has a maximum of 20 days for a rehab assignment as a position player. Manager Buck Showalter and Roberts said he will likely take the full amount of time before being activated.
Roberts will play second base and receive two or three at-bats in his first couple games. He also expects to serve as the designated hitter on occasion and will have some days off mixed in as well. Roberts said he’s viewing the 20-day period as his version of spring training.
He’s embracing the reality of once again playing baseball — even in the minor leagues — after simply struggling with his overall quality of life at different points over his recovery time.
“When there’s days where you’re laying on the couch and you really can’t even function, you’re not necessarily even thinking about baseball,” Roberts said. “There were days that [playing again] never even crossed my mind. I was just trying to get back to a normal life. As we continued to progress, I still had doubts about playing baseball, but I had more confidence in being able to live a productive and enjoyable life. Now, I’m beginning to think that playing baseball at a high level is a reality as well.”
The 20-day period would end on June 11, meaning Roberts could be in the lineup when the Orioles welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates to town for an interleague series on June 12.
Listen to Roberts’ entire interview with the media prior to Tuesday’s game right here.
Posted on 22 May 2012 by Luke Jones
BALTIMORE — The view from the dugout wasn’t pretty on Monday as the Orioles squandered an early lead before falling 8-6 to the Boston Red Sox, but Brian Roberts is watching the action with a different perspective these days.
Having not played in a game in over a year, the second baseman admittedly wondered if he’d ever take his spot on the diamond at Camden Yards again while simply struggling with his overall quality of life at different points over the last 20 months. However, after a healthy spring of fielding ground balls, taking swings in the cage, and turning the double play in an empty stadium hours before games, Roberts can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
While manager Buck Showalter and Roberts won’t disclose the specific timeline, the pair admitted there is a date in mind for the 34-year-old to go on a much-anticipated minor league rehab assignment — perhaps as early as the next week or so. After so many setbacks and disappointments over a long road to recovery, you can forgive the involved parties for not wanting to jinx the possibility.
“For a long time, I wasn’t sure where the finish line was and I certainly didn’t see it,” Roberts said before the start of the Boston series. “When you do get a glimpse of that, it’s nice and you do get a breath of fresh air and some added momentum. There were a lot of times in the last year that I had no idea if I’d ever play baseball again. So, in some ways, it’d be a huge achievement or triumph just to get back out on that field.”
Of course, embarking on a rehab assignment isn’t exactly taking the field against the Red Sox or the Yankees at Camden Yards, but Roberts has done everything he possibly can and cleared all hurdles spelled out by the doctors to this point. The medical team has prepared Roberts for the possibility of some growing pains as he re-acclimates himself to playing in a live-game environment with a quicker pace and the background noise of people in the stands.
But when you remember Roberts was advised not to attend January’s Fan Fest event due to the effect the ambiance of a big crowd might have had on his recovery efforts, simply hearing the Orioles and Roberts talk in terms of when — not if — he will play again is a colossal step forward.
Admittedly, the veteran second baseman won’t really know how close he is to being ready to return to the Orioles until he faces real pitchers and takes his spot at second base for one of the organization’s minor league affiliates.
“Mike Bordick doesn’t have the stuff that Strasburg had [Sunday],” Roberts quipped. “I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll know until I get out there. I’ve taken probably thousands of swings off coaches without a huge environment around. I have been in the environment, I haven’t played in the environment and had the adrenaline rush and all those things I will have to get used to again. My doctor said I will probably go through the ups and downs that first week or two of getting back into it.”
While the possibility of Roberts’ return remains a hypothetical until proven otherwise, Showalter admits to daydreaming more and more about the former All-Star second baseman returning to the lineup. What kind of workload he can handle remains to be seen, but the Baltimore skipper made it clear he won’t view the longest-tenured Oriole as a part-time project after dismissing the notion that Roberts might only be a role player at this point in his career.
Showalter has too much appreciation for all the trials the 12-year veteran has faced over the last year to sell him short on a potential return.
“I think Brian is looking at it as a lot more than just getting here,” Showalter said. “Brian wants to get here and bring what Brian can bring, and we all know what that capability is. I think he knows what it takes to perform at this level. He’s not going to put himself in a position to come back unless he knows he can bring that.”
If — and it’s still a major if at this point — Roberts proves capable of making his return to the big leagues after a successful rehab assignment, the Orioles will be faced with the interesting dilemma of how to work him back into the lineup. In Roberts’ absence, current second baseman Robert Andino has done an admirable job, playing solid defense and providing more offense than expected at the bottom of the order.
The effort hasn’t been overlooked by Roberts, who praised Andino’s play when asked whether he felt he would have to compete to win back his starting job.
