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Hardy still taking it slow with left shoulder

Posted on 10 April 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Beginning their 24th season at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Orioles hope the weather will cooperate as they host the Toronto Blue Jays in their home opener on Friday afternoon.

An overcast setting accompanied by a forecast of afternoon thunderstorms provided the topic of conversation, but the Orioles hope to continue their run of success in home openers at Camden Yards as they are 17-6 since 1992. Baltimore owns a 41-20 combined record in home openers dating back to 1954.

Though currently on the 15-day disabled list after suffering a left shoulder strain in late March, shortstop J.J. Hardy continues to make progress as the club hopes to send him on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment next week. On Thursday, Hardy took swings with a fungo bat and expressed no major concerns to reporters the following morning. The plan is for Hardy to swing once again on Friday — potentially with his regular bat or even hitting off a tee.

This is considered the final hurdle as his shoulder has responded well to all other baseball-related activity.

“We still have to take it day by day and see how I feel,” Hardy said. “We’re not putting a time limit on it, because it puts more pressure on it. It’s definitely getting better.”

Outfielder David Lough (left hamstring) is expected to play in an intrasquad game in Sarasota on Friday. Manager Buck Showalter said the plan is to send Lough to Single-A Frederick for a rehab assignment as early as Saturday, but the Orioles have left open the possibility of activating him from the DL this weekend.

Below are the lineups for the home opener:

SS Jose Reyes
CF Dalton Pompey
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
3B Josh Donaldson
C Dioner Navarro
1B Justin Smoak
LF Kevin Pillar
2B Devon Travis

SP Mark Buehrle (2014 stats: 13-10, 3.39 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)

SS Everth Cabrera
LF Steve Pearce
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
DH Delmon Young
3B Manny Machado
RF Travis Snider
2B Jonathan Schoop
C Caleb Joseph

SP Bud Norris (2014 stats: 15-8, 3.65 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)

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2015 American League East preview

Posted on 04 April 2015 by Luke Jones

No team has won the American League East with fewer than 95 wins since the 2000 New York Yankees won just 87 games in the regular season before eventually winning the World Series.

That 14-year run will end this season with the division showing more parity — and vulnerability — than it has in a long time.

Below is a capsule of the five AL East clubs in their predicted order of finish:

1. BALTIMORE (2014 record: 96-66, first place)
Notable additions: INF Everth Cabrera, OF Travis Snider, LHP Wesley Wright
Notable losses: OF Nelson Cruz, OF Nick Markakis, LHP Andrew Miller
Why to like them: The defense remains excellent, which will again transform a solid but unspectacular rotation and an already-strong bullpen into a pitching staff good enough to seriously contend.
Why to dislike them: Dan Duquette rested on his laurels by not bringing in a safer bet to replace either Cruz or Markakis, which puts much dependence on players returning from injuries.
Player to watch: Snider is a former first-round pick and is coming off an excellent second half with Pittsburgh, making him a solid candidate to be the Orioles’ annual surprising performer.
2015 outlook (89-73): I don’t love this Orioles club, but the Buck Showalter effect as well as bounce-back years from Manny Machado and Chris Davis will be enough to offset the void left behind by Cruz and Markakis. It’s tough to shake the feeling that 2014 was their last best chance to win a pennant with this core, but the Orioles don’t have as many glaring weaknesses or questions as their AL East foes.

2. BOSTON (2014 record: 71-91, fifth place)
Notable additions: 3B Pablo Sandoval, OF Hanley Ramirez, RHP Rick Porcello, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Justin Masterson
Notable losses: OF Yoenis Cespedes, 3B Will Middlebrooks
Why to like them: After struggling to score runs last season, the revamped Red Sox are primed to have one of the best lineups in baseball with dependable veterans and high-upside youth.
Why to dislike them: Four of their five projected starting pitchers weren’t on the roster a year ago and all but Porcello posted an ERA above 4.00 in 2014.
Player to watch: Center fielder Mookie Betts has raked all spring as teammates and observers have gushed over his potential at the top of the Boston order.
2015 outlook (87-75): If a similar roster were constructed 10 years ago, the Red Sox would be the overwhelming favorite to win the AL East with such an imposing lineup and they still might do it anyway. However, the current pitching-rich era in baseball makes you doubt an underwhelming rotation and a suspect bullpen. The pitching is what will ultimately prevent Boston from seizing the AL East title.

