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Gonzalez’s DL stint may not be that painful for Orioles

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Gonzalez’s DL stint may not be that painful for Orioles

Posted on 09 May 2013 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 12:00 a.m.)

BALTIMORE — Wanting to play it safe with the nasty blister that’s developed on starter Miguel Gonzalez’s right thumb, the Orioles have elected to place the right-handed pitcher on the 15-day disabled list.

The club has recalled right-handed reliever Alex Burnett from Triple-A Norfolk to take his place on the 25-man roster as well as provide an extra arm in the bullpen for the next couple nights. Gonzalez’s DL stint is retroactive to May 4, meaning the 28-year-old could return to the starting rotation as early as May 19 in a series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Gonzalez completed a bullpen session on Thursday with a bandage covering the thumb, but he only threw fastballs as the blister that developed under a broken callous hindered his ability to throw his two-seam fastball and off-speed pitches. According to manager Buck Showalter, the plan is for Gonzalez to complete another bullpen session this weekend in Minnesota and then throw a rehab start at either Bowie or Norfolk next week.

Of course, a blister is a very tricky ailment for a pitcher that you can’t rush in fear of re-aggravating the skin and putting yourself right back in the same predicament. The Orioles remain confident that the decision to place Gonzalez on the DL is the proactive choice that will eliminate the problem for the remainder of the season.

“I just think this is the most prudent thing to do,” Showalter said. “I don’t care what happened today; he’s still going to be tentative throwing his breaking ball and his split. If it forms again, you’re going to have a season-long problem, so we just decided to get that done before he had the work day and get that out of his mind.

On the surface, the short-term loss of Gonzalez would create a problem after the Orioles finally appeared to ease their fifth-starter dilemma — at least for the time being — with veteran Freddy Garcia. The good news is the Orioles will only be faced with the problem of replacing Gonzalez in the rotation for Saturday’s start since they benefit from days off next week on Monday and Thursday.

Showalter was initially tight-lipped regarding his thoughts for Saturday’s starter, but announced that right-hander Steve Johnson would be recalled to take the ball in Minnesota. The 25-year-old Johnson pitched for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, throwing 94 pitches, allowing two earned runs, and striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings against Buffalo.

Once they’ve completed Saturday’s game, the Orioles could get away with using only Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, and Chris Tillman as starters all the way through Sunday, May 19 when Gonzalez would hypothetically be ready. Of course, that means Garcia would be available to pitch in relief or make a start should they want to give any of the aforementioned pitchers such as Chen an extra day of rest as Showalter often likes to do when able.

As Showalter likes to say, there are plenty of moving parts and a lot could change quickly, but the Orioles appear to be in good shape to endure Gonzalez’s absence thanks to a couple well-placed days off after recently completing a 20-day stretch void of any scheduled days of rest.

Roberts surgery successful

Second baseman Brian Roberts underwent right hamstring surgery on Thursday morning in Dallas in what was deemed a successful procedure.

The 35-year-old exchanged some text messages with Showalter and is expected to return to Sarasota this weekend where he’ll begin a six-week recovery period. The hope is that the procedure will eliminate any tangible risk of re-injuring the hamstring once Roberts is able to resume baseball activity.

“Everything went well today,” Showalter said. “Very positive. The doctors felt good about getting it done after getting in there. It will speed up the process. I’ve got marked off what [six] weeks is from today, so we’ll see what happens.”

Showalter expressed empathy for Roberts’ latest setback while acknowledging some of the frustration and emotional responses expressed by critics and fans regarding the $10 million the second baseman is making this season in the final year of a four-year, $40 million contract.

Various injuries have limited Roberts to just 118 games over the last four seasons.

“He’s not going to give in,” Showalter said. “That’s why it makes me confident that he’ll come back and be a contributor. We think he’s worth waiting on. It’s been tough on him. It would be kind of selfish to say it’s tough on us. It’s tougher on him if you put yourself in the position he’s been in the last two or three years and ask yourself sincerely what you would do.”

Orioles add minor-league third baseman Wood

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette sent cash considerations to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for infielder Brandon Wood on Thursday.

The 28-year-old will report to Triple-A Norfolk as he continues to plug away in a disappointing career that once held a tremendous amount of promise. Wood was Baseball America’s No. 3 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2006 season but has never been able to put it together at the big-league level.