“Robert has a done a phenomenal job,” Roberts said. “It’s been fun to watch him play, and I’ve been excited to see him. Our team would be not where we are right now if he hadn’t played the way he has.”
Posted on 21 May 2012 by Luke Jones
BALTIMORE — The first-place Orioles welcomed the red-hot Boston Red Sox to town to begin a three-game set on Monday, but all pre-game discussion centered around two players yet to step foot on the field in 2012.
Second baseman Brian Roberts appears closer than ever to making his long-awaited return to the field and may start a minor league rehabilitation assignment within the next week or two. Roberts and manager Buck Showalter have a date in mind to begin the assignment, but the organization is keeping it close to the vest in case of any unforeseen setbacks.
In an extensive interview with the gathered media in the clubhouse on Monday afternoon (you can hear his comments HERE), Roberts said it was unlikely he would report to Sarasota but would instead begin playing in minor league games — Double-A Bowie and Single-A Frederick would be the logical destinations based on their schedule of home games — when deemed ready by his doctors.
I’ll have much more on Roberts later at WNST.net, but it’s apparent the Orioles are talking in terms of when — not if — the veteran second baseman returns.
“Hopefully, that’s something that’s imminent,” said Showalter about a rehab assignment. “We’ve got a plan in place, and 99 percent of it is based on what Brian and his doctors are talking about. We’re at the point where there’s a potential date involved.”
Left-handed pitcher Zach Britton is moving closer to a return after pitching in an extended spring training game in Sarasota on Monday. He threw 69 pitches over five innings and will have another workday on Wednesday. If all goes to plan, Britton could report to an affiliate to officially begin his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday.
Britton hasn’t suffered any setbacks since being placed on the 15-day disabled list late in spring training, and it appears the 24-year-old could find his way back to Baltimore by mid-June, which would create the interesting question of who he might replace in the rotation. Given the pitching woes of the last decade, that would be a welcome problem to have.
The news wasn’t as positive on relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom (finger) as he will not be ready to come off the disabled list on Saturday. He will likely go on a brief rehab assignment, and Showalter said it will likely be another two weeks or so until he’s ready to return to the 25-man roster.
Third baseman Mark Reynolds (strained oblique) is also close to going on a minor league rehab assignment. Meanwhile, veteran infielder Miguel Tejada reported to Triple-A Norfolk over the weekend and was scheduled to bat cleanup and play third base for the Tides on Monday.
Here are Monday night’s lineups…
SS Mike Aviles
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Will Middlebrooks
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
LF Daniel Nava
CF Marlon Byrd
RF Che-Hsuan Lin
SP Clay Buchholz (4-2, 7.77 ERA)
LF Xavier Avery
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
3B Wilson Betemit
DH Nick Johnson
2B Robert Andino
SP Tommy Hunter (2-2, 4.78 ERA)
Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Buck Showalter, Brian Roberts, and Jim Johnson here and follow WNST on Twitter for live updates and analysis from Camden Yards throughout the evening.
Posted on 09 May 2012 by Luke Jones
History was made at Camden Yards on Tuesday night, but the story for the Orioles wasn’t Josh Hamilton becoming the 16th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a single game.
Entering Monday with the best earned run average in the American League and coming off a nine-game stretch in which they allowed a total of 23 runs against Oakland, New York, and Boston, the Orioles have surrendered 24 runs over the last two nights against the powerful Texas Rangers to knock them down a couple pegs in an otherwise impressive start to the 2012 season.
Like Brian Matusz on Monday, Jake Arrieta had no answers for the Texas lineup as an Orioles starter turned in a poor outing for the third straight game while a patchwork bullpen that included three call-ups over the last two days hasn’t been any better.
Needless to say, manager Buck Showalter wasn’t in the mood to discuss the heroics of Hamilton, whose 18 total bases on Tuesday set an American League record and were one shy of former Dodger Shawn Green’s major-league record 19 set on May 23, 2002.
“We didn’t score many runs, either,” Showalter said. “I think you’ve got to tip your hat to their pitching staff, too. We’ve obviously given up a lot of runs in a couple nights to make it tough. Obviously, Hamilton had a big night.”
The offense, which seemed to have come alive in the last five games of the last road trip, has suddenly gone silent over the last two nights against Texas starters Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz, scoring just six runs in two games.
The Orioles have lost consecutive games for the first time since April 20 and 21 in Anaheim, but one of the most impressive aspects of their 19-11 start has been their ability to dust themselves off after the handful of losses suffered over the first five weeks of the season. Even so, you have to wonder how two lopsided losses to the Rangers — who look like the class of the American League early on — will impact the club’s psyche following a successful 5-1 road trip against the Yankees and the Red Sox.