3. TORONTO (2014 record: 83-79, third place)
Notable additions: 3B Josh Donaldson, C Russell Martin, OF Michael Saunders
Notable losses: OF Melky Cabrera, INF Brett Lawrie, LHP J.A. Happ
Why to like them: After already scoring plenty of runs last year, the Blue Jays have a more potent lineup with the addition of an MVP-caliber player like Donaldson and the veteran Martin.
Why to dislike them: The bullpen is suspect and the rotation will lean on graybeards R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle while hoping youngsters Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris develop quickly.
Player to watch: The 21-year-old lefty Norris has plenty of talent and will begin the season in the Toronto rotation despite logging just 58 1/3 innings above the Single-A level in the minors.
2015 outlook (83-79): Nothing gets people going more about a club’s potential than talented young pitching, but it rarely comes together as quickly as you’d like. That reality along with a bullpen lacking the arms to consistently back them up will be the Blue Jays’ undoing late in the season as they fade behind Baltimore and Boston.

4. TAMPA BAY (2014 record: 77-85, fourth place)
Notable additions: OF Steven Souza, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, OF/C John Jaso
Notable losses: UTI Ben Zobrist, OF Wil Myers, RHP Jeremy Hellickson
Why to like them: If they’re able to overcome some early injury concerns, the Rays probably have the best starting rotation in the division, which will keep them competitive.
Why to dislike them: Offense was always a weakness even in their best years, but no one scares you at all in the current lineup except for third baseman Evan Longoria.
Player to watch: The 25-year-old Souza shows promise, but the Rays desperately need the offensive success he enjoyed at Triple-A Syracuse last season to carry over with his new club.
2015 outlook (80-82): The overall makeup of this division would have screamed for you to bet on the underdog Rays in past years, but that was before the departures of manager Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman. With starting pitchers Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Matt Moore currently on the mend, the Rays will lag behind in the division early before improving as the year continues.

5. NEW YORK (2014 record: 84-78, second place)
Notable additions: SS Didi Gregorius, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Nathan Eovaldi
Notable losses: RHP Hiroki Kuroda, RHP David Robertson, SS Derek Jeter
Why to like them: The upside of starting pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda speaks for itself if they can stay healthy.
Why to dislike them: Old, injury-prone, and expensive is no way to go through a 162-game season, which is exactly what the Yankees are trying to do at this point.
Player to watch: Reliever Dellin Betances is coming off a terrific season, but his velocity is down and his command has been poor this spring, which will cause him to share closer duties with Miller early on.
2015 outlook (78-84): The names you’ll find up and down the Yankees’ lineup would have had you salivating in 2011, but age and injuries will put too much pressure on a starting rotation praying that Tanaka’s elbow holds up and the 34-year-old Sabathia bounces back from knee surgery. The Yankees won’t be awful, but they will finish in last place for the first time since 1990.

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Is Duquette now a lame duck for 2015 season?

Posted on 27 January 2015 by Luke Jones

The story has apparently ended with both sides pretending there’s nothing to see here.

The Toronto Blue Jays announced they’re keeping president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston before he retires at the end of the 2015 season while Dan Duquette remains under contract with the Orioles through 2018. We’re to believe everything is fine after a seven-week saga of rumors, reports, and deafening silence involving both American League East foes.

Blue Jays chairman Edward Rogers broke his silence Monday without addressing why he reportedly pursued Beeston’s replacement without alerting the longtime executive of his intentions. Meanwhile, we’ve yet to hear from Duquette or Orioles owner Peter Angelos since Toronto announced a one-year contract extension for their current president.

“We have been in discussions with Paul about his future with the team since his contract expired in October,” Rogers said in a release. “There were many rumors flying about, but it would have been inappropriate to comment on such matters publicly. Make no mistake — we are elated to have Paul continue to lead the team for this season.”

In the coming days, we’ll hear Duquette state his commitment to the Orioles — perhaps at Saturday’s FanFest in front of thousands of fans — and how he’s dedicated to bringing another winner to Baltimore, but will anyone believe him after weeks of declining comment on the Toronto situation? Yes, Angelos and the Orioles dug their heels in when it came to compensation and won, but you wonder if it still results in a losing outcome with a man in charge who doesn’t have his heart in Baltimore.

Make no mistake, the Blue Jays handled this poorly in not only disrespecting Beeston — a man who became the first employee of the expansion team in 1976 — but also ignoring the decorum of how to pursue another club’s employee, which doesn’t include trying to poach the executive vice president of baseball operations in the middle of an offseason.