In 700 career at-bats in the major leagues, Wood has a career .186 average with 18 home runs, 64 RBIs, and 218 strikeouts.

Back in 2006 and 2007 when the Orioles were exploring trades for shortstop Miguel Tejada, the Angels were often linked in discussions with Wood’s name mentioned as a player the club might covet in return. He became somewhat of a folk hero in the minor leagues by hitting 43 home runs and 53 doubles in his 2005 season split between high Single A and Triple A.

However, the talent that once made scouts salivate never came to fruition at the big-league level as the Orioles will now be Wood’s fifth different organization.

Odds & ends

Closer Jim Johnson picked up his 85th career save on Wednesday night. If he collects 21 more this season, he will move into second place on the club’s all-time list ahead of Tippy Martinez (105) and Stu Miller (100). Gregg Olson remains the Orioles’ all-time saves leader with 160. … Left fielder Nate McLouth has stolen 11 bases (second in the American League) and is on pace to steal 52 this season. That would be the third-best mark in Orioles history behind Luis Aparicio (57 in 1964) and Brady Anderson (53 in 1992). … The Orioles have the highest team fielding percentage (.991) in baseball in the 85 games since third baseman Manny Machado arrived in Baltimore on Aug. 9, 2012. … Since July 29, 2012, the Orioles have the best record in baseball at 62-33 (.652 winning percentage) as well as the best home record at 32-13 (.711 winning percentage).

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Your Monday Reality Check: Arrieta’s struggles make second guessing easy

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Your Monday Reality Check: Arrieta’s struggles make second guessing easy

Posted on 22 April 2013 by Glenn Clark

When you see a meme or GIF image posted @WNST on Twitter, it was regularly posted by me. I often know the source of the meme/gif or sometimes make them on my own, but regularly see one being passed around via Facebook or Twitter (I admittedly haven’t gotten involved in Reddit just yet but know it makes me a dinosaur) where the source cannot be identified.

So when I post them on our account, I’ll often say something like “take credit if yours.” It’s my little way of saying “I don’t know the origin of this, but if I find out soon I’ll be sure to offer credit where the credit is deserved.” Many times that leads to a direct response from the creator of said image which allows me to send out another message offering credit to the person who is deserving. It’s an imperfect science as we all continue to learn about social media etiquette, but it has proved effective thus far.

Sadly, there’s a well known idiom that dates back perhaps as much as a century whose creator seems unknown. I can’t imagine social media will be of any help this time.

The idiom is “hindsight is 20/20.”

It’s a very simply concept. 20/20 is nominal vision, as a person standing 20 feet from someone reads it as if they were standing 20 feet from the object. “Hindsight is 20/20″ reflects the notion that when you look back on something that already occurred, it can always be seen in ideal vision. I’m not certain what level of vision someone would be described as having in foresight, but I would tend to doubt it would even be as good as 20/40.

The idiom was fresh in my mind while watching Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Jake Arrieta crumble in the fifth inning of Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Arrieta walked OF Skip Schumaker and OF Carl Crawford on four pitches each, sandwiching a plunking of SS Justin Sellers between. The passes brought Arrieta’s BB total to five for the day (while recording only 12 outs). A Mark Ellis two run single would end Arrieta’s outing, his line would show five earned runs after being handed four runs over the first four innings by his own offense.

For Arrieta, the story has been all too familiar this season. In four starts, he has allowed 16 BB and 14 earned runs. The lack of control and elevated pitch counts have lead to the starter pitching an average of just under five innings per start (19 total innings pitched), however remarkably the Birds have gone 3-1 in the span.

Following Sunday’s start, O’s manager Buck Showalter described the pitcher’s issues as being emotional. “Emotions effect mechanics” the skipper noted, comparing Arrieta’s emotional state to putters in golf who struggle when overwhelmed. Arrieta described his lack of control Sunday as “frustrating”, “unacceptable” and flat out “bad”. He noted “this isn’t me…this really isn’t something I’ve ever done at this rate” in terms of free passes.

To his credit, he’s right. To his discredit, it doesn’t matter.

