Posted on: July 5, 2010 2:17 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 3:49 pm

Gonzalez, Pie nearing return for Orioles

Mike Gonzalez Mike Gonzalez was supposed to be a lockdown closer for the Orioles in a season where the club chased .500.

Unfortunately, Gonzalez allowed four runs in two innings then promptly went on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain. He began a rehab assignment in late June but showed decreased velocity. That velocity has picked up as Gonzalez goes through the rehab assignment and now has a cumulative 4.26 ERA in 6 1/3 innings across three levels of the farm system.

MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reports that Gonzalez will make three more rehab starts before consideration is given to activating the lefty. He will pitch Tuesday and then back-to-back on Friday and Saturday. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz previously said Gonzalez would not be activated until after the three-day All-Star break which starts Monday.

That leaves Gonzalez in perfect shape to join Baltimore Friday to host the Blue Jays.

In other injury news, the Orioles plan to activate outfielder Felix Pie from the disabled list. Pie was quite unlucky in suffering a back injury in mid-April because he would have received a ton of playing time ahead of Garrett Atkins and Nolan Reimold, neither of which are no longer on the major-league squad. Unfortunately, the Orioles brought up Corey Patterson who has been contributing to the team, so now Pie will have to battle for playing time in the outfield as well as scrap for at-bats at DH.

A former top Cubs prospect, Pie was hitting .400 (8-for-20) on the season and contributed a .266/.326/.437 line in 2009. Just 25, the potential is there for Pie to emerge as Baltimore's long-term left fielder over the second half.

Another top prospect for Baltimore, third baseman Josh Bell, left Sunday's game against Boston with leg cramps. While not in the lineup, he doesn't figure to miss any extended time although he may be the demotion of choice when Pie is activated.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: July 2, 2010 11:06 pm

Jones must play deeper in OF, Orioles say

Adam Jones It's time for Adam Jones to start playing deeper in the outfield.

Interim manager Juan Samuel along with outfield coach John Shelby met with the center fielder and requested he focus more on defense, especially moving back to cut off extra-base hits flying over his head.

"[We're] not singling him out -- it's a team," Samuel told the Baltimore Sun . "Those are the things we can control, those mistakes and we just need to concentrate and maybe have him play a little bit deeper."

The key here is that the organization has to request Jones make the move -- they can't tell him.

Why? Because players have control these days.

As ESPN 's Tim Kurkjian relayed while talking about how difficult it is to be a manager these days:

This spring, the Orioles told center fielder Adam Jones that he needed to play a little deeper, that too many balls had gone over his head in 2009.

Jones' response: "I'll think about it."

I'll think about it? If he said that to Ralph Houk 30 years ago, Jones would've been headed to the minor leagues that day.
To Jones' credit, he did try it out but didn't feel comfortable with the move. However, it seems clear that playing so shallow is harming the team. There's something to be said for playing out of your element and uncomfortably, but Jones needs to at least try it for a sustained period of time.

The talk came after Jones allowed two baserunners to go first-to-third without a determined effort to keep the runner from advancing.

"We're trying to get him to charge the ball and not assume that guys are not going to take the extra base on him," Samuel said. "We're trying to have him get behind fly balls and not assume that guys aren't going to tag up. We also made him aware that 'hey, we can go into a slump at home plate, but we cannot afford to go in a slump on defense.'"

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 1, 2010 3:48 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 6:28 pm

Power prospect Bell gets call from Orioles

Josh Bell Felix Pie was seen settling into his locker Wednesday night, leading to the assumption that he would be returning from his rehab assignment to take the Orioles roster spot of Luke Scott, who injured his hamstring during Wednesday's game and was headed to the disabled list.

Well, you know what they say about assuming.

As it turns out, the Orioles called up super-prospect Josh Bell instead, putting the third baseman in the lineup to make his major league debut against Oakland.

Bell, 23, is a 6-foot-3, 235-pound switch hitter with major power. He was acquired from the Dodgers last year at the trade deadline as part of a package for closer George Sherrill. In his first spring training game with the Orioles, he homered twice.

Bell was batting .266 for Triple-A Norfolk this season, with 10 homers and 44 RBI in 74 games.

Outfielder Pie hasn't played in the majors since April, coming back from a back injury. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles apparently didn't want to rush Pie, who is still working on throwing, just because of Scott's injury.

It's not immediately clear what the Orioles plan to do at third base, where Miguel Tejada is the starter and playing pretty well. They might just juggle things around for a few days until they're convinced Pie is ready, then send Bell back down.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: The Orioles are indicating that Bell may only be up for a few days, with Pie due back from the DL Monday. "We told him to not buy an apartment here," Orioles president Andy MacPhail told the Baltimore Sun.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 1, 2010 9:51 am

Fresh Pie on Thursday at Camden

Luke Scott Within hours of Orioles outfielder/DH Luke Scott suffering a hamstring injury Wednesday night, an injury that happened while he was rounding first base after hitting a go-ahead homer, his replacement arrived at Camden Yards.

Shortly after Scott's injury, the team contacted Felix Pie, rehabbing at Double-A Bowie, and told him to be ready to rejoin the Orioles if Scott needs to go on the disabled list on Thursday. Two hours after the end of the game, in which Scott's homer held up in a 9-6 win over Oakland, Pie showed up in the Orioles' clubhouse and started moving back into his locker.

That's a pretty good sign the Orioles expect Scott, who said Wednesday night he thought he'd miss about two weeks, to need to go on the DL. It's also a good sign that Pie is eager to get back to the Orioles.