Toronto put the Orioles in a terrible spot and expecting compensation was more than understandable, but asking for a package of three top prospects — an absurd return in relation to similar front office transactions in recent years — with the thought that it would prompt the Blue Jays to back off was shortsighted as it relates to Duquette’s future in Baltimore. His contract suggests he’ll remain with the Orioles for the next four seasons, but the events of the last two months make it look like Duquette could be a lame duck for the 2015 season, especially if the Blue Jays come calling again after the season.

Is the 56-year-old really invested in the Orioles after seeing a sparkling promotion dangled in front of him for weeks?

Are the reports of some in the organization preferring that Duquette be allowed to leave simply forgotten?

Have Duquette’s relationships with Angelos, manager Buck Showalter, and other front office members suffered irreparable harm?

Those questions don’t even address how little the Orioles have done this offseason after losing outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis and top reliever Andrew Miller in free agency. Duquette’s approach hasn’t exactly been a high-profile or aggressive one in his four-year tenure with the club except for the signings of pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and Cruz during last year’s spring training, but his lack of activity casts doubt as the Orioles try to build on last season’s AL Championship Series appearance.

One of the reasons why the Orioles have experienced three straight winning seasons has been Angelos’ trust in Duquette and Showalter in recent years. With the 85-year-old owner mentioning Duquette’s contract and commitment on more than one occasion over the last two months, you wonder how much Angelos now trusts the man he rescued out of baseball purgatory a few years ago.

Even with the losses suffered this offseason, the Orioles remain serious contenders in the AL East and are led by one of the best managers in baseball.

But it’s difficult not to feel like Duquette has one foot out the door — even if his current title and contract suggests otherwise.

And that’s not a good place to be for a club and a fan base with championship aspirations.


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Toronto reportedly ends pursuit of Duquette

Posted on 25 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Has the Dan Duquette saga finally reached its end?

According to a report from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, the Toronto Blue Jays have ended their pursuit of the executive vice president of baseball operations after the Orioles wouldn’t budge on their demand for 2014 first-round pitcher Jeff Hoffman and two other top prospects as compensation in a deal. News first broke of Toronto’s interest in Duquette becoming their chief executive officer and president seven weeks ago, but owner Peter Angelos had repeatedly stated that he expected his top front office man to fulfill his contractual obligation with the Orioles.

There had been conflicting reports in recent days that the sides were moving closer to an agreement, but the Orioles’ demands were quite lucrative in comparison to the modest deals involving executives in recent history. Of course, the organization didn’t take too kindly to a division rival attempting to poach Duquette in the middle of a critical offseason in which the Orioles are attempting to build on their 2014 American League East title.

Duquette remains under contract with the Orioles through the 2018 season, but his silence over the last several weeks made it clear that he was interested in accepting the promotion with the Blue Jays. With the story having stretched out for so long, it’s fair to question if Duquette remaining with the Orioles is really what’s best for the organization at this point if his heart is in another job.

Of course, nothing would appear to be stopping the Blue Jays from re-engaging in talks, at least until we hear from any of the involved parties publicly.

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Duquette story moving closer to its conclusion?

Posted on 24 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Opinions and reports vary on the future of Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, but this much has become abundantly clear about the story that’s now seven weeks old.

It needs to end.

There appears to be growing optimism about a deal being consummated with the Toronto Blue Jays that would allow Duquette to become their new president and chief executive officer. But we’ve heard this before and reports in recent days have painted different pictures of how imminent an agreement might be.

Of course, a deal won’t be official until we see Duquette formally introduced as the new boss in Toronto as compensation continues to be the biggest obstacle. According to ESPN, Toronto’s 2014 first-round pick and right-handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman has been discussed and would be a lucrative return in exchange for an executive compared to similar transactions completed in recent years.

But would one top prospect be enough for the Orioles and owner Peter Angelos? And are the Blue Jays willing to part with premium talent simply to hire a front office man, albeit a successful one?

There is some speculation that the Blue Jays could — and should — walk away from Duquette, but you wonder if that would be the best outcome for the Orioles at this point as the 56-year-old’s silence on the situation speaks volumes about his desire to go to Toronto. Trust will undoubtedly be a concern should Duquette remain with the Orioles.

Whatever the outcome, the Orioles would be wise to have a resolution in time for next Saturday’s FanFest in which Duquette has annually participated in fan forums. The saga has been disruptive for an organization trying to build on its 2014 American League East title this offseason, but it would be embarrassing for Duquette’s uncertain future to be out in the open for fans to see — and question.