Showalter and GM Dan Duquette now have a difficult decision to make regarding their struggling starter. Arrieta still has options left, meaning they could make a move in the coming days to bring up a starter from Norfolk (they have a decision to make Wednesday already following their doubleheader Saturday). Such a move would perhaps allow Arrieta to get back to the AAA level and work on his control, but it would seem obvious that the starter would likely dominate a lower level of hitting.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Roberts still not back to baseball activity; Orioles-Rays lineups

Posted on 16 April 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed what was already assumed on Tuesday that second baseman Brian Roberts will not be activated from the 15-day disabled list when he becomes eligible on Saturday.

In Sarasota since last week, the 35-year-old is improving in his recovery from what the club has labeled a hamstring strain. Roberts tore a tendon behind his right knee in the third game of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays and has yet to resume baseball-related activities.

With Roberts shelved, 26-year-old Ryan Flaherty has handled the bulk of the work at second base, going 2-for-24 with one home run in seven games. Utility infielder Alexi Casilla has gone 3-for-11 when given his opportunities at the position.

In other injury-related news, pitchers Steve Johnson and Tsuyoshi Wada are each scheduled to throw in Sarasota on Thursday. If all goes well, Johnson could be sent on a minor-league rehab assignment as he moves closer to a return from the back injury he’s dealt with since March.

With Tuesday’s starter Jake Arrieta off to a poor start in his first two outings, the Orioles will be watching Johnson’s status closely as he could find an opportunity in the back end of the starting rotation sooner rather than later. Showalter expressed his wish that Arrieta simply provide the club a chance to win whenever he takes the hill, but the 27-year-old appears to be on a short leash already after allowing eight earned runs and six walks in his first two starts covering 10 innings.

“It doesn’t always follow a script like I’ve said too many times,” Showalter said. “Last year started out great [for him] and then had some challenges. Hopefully, he’ll get a little better each time out and give us a chance to win every time he takes the hill. We’re kind of living in the moment when he’s concerned. All of our pitchers are.”

Showalter expressed a desire for Arrieta to pitch deeper into games as he completed only five innings against Minnesota in the home opener and left last week’s start at Fenway that lasted five innings before a 43-minute rain delay ended his evening prematurely.

Here are Tuesday night’s lineups…

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

RHP Roberto Hernandez (0-2, 6.08 ERA)

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
3B Manny Machado
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Ryan Flaherty
DH Nolan Reimold

RHP Jake Arrieta (0-0, 7.20 ERA)

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Orioles officially place three more on DL to begin season

Posted on 31 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have officially placed three more players on the 15-day disabled list to begin the 2013 season after sending right-handed pitcher Chris Tillman there a few days ago.

Infielder Wilson Betemit (right knee ligament sprain) and pitchers Steve Johnson (right lat strain) and Tsuyoshi Wada (left elbow surgery) were sent to the DL on Sunday as the Orioles finalized their 25-man roster to begin the season. Betemit’s placement is retroactive to March 26 as the veteran hopes to return to action in six to eight weeks after suffering a torn PCL. Wada isn’t expected to return until late May or early June as he continues to rehab from last season’s Tommy John surgery.

Baltimore hopes Johnson can return soon and begin pitching for Triple-A Norfolk to begin the season after resting his back. He would be eligible to return from the disabled list next Sunday.

The club also selected the contract of outfielder Steve Pearce after he was informed by manager Buck Showalter on Saturday that he’d won the final spot on the 25-man roster.

Pearce’s addition fills the empty slot on the Orioles’ 40-man roster.

 

 

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Orioles’ 25-man roster set as Pearce grabs final spot

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Orioles’ 25-man roster set as Pearce grabs final spot

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have set their 25-man roster for the start of the regular season as outfielder Steve Pearce won the final bench spot on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Pearce beat out fellow outfielder Conor Jackson after both complete strong Grapefruit League performances. The right-handed batter will likely serve as the club’s designated hitter against left-handed pitching to begin the season.

As expected, manager Buck Showalter named right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta his fourth starter and left-hander Brian Matusz will pitch out of the bullpen to begin the season. Next Friday will mark the third consecutive time Arrieta has taken the hill in the home opener.

Utility players Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla and catcher Taylor Teagarden will occupy three of the club’s four bench spots to begin the season. Flaherty became all but a certainty to make the team following the knee injury suffered by corner infielder and designated hitter Wilson Betemit earlier this week.