After winning a remarkable 17-inning marathon in Boston on Sunday, the Orioles have appeared to lack energy over the last two nights, though it’s easy to say that when facing a team many regard as the best in baseball. In addition to the physical demands of the aforementioned game against the Red Sox, you wonder if the inexperienced Orioles suffered a mental hangover in coming home after such a successful road trip against their two biggest tormentors of the last 14 years.
One of the biggest signs of a winning team is its ability to rebound quickly from tough losses and prevent negative spurts from transforming into extended losing streaks. Realistically speaking, two straight losses are nothing at all over which to be concerned, but mainstays of the roster over the last few years have a laundry list of lengthy swoons they’ll need to keep from their minds while trying to regroup for the final two games of the series against the Rangers.
As uplifting as their 19-11 start has been, dropping 10 of their next 11 would all but erase the positive vibes circulating through the Baltimore clubhouse. They can try to fight it all they want, but losing still flows through the veins of many key players and can’t be eliminated completely in a 30-game period. Unlike winning clubs of recent seasons, the Orioles don’t have positive experiences of rebounding from adversity from which to draw, forcing you to take pregnant pause at the first sign of trouble.
They simply aren’t familiar with how winning teams handle a bump or two in the road.
Despite being outscored 24-6 over the last two nights, the Orioles will have the opportunity to put that behind them immediately on Wednesday and Thursday as they try to snap a seven-game losing streak to the two-time American League champions that dates back to last season.
Unlike any other sport, baseball gives you the opportunity to erase the pain immediately.
But it’s also unforgiving in how consecutive losses can quickly turn into a nightmarish stretch of time if you’re not careful.
The Orioles know that all too well in recent years and will try to get back on track with their pitching, the phase of the game that’s carried them to their best start since 2005.
It needs to regroup in a hurry.
Posted on 08 May 2012 by Tom Federline
From the blown foul/fair ball call by Bob Davidson last Monday evening in the Bronx to Chris Davis being the winning pitcher at Fenway Paaaaaaark, I was glued to the O’s. It has been awhile since I have made it an effort to make sure I caught at least some of the games by radio or tube. It was more than an effort, it was modifying schedules, like I did back in ’96/’97, ’79-’83, ’69-’73. I had to watch the games. I had to watch the highlights. I had to hear Fred Manfra and Joe Angel make the calls. And the O’s won. They pitched. They hit. They pitched again. They won again. They never gave up. I remember those days. Are they back? Who cares? Baltimore just had seven days of Oriole magic.
The O’s took 2 of 3 from the Yankees. And it may have been a sweep. Hard to make that presumption at this point because of a blown call early in the first game of the series. I can say one thing though, that blown fair ball call, which was clearly foul, gave steroid boy Teixeira a hit, kept the inning going, with a home run that followed and a score of Yankees 2- O’s 1. That’s how the game ended. A blown call by Bob Davidson (not the car salesman), whom is a challenged/past his prime umpire that should be dismissed. It’s not the first time this guy has “blown” a call, not “missed” a call – but “blown” a call. Ask A Marlins fan about Bob Davidson. Accountability – a lost word, a forgotten policy, shunned integrity in this day and age – all wrong.
The play in question was a ball hit down the first base line with a great camera angle. I had the pleasure of being in Buffalo, NY and listening to Ken Singleton make the call for his beloved Yankees. Ken Singleton announcing for the New York Spankmees – add that to the list of things that are just “All Wrong”. Singletons commentary – “It must have caught the corner of the bag. That’s a real tough call for an umpire. The Yankees need a few calls to go their way.” Davidson was watching it happen 15 feet in front of him, while he was standing on the line. Worst part about it, no other umpires were consulted. Fire them all. Ok, suspend the other 3 without pay. Accountability.
Then there was Wednesday evening, Jake Arietta mowing down the Spankmees and beating that Ivan “over-rated” Nova guy 5-0. Orioles shutting them down! During this last game, Yankee fans and stadium personnel reclaimed themselves as one of the Major Leagues top classless acts out there. Did you see the peanuts and beer being thrown over the top of the dugout as the Orioles would circle the bases and head back into the dugout? This coming from supposedly full season ticket holders with seats that are well over $300/ticket/game. Another example of how money can’t buy you everything. The worst part about this one, it happened all game without recourse from Yankee security or ushers. Boston fans play the “obnoxious/arrogant” role. Yankee fans still just don’t get it.