It isn’t over until it’s over, but the developments of the last few days create hope that this matter will be closed sooner rather than later.

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Orioles need resolution in Duquette saga

Posted on 15 January 2015 by Luke Jones

It’s the story that won’t go away and it’s not a good one for the Orioles.

Nearly six weeks after reports first surfaced about executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette being targeted to become the new president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Blue Jays — and owner Peter Angelos fired back by saying the Orioles wouldn’t relinquish their contract running through 2018 — multiple outlets reported Wednesday that the sides were negotiating compensation and moving closer to an agreement. Angelos again responded by saying Duquette wasn’t going anywhere, creating more confusion about what will happen next.

“That is not going to happen. There have not been any changes in the status of Dan Duquette,” Angelos said to The Sun. “He is our GM and he is going to remain our GM. He is concentrating on his efforts to determine the composition of our team for 2015. That is the answer. Period.”

As was the case in early December, it’s easy to understand both sides’ perspective and wonder how much trust remains, but how much longer can this saga continue? Even with a contract in place, are the Orioles benefiting from continuing to employ a head baseball man who appears to have his heart in another place?

It’s time to ask Duquette point-blank whether he’s in or out.

Trying to analyze Duquette’s work in what’s been a lackluster offseason is difficult due to his unorthodox style that was on display in each of the previous three winters, but it’s becoming easier to question how diligently he’s tried to improve his current club with the reports linking him to Toronto not going away.

Angelos and the Orioles have every right to be unhappy with the timing of this pursuit and should be concerned with an American League East rival trying to poach their general manager. They’re certainly entitled to seek as much compensation as they can before seriously entertaining the thought of letting him go.

But at what point does the fight to keep him become counterproductive to the future of the organization?

If Duquette is no longer committed to the Orioles, it makes little sense to remain committed to him.

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Orioles agree to minor-league deal with catcher Arencibia

Posted on 08 January 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles made one of their most notable additions of an all-too-quiet offseason Thursday with the announcement of a minor-league agreement with veteran catcher J.P. Arencibia.

The deal includes an invitation to spring training for the former Toronto Blue Jay and Texas Ranger who has also played a limited number of games at first base. The 29-year-old is a career .207 hitter with 74 home runs and a .658 on-base plus slugging percentage in five major league seasons.

Arencibia spent the first four seasons of his major league career in Toronto after he was selected in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Blue Jays. In his lone season with the Rangers in 2014, Arencibia hit only .177 in 222 plate appearances and spent part of the season in the minors.

With backup catcher Nick Hundley signing a two-year deal with Colorado and Matt Wieters’ status for Opening Day still unclear, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette had wanted to add another catcher to the mix for spring training.

Arencibia’s best major league season came in in 2011 when he hit .219 with a career-high 23 homers and a .720 OPS.

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Report: Blue Jays team president staying put for 2015 season

Posted on 09 December 2014 by Luke Jones

It appears the uncertainty surrounding Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was all for nothing.

According to the Toronto Sun and FOX Sports, Toronto Blue Jays team president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston will remain in the position through the 2015 season. The news likely means the Orioles can rest easy about Duquette, who was reportedly interested in the job and viewed as a top candidate.

It remains unclear why news of potential replacements for the Blue Jays position was floated, but Orioles owner Peter Angelos made it clear Sunday that he expected Duquette to honor his current contract that runs through the 2018 season. Duquette reiterated Monday that he was under contract and representing the Orioles at the winter meetings, but he didn’t go out of his way to squash reports of his potential interest in joining the Blue Jays.

Beeston has spent large stretches of the last four decades working in the Blue Jays organization, serving as CEO from 1991 through 1997 and then returning to Toronto in the same capacity in 2008 after a five-year stint as the chief operating officer of Major League Baseball.

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Report: Duquette wants to leave Orioles to become Blue Jays president/CEO

Posted on 07 December 2014 by Luke Jones

What’s already been a difficult offseason for the Orioles could become much worse.

Multiple outlets are reporting executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is a candidate to become the president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Blue Jays. Duquette wants to take the position with only owner Peter Angelos standing in the way, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The 56-year-old is under contract through the 2018 season and helped guide the Orioles to their first two playoff appearances and first American League East title since 1997. However, it could be difficult for the organization to stand in his way from a pragmatic standpoint if his heart is truly in running another organization.

Angelos made it clear to MASNSports.com that he has no intention of letting Duquette jump ship.