The bench took a substantial hit after Betemit tore the PCL in his right knee as Showalter would have had either Betemit, Nolan Reimold, or Nate McLouth off the bench on a typical night, depending on the pitching matchup. However, Casilla provides a base-stealing threat while Flaherty will serve as the primary pinch hitter against right-handed pitching.

Showalter must decide whether he will keep Rule 5 selection T.J. McFarland in the bullpen beyond the first few days of the season after the left-hander was told he made the team to begin the season.

The 23-year-old impressed this spring but must remain on the 25-man roster in order to stay with the organization. The decision to send fifth starter Chris Tillman to the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 22) was made in order to buy time for the Orioles to either trade another relief pitcher or to work out a deal with the Cleveland Indians — McFarland’s original club — that would allow them to option McFarland to the minor leagues.

Right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson is expected to be placed on the DL as he deals with a back injury.

Teams have until 3 p.m. on Sunday to finalize their 25-man rosters for the start of the regular season.

Here’s a look at where the roster stands right now, including a projected lineup:

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

BENCH
INF Alexi Casilla
UTI Ryan Flaherty
C Taylor Teagarden
OF Steve Pearce

STARTING ROTATION
RHP Jason Hammel
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
RHP Jake Arrieta

BULLPEN
RHP Jim Johnson
RHP Pedro Strop
RHP Darren O’Day
LHP Brian Matusz
LHP Troy Patton
RHP Luis Ayala
RHP Tommy Hunter
LHP T.J. McFarland

DISABLED LIST
RHP Chris Tillman (will become fifth starter on April 6)
INF Wilson Betemit
RHP Steve Johnson
LHP Tsuyoshi Wada

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Five questions to ponder for Orioles spring training

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Five questions to ponder for Orioles spring training

Posted on 13 February 2013 by Luke Jones

The Orioles held their first workouts for pitchers and catchers to officially kick off spring training in Sarasota on Wednesday.

Trying to build on a 93-win campaign that included their first trip to the playoffs in 15 years, the Orioles have several questions marks after a quiet offseason void of significant moves.

Here are five questions to ponder as Baltimore begins preparations for the 2013 season:

1. Can Nolan Reimold stay healthy and be the impact bat the Orioles failed to acquire in the offseason?

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette failed in his quest to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat, but a healthy Reimold would go a long way in providing the extra offense the Orioles are looking for after they finished ninth in runs scored and 11th in on-base percentage in the American League last season. Of course, expecting Reimold to stay injury-free has only resulted in frustration over the years as the left fielder missed most of last season after undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

The good news is Reimold is already taking live batting practice and appears to be 100 percent for spring training as he will compete with Nate McLouth for the starting job in left field. McLouth is the superior fielder and has more speed, but few would argue Reimold’s ability at the plate as he hit .313 with five home runs in 67 at-bats last season.

The club could elect to use Reimold as the designated hitter more frequently to keep him healthy, and he would be an ideal fit in the No. 2 spot because of his plate discipline (a career .338 on-base percentage in 916 plate appearances in the majors) or in the fifth or sixth spot because of his power. At 29, Reimold appears to be running out of time as a viable option on which the Orioles can depend moving forward, but the club signed him for $1 million in the offseason and maintains control of him through the 2015 season.

Duquette didn’t acquire an established veteran bat and also parted ways with slugger Mark Reynolds, so this spring will be critical for Reimold to prove he can provide extra punch to the lineup. If he’s again unhealthy, the Orioles will be forced to lean more heavily on McLouth, who carries his own baggage despite a 2012 renaissance in Baltimore.

2. What will the starting rotation look like when the Orioles come north to Baltimore?

The starting rotation would appear to have a more definitive outline than it did as this time last year as Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Chris Tillman all put forth career seasons in 2012, but none of those four come without questions this spring. Concerns over Hammel’s knee were eased with his ability to pitch effectively in the postseason, but the Orioles hope he can replicate his first half last season when he looked like an ace and was included in the fan vote for the final spot on the AL All-Star team.

Chen and Gonzalez will need to prove their rookie campaigns weren’t flukes as the rest of the league will be more familiar with each and the latter’s 170-pound frame will always cause some to question his durability over a full season. Adjustments made to Tillman’s mechanics by director of pitching development Rick Peterson paid major dividends last year, but the 24-year-old will need to replicate that success over an entire season in the big leagues.

