If you’ve been wondering why most of Baltimore’s best relief pitchers haven’t thrown in a game, the answer has become readily apparent. Manager Dave Trembley said Saturday that he’s tried to get George Sherrill, Dennis Sarfate, Jim Johnson and Jamie Walker extra work on the practice mound, thus pushing back their timetable to pitch in games.
“With the extra week of spring training, all those guys we’ve held back,” he said. ”They’ve gotten their work in the back throwing simulated games or batting practice sessions.”
Trembley was also asked to clarify his late relief picture on Saturday, and he reiterated that Sherrill is his closer and that Chris Ray will still get scattered save opportunities.
“I didn’t want Chris Ray to think he was coming into camp and it was a tryout,” he said. ”I told George he was the closer on the team but he was not going to get every save opportunity. I did it for both guys. I didn’t want Sherrill to come in here and think he had to hurry up and get out there, and I didn’t want Chris Ray wondering what his role on the club was going to be.”
Brad Hennessey, whose sore elbow was originally classified as a day-to-day injury, will be shelved a little longer than expected. The right-hander won’t be able to pitch until the end of next week at the earliest, according to Baltimore manager Dave Trembley.
“Hennessey is probably going to be a ways away,” Trembley said Saturday. ”He got a cortisone shot today. He’s in a status where there’s no throwing for three days.”
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley passed on a high compliment to two of his team’s top prospects on Friday, when he said that Matt Wieters and Jake Arrieta are among the most polished youngsters he’s ever seen. Trembley, who managed in the Minor Leagues for 20 years, said that Wieters is likely the best position player prospect he’s ever been around.
And by way of comparison to another arm, he also had high marks for Arrieta.
“The best pitching prospect I’ve had was Kerry Wood, and I had him in A-Ball and Double-A,” he said. “I told people. I had Wood when he was 18, and [I'd say], “He ain’t going to be in the Minor Leagues very long.’ And you could just tell. He was a man. That’s what Arrieta is to me. He’s a man, right now. You can tell. …And that’s how Wieters is. He’s a man.”
Adam Jones was slated to start for the Orioles on Friday, but he got scratched after coming down with tightness in his right forearm. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley replaced him with Felix Pie and hastened to make clear that this wasn’t regarded as a serious injury.
“Obviously, all you guys saw that catch the other day and everybody thinks he hurt his shoulder,” Trembley said to the local media. ”I won’t lie to you. I’ll tell you the truth. He’s been doing a lot of throwing with [John] Shelby, long toss and this and that. He said his forearm is tight. I said to him, ‘Does it bother you to swing the bat?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m fine to swing the bat,’ but playing catch is tight. I said, ‘You’re not going. Just stay at home.’ “
Jones is expected to take batting practice with hitting coach Terry Crowley back at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Pie, meanwhile, has his next few days sketched out after arriving nearly a week late due to problems with his visa.
“Instead of putting him in the sixth inning, let’s start him and get him accustomed to what’s going on,” said Trembley on Friday. ”Give him a couple at-bats. I’ll try to get him an at-bat tomorrow, and then Sunday I’m going to take him to Viera. I think he’s earned that trip.”
The Orioles reached terms with several of their younger players on Thursday, most notably center fielder Adam Jones and right-handed starter Radhamez Liz. Jones will make $435,000 if he’s in the Majors and could earn a $25,000 bonus if he makes the All-Star team. Liz, meanwhile, signed a split contract worth $147,644 in the Minors and $402,500 in the Majors.
Baltimore also reached terms with relievers Kam Mickolio and Jim Miller on split contracts worth $65,000 in the Minor Leagues and $400,000 in the Majors.
Lou Montanez, who won the Triple Crown in the Double-A Eastern League last year, signed a split deal worth $76,188 in the Minors and $400,000 in the Majors. And finally, Wilfrido Perez signed a split contract worth $32,500 and $400,000 if he’s able to make the Majors.
The Orioles are excited to watch Koji Uehara’s stateside spring debut on Friday, and manager Dave Trembley said Thursday that the event is much bigger than an exhibition game.
“It’s a big day for Major League Baseball and for baseball fans throughout the world,” said Trembley in his pregame media briefing. ”Tomorrow is the first step in hopefully many more opportunities for something like this to happen. I know Koji is looking forward to it [and] we’re all looking forward to it. It’s going to be just a real fun thing to watch.”
Both starting pitchers from Baltimore’s spring opener against the Mets — Sean Green for New York and Brad Hennessey for the Orioles — left early with unspecified injuries. Green allowed two hits and a run in the first inning before exiting the game, while Hennessey worked into the second inning and allowed three straight baserunners before he got the hook.
Hennessey, who has been mentioned as a potential back-end rotation candidate, appeared to be running out of gas and control in the second. The right-hander loaded the bases on a four-pitch walk to inspire a visit from pitching coach Rick Kranitz, and moments later head athletic trainer Richie Bancells was summoned out to escort Hennessey to the clubhouse.
Hennessey was later analyzed with right elbow soreness, and the extent of the injury is unknown at this point. The former first-round draftee hasn’t had any X-Rays and doesn’t believe he’ll need a magnetic resonance imaging test at this point.
“In that second inning, my forearm was just starting to get really tight. I couldn’t get on top of the ball,” said Hennessey. “My location was going south in a hurry, and I was just trying to fight through it and finish the inning … but my elbow wouldn’t let me.”
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley came through with the quip of the day during his pregame media briefing Wednesday by responding to an innocent question about Matt Wieters.
Trembley had just been talking about his players slotting in at multiple positions, and he even opined that he’d like to see Wieters, a catcher by trade, play a little at designated hitter. And when he was asked if the phenom might also play first base, he answered emphatically.
“Never,” he said. “I’d like to keep my job a while. I don’t want him playing first base and then getting hit in the face. That would be ‘Bye bye, baby.’ “
Felix Pie swooped into Fort Lauderdale Stadium on Tuesday, one day after working out a snafu regarding his visa and six days after he was supposed to report. Baltimore’s left fielder looked like he was in shape and seemed relieved to join his new team.
“I’m happy and ready to go,” he said. “I was scared because they took my passport like that, but yesterday they gave it to me. I’m happy to be here and play baseball.”
Pie, a native of the Dominican Republic, was acquired from the Cubs this offseason in exchange for southpaw starter Garrett Olson. The Orioles hope his speed and defense will play well nestled next to center fielder Adam Jones and right fielder Nick Markakis.
The Orioles got their Spring Training slate underway on Tuesday, when they played a highly informal exhibition game against Team Italy that wasn’t even marked on the schedule. Baltimore had originally planned to play an intrasquad game but reconsidered at the request of Italian manager Marco Mazzieri, who is a friend of Orioles manager Dave Trembley.
Trembley let that friendship dictate his roster decisions, and he played a combination of lightly tested big-leaguers and highly touted prospects. Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman both pitched scoreless innings for the Orioles, and Matt Wieters started behind the plate.
Utilityman Donnie Murphy drove in the first run with a double, and Craig Brazell later made it a three-run game with a bloop single to center field. Baltimore will get its exhibition season started in earnest on Wednesday with a game against the Mets at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.