Posted on: June 19, 2010 9:20 pm

Simon back as O's closer

Alfredo Simon is back as the Orioles' closer, Baltimore manager Juan Samuel told reporters, including the Baltimore Sun 's Jeff Zrebiec on Saturday.

David Hernandez converted his first two saves chances while Simon was on the disabled list, but then blew his third on Friday. Simon has pitched twice since coming off the disabled list (left hamstring strain), including 2/3 of an inning on Friday.

"When Simon came back, we said we didn't want to throw him right into the fire," Samuel said. "He's been gone for quite a bit. We wanted to make sure he got some innings, got the feel back and I think he's there right now. We aren't going to be switching back and forth. Like last night,  Hernandez was the closer in the game. He had to get himself out of that. That's the same plan we have for Simon. If he's out there to close, he's going to stay out there and try to close the game."
-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: June 18, 2010 3:19 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:24 pm

Orioles seeking experienced manager

Davey Johnson The Baltimore Orioles are making previous managerial experience a priority in their search for a new manager.

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports that the Orioles have bandied around former Orioles manage Davey Johnson's name, but an interview may not happen. Heyman says that Johnson is happy in his current position as an advisor with the Nationals and as manager of USA baseball, while some Orioles officials feel that it is not appropriate to look to the past as a solution.

Johnson helmed the Orioles during their glory days in 1996 and 1997, compiling a cumulative 186-136 record. He won the World Series as manager of the Mets in 1986. He hasn't managed in the majors since a two- year stint with the Dodgers ending in 2000.

President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has interviewed former Indians manager Eric Wedge and former Mets manager Bobby Valentine in a search MacPhail says may take the entire season or longer. MacPhail is also expected to interview Mets scout Bob Melvin, formerly of the Mariners and Diamondbacks. Buck Showalter will also speak to MacPhail.

Valentine has been one of the most sought-after managers in recent years after returning from a successful stint as manager of the Chiba-Lotte Marines from 2004-09. He has 13 years experience managing in the majors and took the Mets to the World Series in 2000. He has turned down other managing opportunities and seems to be waiting for the right situation. MacPhail admits that may not be Baltimore.

"Let's be honest, I'm not sure this gig's for everyone," MacPhail told Heyman. "We may have more interest in some guys than they have in us.''

Melvin and Showalter may not be as picky. Melvin was expected to be the successor to Jerry Manuel in New York before the Mets' recent turnaround that sees them a half-game out of first place, but Melvin certainly wants to get back into managing and was a catcher back from 1989-91 with the O's.

Showalter is an accomplished manager with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers on his resume. His tenure with the Yankees proved he can build up a team in a big city with George Steinbrenner breathing down his neck. He also has experience assembling a team from the ground up, being Arizona's first manager. Unfortunately for Showalter, his final year with both teams was the year prior to each team (1996 for New York, 2001 for Arizona) winning the World Series.

"He got the Yankees going, and he got Arizona going,'' a baseball executive pointed out to Heyman. "He's known as a control freak. But maybe they need some control over there.''

The Orioles are currently 30 games under .500 at 18-48 and are on pace to lose 118 games. Whoever takes the O's over will have quite a tall task on their hands, albeit with clear talent. Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman are future frontline starters while the offense boasts Adam Jones and Matt Wieters among its young nucleus.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: June 17, 2010 4:56 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2010 4:59 pm

Markakis unhappy with Orioles' direction

Nick Markakis Nick Markakis isn't happy about the Orioles' play of late, and the usually quiet outfielder had plenty to say about it.

"I know we have a lot of injured guys, we’re in the toughest division in baseball and we’re a last-place team. But at this point, it’s mind boggling," Markakis told the Baltimore Sun 's Jeff Zrebiec.

Markakis wasn't just talking about the team's disastrous 18-48 record entering play Wednesday. He had gripes about the team's overall approach, and wasn't afraid to finger himself as aprt of the problem.

“Sometimes, guys are going up there and it looks like they have no idea what they’re doing," he said.