Even if those four pick up right where they left off, manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair must sift through a number of other candidates to replace the fifth spot in the rotation left behind by veteran left Joe Saunders, who signed with Seattle last week. Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Steve Johnson, Zach Britton, and Tommy Hunter will all be in the mix, but each comes with their limitations and concerns.

The Orioles continue to point to strength in numbers as it pertains to the starting rotation as 12 pitchers made starts for Baltimore last season. And to offer some perspective on how quickly things can change due to injury or ineffectiveness, three-fifths of the rotation that began the 2012 season landed in the minor leagues by the All-Star break.

The top four will have the inside track for rotation spots entering the spring, but Showalter won’t hesitate to make changes quickly if anyone isn’t up to the task.

3. Who will step up to play second base?

Yes, Brian Roberts is still with the Orioles as he enters the final season of a four-year contract that’s seen him play 115 games combined in the last three years. The 35-year-old infielder appears to be recovered from hip surgery and an offseason surgery to correct a sports hernia, but viewing Roberts as a viable option feels more like you’re being polite than at all realistic.

The Orioles acquired the slick-fielding Alexi Casilla off waivers from the Minnesota Twins after the switch-hitting second baseman played in a career-high 106 games last season. The 28-year-old is a career .250 hitter and provides good speed (21 stolen bases in 2012), but it remains to be seen whether he can handle full-time duties at the plate or he’ll be exposed over a bigger sample of at-bats.

The most intriguing option from an offensive perspective would be Ryan Flaherty, who split duties at second base with the departed Robert Andino at the end of last season. Thought limited defensively, Flaherty hit six home runs in 153 at-bats as a Rule 5 player who stuck on the 25-man roster all season.

Because of Showalter’s preference for strong defense up the middle, Casilla would appear to be the favorite to handle the bulk of the duties at second base due to Roberts’ frailty and Flaherty’s limitations in the field. However, this will remain a very fluid position to watch as the spring progresses.

4. How will Showalter handle the designated hitter spot in the order?

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Reaction to the passing of Orioles manager Earl Weaver

Posted on 19 January 2013 by WNST Staff

“Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball. This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans.

Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family.”-Orioles owner Peter Angelos, via a team release.

“Every time I look at an Oriole, it’s going to be missing a feather now without Earl.“-Orioles manager Buck Showalter 

“Earl was such a big part of Orioles baseball and personally he was a very important part of my life and career…and a great friend to our family. His passion for the game and the fire with which he managed will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere and certainly by all of us who had the great opportunity to play for him. Earl will be missed but he can’t and won’t be forgotten.”-Cal Ripken Jr. 

“I would say that Earl Weaver had the greatest impact on me as a baseball player-more than anyone else. He was tough to get along with and only cared about winning, but he is the reason why Oriole baseball is what is today. Earl was a genius and a Hall of Fame manager, and the closest that’s ever got to that is the man we have right now in Buck Showalter.”-Former Orioles catcher and MASN broadcaster Rick Dempsey.

“It’s a sad day for Orioles fans and all of baseball. Earl certainly was one of the greatest managers. To me, his greatest strength was his ability to get his players to focus on playing the game on a daily basis. The results were many wins, and a Hall of Fame career.”-Former Orioles OF Ken Singleton, who played for Earl Weaver from 1975-1982.

“O’s and MLB family lost a great leader yesterday. Earl Weaver wasn’t blessed with height but if u measured his HEART he was a 7 footer.

The man lived a great life. I think it should be a celebration. 82 years is a remarkable feat.”-Orioles OF Adam Jones

“[Earl] was a strange, intense but unforgettable man…a big part of my youth.”-Broadcaster and longtime Oriole fan Roy Firestone.

“It’s a sad day, obviously. Earl was a terrific manager and I have to be grateful that Earl was with us for the Legends Series and we got a chance to spend time with him for every single statue ceremony unveiling. He is terrific. His simplicity and clarity of his leadership and his passion for baseball are unmatched. He’s a treasure for the Orioles and we are so grateful we had the opportunity to work with him this year.” -Orioles Executive VP of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette

“Really sad to hear about that today.  He meant a lot to this city and to this organization.  You wouldn’t want to be anywhere else for today to spend all day with Oriole players and thousands of Orioles fans just to remember everything about him.” -Steve Johnson, Orioles Pitcher

“It was the perfect relationship. We won, he was tough, we got our World Series checks. It worked…you don’t ever forget an Earl Weaver. And not just if you were an umpire. Fans, players, everyone…Earl was about winning and that was what he did.