“They would have to contact us and ask if we’re willing to relinquish him,” Angelos said in the interview. “We’re not relinquishing him, period. He’s signed for four more years, and we’re delighted by the team’s performance. We intend for him to remain for the next four years. We’re satisfied with him, obviously.”

Baltimore would likely seek compensation from the Blue Jays if Duquette were to be allowed to leave.

The Orioles have already lost outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis and left-handed reliever Andrew Miller in free agency this offseaosn, but Duquette’s departure would be a stunning blow for an organization that appeared to turn a corner following 14 consecutive losing seasons. Duquette was recognized as the executive of the year by Sporting News and Baseball America after the Orioles won 96 games to run away with the division title.

Duquette previously served as the general manager for the Montreal Expos from 1991 through 1994 and for the Boston Red Sox from 1994 through 2002. He has often spoken fondly of the late Harry Dalton, who once served as Orioles general manager and gave Duquette his start as a scouting assistant with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1980.

The executive addressed the rumors on MLB Network Radio after he arrived in San Diego for the winter meetings.

“Well, I’m with the Orioles, OK?” he said. “I’m here to represent the Orioles at the meetings, and I don’t really have anything to add other than that. These rumors, they come up in the industry all the time and I don’t spend a lot of time speculating on the rumors and I’m not in a position to do that here, either.

“And I do have a contract, and I’ve always honored my contract, so I appreciate the interest, and I don’t have anything else to add.”

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Former Oriole Reimold claimed off waivers by Blue Jays

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Nolan Reimold was claimed off outright waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday.

The claim ends a week of speculation about the outfielder’s future. The Baltimore Orioles had activated Reimold from the 60 day disabled list (back) earlier in the week and designated him for assignment. After failing to be able to trade him, the Birds placed Reimold on outright waivers Friday.

The Blue Jays will be on the hook for the remainder of his $1.025 million salary this season.

Reimold’s Baltimore tenure ends after his most recent trip to the DL came following spine fusion surgery in the spring. This surgery was the most recent in a line of health-related issues for the Bowling Green alum. After being sidelined by an oblique strain and achilles tendon fraying early in his career, Reimold’s most significant issues began in 2012. He previously had surgery for a herniated disc in June 2012 that shortened his season, he was forced to have corrective surgery just a year later to fix the previous procedure.

Since arriving in the big leagues in 2009, Reimold played in just 286 games (all with the Orioles). He hit .252/.327/.439 with 41 home runs and 126 RBI in the span.

The O’s appeared to view Reimold as expendable in part due to a glut of right handed hitting outfielder/designated hitter/first base types on the major league roster. Manager Buck Showalter has struggled to find regular playing time for hot hitting Delmon Young due to Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce’s outstanding success to start the season as well.

CRUZ RESPONDS: Speaking of Cruz, he responded to comments made about him Saturday night by Red Sox pitcher John Lackey when speaking to reporters pre-game Sunday.

After the left fielder went 5-5 and came just a triple short of the cycle Saturday night, Lackey said “I’m not even going to comment on him. I’ve got nothing to say about him. There’s things I would like to say, but I’m not going to.”

The starter was clearly referring to Cruz’s 50 game suspension in 2013 related to PED’s and his relationship with Biogenesis.

Cruz was asked about the comments by reporters Sunday, saying “people can say whatever they want. It’s part of being free. I don’t have any comments about that,” according to CSNBaltimore.com. “What I care about is my teammates and what they think about me.”

He added “everybody is free to talk. What I care about is what I’m doing here.”

Showalter also addressed the comments in his pre-game chat with reporters, saying “you consider sources of people and some of their emotions after the game, whether it be a player’s comment or a manager’s comment or some fan’s comment. You understand that nobody makes those comments after they pitched a complete game shutout or Nelson is 0-for-5. It’s human nature. We need to all make sure we check our own backyard before we start looking at someone else’s,” also according to CSNBaltimore.com.

NOTES: Showalter re-affirmed to reporters in Boston that Bud Norris (groin) came out of his simulated game Saturday well and is expected to start Tuesday or Wednesday against the Washington Nationals. The Baltimore Sun reported the team is leaning towards Tuesday to get him an extra start before the All-Star break…MLB.com reports Sunday starter Kevin Gausman is not guaranteed to make another start before the All-Star break, saying the Birds could send him back down to get another reliever before the final week of the first half of the season…Slumping first baseman Chris Davis did not start Sunday as Showalter decided to give him a day of rest. Davis came into the day with just two hits in his last 34 at-bats


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