"I’m not saying that to bash guys. I want guys to be successful, I want this team to be successful, and I have to produce as well. I'm part of this. But it takes a lot more than one big bat. ... You need guys in there who have a plan, who have a clue and who know how to execute that plan and get on base. "

Even though Markakis said he himself must produce better, he's among the best hitters on the team along with Ty Wigginton and Luke Scott. Markakis' .300 batting average leads the club, although he's suffering a mysterious power outage that has seen the former 20-home run man jack just three bombs all season long.

"You have to go up there with an approach. [Hitting coach Terry Crowley] has 110 percent nothing to do with the way we are going about our business at the plate and on the field right now," Markakis continued.

The O's currently rank 29th in runs scored with 214 and are closer to last place (Pittsburgh, 210) than 28th (Houston, 226). The club's on base percentage is slightly better, placing 27th but is just mere percentage points ahead of Toronto for worst OBP for an AL club. And of course, the Jays have their MLB-leading103 home runs sustaining them.

"You can point your fingers here and there, but it is what it is. You’re in the big leagues. You have to change your approach on your own. If you go up there clueless, you’re going to come back [to the dugout] clueless. It’s that simple."

Interim manager Juan Samuel and Wigginton, when asked about Markakis' comments, were in agreement about the team's poor offensive plan.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 17, 2010 1:10 am

Showalter to interview with Orioles

The Orioles will interview Buck Showalter next week for their managerial job, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Showalter hasn't managed since being fired by the Rangers after the 2006 season. He is a two-time American League Manager of the Year and has an overall record of 882-833 with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers.

The Orioles already have interviewed Eric Wedge and Bobby Valentine (with whom Showalter works as an ESPN analyst). Club president Andy MacPhail has said the team has no timetable for finding a permanent replacement for Dave Trembley, who was fired June 4.

MacPhail also says the team is looking for an experienced manager with a successful track record and postseason experience. The first three identified interviewees meet those criteria, but Kevin Cowherd wonders in the Sun why anyone with the profile the Orioles are looking for would take a job helming a lousy team with no indications that things are going to improve. The Orioles haven't had a winning record since 1997.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Tags: Orioles
Posted on: June 16, 2010 6:43 pm

Lincecum hit by liner, leaves game

Giants starter Tim Lincecum left Wednesday's game after he was hit by Miguel Tejada line drive to end the sixth inning.

Tejada's liner bounced off the back of Lincecum's right shoulder, bounced to a diving second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who threw Tejada out to end the inning. Lincecum rolled on the ground before walking off under his own power, accompanied by a Giants trainer. Jeremy Affeldt replaced him in the seventh inning.

Lincecum had thrown 111 pitches, so it may have been his last inning anyway. Lincecum went six innings, allowed eight hits, two runs, walked four and struck out 10.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: June 15, 2010 9:49 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2010 10:19 pm

Orioles send youngster Tillman to bullpen

Chris Tillman The Orioles will send top prospect Chris Tillman to the bullpen, interim manager Juan Samuel announced on Tuesday.

The move is temporary, as the Orioles have three off days in a 12-day span, so the club will not need a fifth starter until June 26. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said the struggling Tillman, along with Brad Bergesen, is a candidate to start on the 26th, according to the Baltimore Sun 's Jeff Zrebiec.

Tillman made his major-league debut in 2009, tossing 12 starts of a 5.40 ERA. He opened the 2010 season in the minors, where he posted a 3.12 ERA and 42/12 K/BB over 10 starts of 57 2/3 innings.

He hasn't been able to replicate his minor-league success in the majors, though, as he holds a 8.40 ERA through four starts. He's walked eight and struck out just seven, with the San Francisco Giants battering Tillman around in his last start on Monday. He hasn't had an easy road so far, also facing high-octane offenses in the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees.

The 22-year-old has experienced decreased velocity as well, averaging 90.9 mph on his fastball as opposed to 2009's 92 mph mark, according to FanGraphs.com.

Tillman might not even last until June 26th on the roster.