It’s a sad day for any of us that knew Earl but it’s also a sad day, I think, for anybody that has been involved with Orioles baseball. We were lucky to have him here because he did end up in the Hall of Fame. He managed some marvelous teams. But I think now we all share the pain of him being gone.

Earl never wanted to be your friend because I think he thought it would detract from his ability to be a manager.  But the one thing he did want to do — he let you know that he was loyal to you by putting your name in the lineup. You can’t really ask for much more than that.

One of the great stories is Mike Flanagan came up to me and said ‘One year you had pitched 5 innings. It was your second or third time out at spring training and you were running foul line to foul line. He (Earl Weaver) called me over to the bench and said you see that guy out there? And Mike said you mean Jim Palmer? He said yes, just do what he does and you will be fine here in the big leagues’. Mike would always tell me that and I almost wanted to call Flanny to tell him that Earl had passed away. But he (Earl Weaver) said if you do what he does things are going to take care of themselves. Couple of years ago up at the Hall of Fame, the night before the induction I told him that story and said one of the biggest compliments you ever paid me, not directly to me, was what you told Mike Flanagan.  He looked at me and said I just didn’t tell Flanagan, I told everybody…” -Former Orioles Pitcher Jim Palmer

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Showalter “Bucking” right choice for Local Sports Person of the Year

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Showalter “Bucking” right choice for Local Sports Person of the Year

Posted on 28 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

There were a number of great choices for WNST’s fifth annual “Local Sportsperson of the Year” in 2012.

Let me remind you that there are only a few qualifications for the honor.

First, the person must be local. They must be an athlete, coach or front office member for a pro, college or high school team in the state of Maryland. Individual sport athletes who represent the state of Maryland also qualify.

Second, the person must stand out from other people over the course of the 12 calendar months. The accomplishments of that individual must be comparable to if not greater than the accomplishments of others in the area.

And finally, that person’s year must stand out from other years during their tenure/career in the area.

If you’ve forgotten, 2012 is the fifth year we’ve given the honor, with our past winners being Michael Phelps (2008), Todd Bozeman (2009), Greivis Vasquez (2010) and Rob Ambrose (2011).

There were a handful of candidates whose 2012 accomplishments would make them easy winners almost any year.

-Loyola basketball coach Jimmy Patsos lead the school back to the NCAA Tournament after inheriting a program that could only be described as “in the doldrums.” The sweat equity Patsos put into building a MAAC Championship program is perhaps unmatched, as the coach spent almost as much time shaking hands and kissing babies as he did running drills until finally reaching the ultimate goal for a low-to-mid major program.

-Even with the success Patsos had, perhaps he wouldn’t even be deemed the most qualified candidate as his own school. Charley Toomey lead the Greyhounds to one of the most improbable National Championship runs in recent lacrosse history. The Hounds came into the season unranked, but ran off 12 straight wins to open the season and finished the campaign with only one loss-a one goal defeat and the hands of Johns Hopkins. The Hounds posted a dominant national title victory over Maryland to deliver the first national championship in school history (any sport) at the D1 level.

-Adam Jones wasn’t just the Baltimore Orioles’ MVP, an All-Star and a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012. He was the anchor of a team that finally snapped a decade-and-a-half long playoff drought and perhaps most importantly endeared himself to Baltimore baseball fans forever by inking a six year contract extension to ensure fans he wouldn’t be breaking their hearts by donning pinstripes in the next few years.

-Ray Rice is likely headed to another Baltimore Ravens Team MVP honor and also warmed the hearts of purple & black fans by signing a five year contract extension of his own. Rice picked up his third Pro Bowl nod while being the rock for an offense poised to break the franchise record for most points scored in a season and helping to claim a second consecutive AFC North title for the first time in team history.

Like I said, there were plenty of great candidates.

But when it came to picking a winner, Baltimore fans were right. It actually was quite easy.

Buck Showalter actually came just ONE POINT shy of winning this honor before. The 34-23 finish he guided the Orioles to in 2010 nearly nabbed him the award, and the contentiousness of the fighting between contributors here at WNST actually lead to a change in how we selected our recipient.