Pie, who batted .266 with 29 RBIs for the Orioles last season, hasn't played since April 15 due to a torn back muscle. He wasn't due back for a few more days as he continues to work on his throwing, but the team can stash him at DH until he's ready in the field.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 29, 2010 11:49 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2010 1:03 am

How should Orioles deal with manager Samuel?

Juan Samuel The Orioles had their four-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night, but the squad has shown enough under interim manager Juan Samuel that Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun wonders whether Samuel is emerging as an option as permanent manager. Samuel is currently 8-14 as interim manager after the firing of Dave Trembley.

While Schmuck gives Samuel credit for helping engineer the O's turnaround and "staged a series of big comebacks that would have been unimaginable a month ago," Schmuck contends that the worst thing for the team could be for the club to respond under Samuel -- especially if the new manager steps in in-season.

"The franchise is at a crossroads where organizational credibility is as important as team chemistry," Schmuck writes. "The fans want to know that the Orioles are not stuck in some endless cycle of indecisiveness."

The problem with installing Samuel as the permanent manager is that it would be the third straight time Baltimore has fired someone in the middle of the season, assigned the manager an interim tag and then later remove the tab. Sam Perlozzo replaced Lee Mazzilli for the final 55 games of 2005 and then was handed his walking papers 69 games into 2007. Dave Trembley replaced Perlozzo and of course, managed until Samuel's takeover.

Say the club plays significantly better under Samuel than Trembley and then steps aside for the new hire in August or September. If the team nosedives, the Orioles will be the recipient of much pressure of having done the wrong thing. If the new manager was set to join the squad in the next few weeks, then the team could easily justify importing the manager immediately. But if the interviews draw out for at least one more month, it becomes questionable whether a third manager is the right move. President Andy MacPhail has already said that the search for the new manager will take at least several more weeks, so as Schmuck argues, it may be prudent for Baltimore to name Samuel the manager for the remainder of the season.

That may be the best-case scenario all around as it would allow Samuel a chance to audition for other teams as well as place the new manager in the best position possible to start fresh with the 2011 squad. MacPhail could then take as much time as he wanted to interview candidates and announce the new manager immediately after the season. If he so chose to announce the new hire in-season but keep Samuel in the bench, the new manager would be able to begin working on an evaluation and management process for 2011.

How the Orioles proceed from here will speak volumes about what kind of organization Baltimore is.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 28, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 3:02 pm

Atkins taking flight from Orioles

Garrett Atkins Garrett Atkins will not report to Baltimore's Triple-A club in Norfolk if he clears waivers and the team can't find a trade partner, he told the Baltimore Sun 's Jeff Zrebiec .

"I don't anticipate that being an option," Atkins told Zrebiec in a phone interview as he was getting ready to board a plane home to California.

Atkins was designated for assignment on Sunday so the team could activate Koji Uehara.

"There wasn't really any at-bats here for me, and when I was getting them, I wasn't very productive," Atkins said. "I think [the decision] was better for both ends. Just move along. Let's see if there's a spot out there for me on another team."

Atkins signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract in the offseason after the Rockies nontendered him.

The Angels could use a first baseman, but Atkins hasn't been productive enough for them to even take a flyer on the 30-year old. Atkins hit .214/.276/.286 for the Orioles. His best shot would be to go back to the National League (a la Pat Burrell), but he even struggled there last season in Denver, hitting .226/.308/.342 in his final season with the Rockies.

No matter what, the next uniform he dons is likely to be a minor-league one, just not in Norfolk.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: June 25, 2010 12:03 am

Orioles expected to DFA Atkins

Garrett Atkins may be designated for assignment by the Orioles to make room for Brad Bergesen and Koji Uehara, the Baltimore Sun 's Dan Connolly writes .

Atkins signed a one-year contract for $4.5 million in the offseason and has playing sparingly in the past month. He's hitting just .219/.282/.292 with a home run and nine RBI in 43 games for Baltimore.

Connolly also offers relievers Matt Albers and Frank Mata along with outfielder Lou Montanez as possible candidates to be cleared from the 25-man roster to make room for the two pitchers.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: June 24, 2010 8:54 pm

Orioles' star, owner do lunch

Nick Markakis So who gets the check between a guy making $6.75 million a year or the guy who can afford to pay a guy $6.75 million a year?

Either way, the tip better be pretty good.

Anyway, Baltimore's Nick Markakis met with Orioles owner Peter Angelos for about an hour-and-a-half on Thursday, the Baltimore Sun 's Jeff Zrebiec reports. And because it lasted so long, it was likely more than Markakis telling him he sucks.

"I wanted to give him my input and tell him the things I thought we lacked and needed, and what we needed to change," Markakis said. "He's completely open to anything. He was listening, and he was a lot easier to talk to than I anticipated. You know me, sometimes you’ll have a better conversation with the wall than talking to me. But it went a lot better and it was a lot smoother than I thought it was going to go. If I can strike up a conversation and talk to a guy like him who owns the team, I think it is a good situation."

Last week Markakis made his displeasure with the team known and wanted to talk to Angelos about it.

"I want to see this organization going the right way," Markakis said. "When you can get things turned around and in the right direction, this will be one of the best places in baseball to play. As players, as an organization, I think we owe it to fans and the people that are here to make that next step to show that we are willing and we do want to compete. We know we’re in the toughest division in baseball, we know what we are up against. Right now, our backs are against the wall. All our top prospects in the minor leagues are here. I think it’s unfair to put them in that situation where they feel like they have to go out there and do too much, and I think it’s showing. We need to address that and go from there."

Markakis is in the second year of a six-year, $66 million deal with a club option for 2015, so he's pretty much stuck there.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
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