"It sounds like if Tillman isn't getting regular work by the time the team returns home [Tuesday, June 22], the club could send him down to Triple-A Norfolk so he can resume pitching regularly as a starter," writes Zrebiec.

Tillman's main competition for the start June 26, Brad Bergesen, was recently demoted to Triple-A after posting a 6.50 ERA over 10 starts and two relief appearances. The 24-year-old has made one start in the minors since the demotion and went seven innings, giving up two runs.

Zrebiec also adds that All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts' new timetable for returning is four-to-six weeks. Roberts has missed the entirety of the season with a herniated disc in his back and the timetable keeps being pushed back. The latest setback came on Monday when Andy MacPhail, president of baseball operations, said Roberts would be shut down for two weeks before resuming activity.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 15, 2010 10:58 am

O's could drop Tillman from rotation

Chris Tillman The Orioles have to figure out what to do with right-hander Chris Tillman after another disastrous outing Monday night. He gave up six runs in two innings to run his ERA to 8.40 with an 0-3 record.

Tillman was a key piece of the trade in which he and four other players, including outfielder Adam Jones, came from Seattle in exchange for Erik Bedard. With a high-command fastball and good curve, the 6-5 California native was projected by some as a front-of-the-rotation starter.

But Tillman's fastball hasn't had the pop it used to -- Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun said he never saw Tillman top 90 mph Monday night -- and he's lasted two innings or less in two of his four starts.

Samuel and Orioles president Andy MacPhail huddled after the game, usually an indicator that they're talking roster moves. The bullpen is overworked, so it seems likely Tillman, the fifth starter, is on his way out in favor of a reliever.

Another piece of the Bedard trade, left-hander Tony Butler, was released by the organization on Monday without ever appearing in the majors.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: June 14, 2010 9:00 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:23 am

Rangers seeking right-handed bat

Ty Wigginton The Texas Rangers have long been searching for a reliable right-handed bat who can come off the bench.

In the offseason, GM Jon Daniels thought he found his man in Mike Lowell when the Red Sox agreed to swap Lowell to Texas for catcher Max Ramirez and a hefty sum of cash to help offset Lowell's $12 million salary.

Even though that trade fell apart once it was revealed Lowell needed surgery on his right thumb, the Rangers haven't stopped their search.

Ryan Garko was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners and was so unimpressive, he was sent to Triple-A on May 14. Even calling up top prospect Justin Smoak to man first (with Chris Davis joining Garko in Oklahoma City) hasn't lessened the need for a backup right-handed bat.

Now, the Rangers have turned their sights onto Baltimore Oriole Ty Wigginton and Florida Marlin Wes Helms, reports Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram .

Both Wigginton and Helms (as well as Lowell) would predominantly play against left-handers, if acquired, filling a glaring weakness on the club. While Smoak's numbers against righties are more than fine (.283/.408/.485), he has just five hits against lefties, "good" for a .098 batting average.

Wigginton, 32, has bounced around several clubs and is currently with the Baltimore Orioles. Despite getting off to a fast start and being a strong full-time player for the O's, Wigginton has proved in his career thus far that his game is best suited to starting against lefties and being a top option off the bench against righties. Baltimore may want more than Texas is willing to give up, however, given Wigginton's strong start to the season plus his ability to play multiple positions.

That's where Helms, 34, comes in.

Helms has carved out a nice career for himself as a bench player, and has amassed at least 231 at-bats in each of his nine full-time seasons save for 2005 with Milwaukee. While he finds himself challenged by righties over his career (.712 OPS), he has no such qualms against lefties, cranking them to the tune of a .803 OPS. Helms would come at a lower price than Wigginton by virtue of age and production.

The cash-strapped Rangers may also prefer Helms' $950,000 salary on the year over Wigginton's $3.5 million. While the team works through the debts of owner Tom Hicks and the morass that is the sale of the team, Texas can't afford to take on much salary without the consent of the powers that be in the MLB offices. A report earlier today linking Roy Oswalt to the Rangers was debunked, largely due to the Rangers' inability to take on salary.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com