In a way, Showalter has essentially owned this town ever since his first game as skipper in orange and black. Fans swooned when he famously proclaimed “I know the save rule and, quite frankly, it doesn’t carry much weight with me. I like the win rule a little bit better” following his late inning handling of Mike Gonzalez and Alfredo Simon in a win over the Los Angeles Angels.

Perhaps even more admirably, Showalter showed immense class each and every time he was asked about the seeming reluctance for Orioles fans to return to Oriole Park at Camden Yards in droves after the misery that had experienced in rooting for an organization that seemed disinterested in returning a quality product to Baltimore. Even as the Orioles were in the mix for the AL East crown in late August in front of small crowds during a series against the Chicago White Sox, Showalter continued to say things like ”it would be pretty presumptuous on anybody’s part to think that they’re going to trust us that quickly”. He didn’t just save baseball in this town, he remained as classy as possible in the process.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Saunders Was Not the Best Option

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Saunders Was Not the Best Option

Posted on 05 October 2012 by Brett Dickinson

Tonight, the Orioles take on the Rangers in Arlington for their first playoff game since 1997. Buck announced his starter half way through the day on Thursday, as Joe Saunders takes the mound, in a win or go home matchup versus a team that has back-to-back World Series appearances.
This is all information that everyone from Southern, PA. to the Eastern Shore already know. But most do not know what kind of record the Orioles starter has going into this game at Rangers Ballpark. Though he has not pitched in Texas this season for Baltimore, he did spend the beginning of his career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Southern California, West Coast, Wichita (sorry went off on a tangent there). Six times Saunders has headed to Arlington with the ball in his hand, his record: 0-6, 9.38 ERA.

Now the options are limited for this game and Saunders does have the most (aka the only) playoff experience of any starting pitcher on the roster, but this could one of the few mistakes Buck has made all season (and it could be a huge one). The Orioles really can only look to a couple pitchers for this game, as Chen pitched Monday and has struggled the last month. Gonzalez has come up big in big games all season, but pitched Tuesday and they haven’t thrown him out there on short rest at all in his rookie campaign. Tillman is out, pitching Wednesday night (where he did not look good at all) and Hammel is just coming off the DL, so Buck cannot risk his season on a balky knee.

So the Orioles are left with Joe Saunders or Steve Johnson; not the best way to go into what could be the last game of the season. Most would look at Saunders stats noted earlier and think Johnson was the no-brainer, but he has knee issues himself and is another guy they limited all season long as a rookie. But there is one more idea, a rare occurrence in MLB, but does happen several times each season; a bullpen game.

Everyone knows the bullpen has been not only the most consistent, but strongest part of this roster, virtually dominant all season. With the amount of young arms they have moved from starters, these kids can throw their arms out for two innings in the most important game for Baltimore in a decade and a half. Hunter has reached 100mph on the gun since moving to the bullpen, while Arrieta and Matusz have been definitively better not starting games and Johnson may be able to go if only asked to hold down the first inning or two. Add on guys like Patton, O’Day and Ayala, who have been nothing short of spectacular all season, and the bullpen has the best chance to win this game.

If those seven pitchers get through seven, with the lead or keeping it close, Bird land will be in good shape for some Orioles Magic. With the back end solidified by Jim Johnson, who in all reality could give Buck two innings if needed, a close game is a win for the O’s (especially if you look at the statistics or have just paid attention to this team this year). For those worried about wearing everyone out, any pitcher out their will only go once in three days, as the first game of the divisional round will not be until Sunday.

So only time will tell whether Buck has made the only major mistake of the season but this could be costly one.

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Orioles place Patton on DL, recall S. Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 14 August 2012 by WNST Staff

The Orioles Tuesday announced that they have selected the contract of left-handed pitcher J.C. Romero and recalled right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk. Additionally, left-handed pitcher Troy Patton has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to August 13, with a right ankle sprain. To make room for Romero on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Miguel Socolovich has been designated for assignment.

Romero was acquired from the Cleveland organization yesterday. He will wear #48.

This will be the third stint with the Orioles this season for Johnson, who was optioned on August 9. He won his first major league start on August 8.

Patton is 1-0 with a 2.58 ERA (52.1IP, 15ER) and 48 strikeouts in 50 appearances for the Orioles this season.

Socolovich pitched to a 6.97 ERA (10.1IP, 8ER) in six appearances for Baltimore.

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