Onto Beantown. A 13 inning win Friday, unfortunately not breaking that “winning” streak against the O’s by Jon Lester, but still a win. Friday night after a tough week at work, I was glued to the game as if it were a playoff game in October. Then on Saturday simply whooping up on the Blowsox. Annnnnd thennn…….. there was Sunday….. an Oriole Classic. There was the win on the final day of the season last year keeping the Blowsox out of the playoffs and thennnn there was Sunday. The cool thing about this one is, that all Oriole fans have a story of where they were, what they were doing and how they reacted to the marathon. On their turf, a 3-game sweep, 39 innings played, our first baseman/DH shuts them down in the last 2 innings. You kiddin’ me? O’s come home with a 5 -1 roadtrip and the baseball world is talking.
It may all come tumbling down. It may not last. Who cares? It’s May 8th, the Orioles are tied for first place in the toughest division in baseball. It has been a different spring in B-town. Their defense is questionable (except for Jones to Hardy to Weiters – anyone who tries will be out at home). Their hitting is sporadic, but recently timely. Their pitching (except for last night and one other inning this year), darn near lights out. Buck-Buck has them playing and Buck-Buck be managing. They are under the radar. They are becoming a confident team. It sure would be nice to be singing and listenin’ on the radio to – “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” – (McFadden and Whitehead), come September/October. I know one other thing, it sure was a fun first week of May. Go O’s.
Posted on 06 May 2012 by Luke Jones
Trying to recount what we witnessed Sunday afternoon in the Orioles’ 9-6 win over the Red Sox in 17 innings won’t do it justice.
In all my years watching Orioles baseball, I haven’t seen anything like it.
But lost in the excitement of designated hitter Chris Davis’ two-inning relief stint that resulted in his first career win and the Orioles’ first three-game sweep at Fenway Park since 1994 is a dirty little secret.
Manager Buck Showalter essentially threw in the towel in the bottom of the 16th inning.
After Jim Johnson worked two innings to empty the bullpen, Showalter decided he wasn’t going to risk his closer any further or shake up his rotation by sending Monday starter Brian Matusz to the mound. While still hoping for a minor miracle, he was willing to sacrifice one game against the Red Sox with thoughts of a challenging four-game series with the Texas Rangers squarely in his mind.
His post-game comments about Davis’ lively arm and how he pitched in college — his fastball hit 91 mph and he struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Adrian Gonzalez over his two innings — only explained the manager’s decision to choose Davis over any other available position players. Without any consideration for the coming days, going to Davis wasn’t Showalter’s best option to try to win Sunday’s game — plain and simple.
The decision would have brought the ire of fans had Davis not fared so well, but it’s hard to fault the manager for focusing on the big picture in not wanting to upset the karma of his league-leading pitching staff. There were 134 more regular-season games to think about after Sunday.
Yet, the red-hot Orioles still found a way to win the game thanks to a game-saving relay throw to the plate by J.J. Hardy in the 16th and Adam Jones’ three-run home run in the top of the 17th inning. The winning blast came against Boston outfielder Darnell McDonald, who enter the game after Bobby Valentine followed his peer’s line of thinking an inning later.
Despite the lowest expectations of any season in recent memory, the Orioles are playing outstanding baseball and even found a way to earn a win they had no business taking on Sunday. Squandering an early 5-0 lead, grounding into six double plays, and relying on a position player to throw the final two innings aren’t exactly winning ingredients drawn up in the off-season.
However, Showalter has his team believing it’s capable of competing and beating the best teams in the American League. Now sitting atop the AL East and owning the best record in the league, the Orioles just finished a 5-1 road trip against the Yankees and the Red Sox.
Their starting pitching has been good and the bullpen even better, owning the best earned run average in baseball after allowing one earned run in 23 innings of relief work against the Red Sox over the weekend. The offense even perked up during the trip, scoring 36 runs over the six games against New York and Boston.
Even if the cynic wonders if the 19-9 record represents the high-water mark of the season with the powerful Rangers coming to town for a four-game set against a taxed bullpen, there’s no disputing how impressive the Orioles have been through the season’s first 28 games. Baltimore is playing its best baseball since 2005, a team that spent much of the first half of the season in first place before collapsing down the stretch and finishing with a 74-88 record.
Are the Orioles capable of continuing their winning ways? History suggests they can’t, but no one predicted the Orioles to be in this position in early May after a challenging schedule over the first month of the season.
Inevitably, the Orioles will run into a tough stretch and how they respond to that adversity will give us a much better idea of what lies ahead for the totality of the 2012 season. They haven’t lost consecutive games since April 20-21, but the club’s ability to avoid the extended swoons of the past will determine whether they can play meaningful games in the final two months of the season.
Right now, they can do no wrong, even after Showalter was — begrudgingly — willing to wave the white flag on Sunday.
Call it Orioles magic, label it karma, or even suggest the law of averages will eventually return the baseball universe to its normal state if you must.
But there’s no disputing how enjoyable it’s been to watch for a fan base starving for a winner.
Posted on 06 May 2012 by WNST Staff