Manager Dave Trembley spoke for a lot of his players on Sunday, when he said he was glad the All-Star break had arrived but upset that his team wouldn’t get to carry forward its momentum. Baltimore has won four of its last five games and will head to the All-Star break with a 13-12-4 record in series played, if also eight games under .500 at 40-48.
“I’d like to keep playing,” said Trembley. ”My wife would like to have me home for a few days.”
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley had a little fun at reliever Dennis Sarfate’s expense on Sunday, when he relayed the details of the right-hander’s recovery. Sarfate, who threw in a Minor League game on Saturday, was right back at Camden Yards Sunday.
“I try to send him out on a rehab and he won’t go,” quipped Trembley. “That guy just keeps showing up.”
Sarfate is expected to throw in another Minor League game on Tuesday and may take the rest of the month to work back to full strength. The veteran was originally sidelined with a circulatory condition and is working in the Minor Leagues at 93 mph, which is a shade better than his velocity earlier in the season and a bit below his peak pitch-speed.
Chris Ray’s march back from tendinitis in his right biceps began with a small step on Saturday, when the erstwhile closer began a throwing program. Ray will go to the team’s Minor League complex in Sarasota to continue his program and edge back to health.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said the causes of the injury are still unclear.
“I asked him in Anaheim, and he just felt he was trying to get more movement on his pitches,” said Trembley of Ray’s sore arm. “I think he was trying to get up on top and got a little higher than normal. That’s what he told me.”
Ray, who missed all of the ’08 season while recovering from ligament replacement surgery on his elbow, is still trying to find the form that allowed him to log 49 career saves. The Orioles will bear with him as long as it takes, even if it means a demotion to Triple-A Norfolk.
Former Oriole Kevin Millar may not have been in Toronto’s lineup Friday night, but he did make a visible appearance. Millar came out with a mask and catcher’s gear in the middle of the second inning to help warm up Toronto starter Brett Cecil, and as he turned to lope back into the dugout, he was greeted with a warm ovation from the fans behind the dugout.
Adam Jones cited an unlikely hero Sunday, moments after learning he’d been named to the American League All-Star team. Jones didn’t reference a teammate immediately, although he would cite George Sherrill and Nick Markakis a little bit later. Instead, Jones paid tribute to his biggest fan, and someone who came by their allegiance honestly.
“It’s a cool honor to get to represent the Orioles and myself,” said the first-time All-Star. ”I’m pretty thrilled about it. I didn’t think I was going to go, but my Mom always said she was praying for me and kept voting for me. I guess all her hard work paid off.”
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley was asked Sunday if he’d given his players a motivational talk after Saturday night’s loss, a game that featured several misplays by the Orioles and 11 unanswered runs by Los Angeles. Trembley said he didn’t give his team any special message, but he did say that Nick Markakis came in to talk to him about a botched popup.
“To be honest with you, I think last night’s game ought to be something that’s self-explanatory from a player’s standpoint, not from mine,” said Trembley. ”I know I talked to Markakis after the game, and Markakis basically apologized to me and said he should’ve got the ball. It’s a real tough lesson to learn. I know this: I’m real big on integrity and respect for the game, and I think that needs to be reciprocated by the guys that are playing the game. As soon as you let that get away from you, things like last night happen, unfortunately.”
The Orioles played their 81st game on Saturday, a game that symbolized the official midpoint of the season. Several players thought that the team has played a decent brand of baseball thus far and lauded the rookies that have come up and made a difference.
“They’ve handled things pretty well so far, but there’s still a long way to go,” said third baseman Melvin Mora. ”You’ve got to know that when you get to the second half, that’s when all the veteran players pick it up. You have to be consistent all the way to the end.”
Manager Dave Trembley said that his main disappointment has been that his team has given away some games, a mark of inexperience. But overall, he’s been pleased with Baltimore’s progress and said that he can see the markings of a bright future ahead.
“I think we’ve all seen the emergence of what a year has made the difference with [Adam] Jones and how much better he is,” said Trembley. ”We’ve got [Matt] Wieters up here and [Nolan] Reimold, who didn’t make the club out of Spring Training.”
Manager Dave Trembley was asked for his opinion Friday of some of the advanced defensive metrics, which have consistently pegged some of his key stalwarts — specifically center fielder Adam Jones and right fielder Nick Markakis — as below average defensively.
Trembley, who’s more of a traditionalist, said he wasn’t aware of those numbers.
“I’d have to really take a look at what goes into the formula for determining that,” he said. ”I know Markakis leads the American League in assists right now, and Jones can run them down as good as anybody in center field. He possesses as good a throwing arm as anybody. I don’t know what qualifies them to rank where they do, so I couldn’t answer that other than what I see. What I see is two guys that I think are as good as anybody.”
Cesar Izturis may be back sooner than expected. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said Friday that there’s a “very good possibility” that Izturis may return from his bout with appendicitis in the Orioles’ last series before the All-Star break.
“I think he’s getting close to going out on a rehab,” said Trembley. ”I think he’ll stay with us through this series, and he may stay with us one day in Seattle. I haven’t decided yet. I want to check with [hitting coach Terry Crowley] and [infield instructor Juan Samuel].”
Trembley said that the Orioles aim for Izturis — who has been out since June 7 — back for the series against Toronto right before the All-Star break. Right now, all that’s missing is Izturis getting back on the field in a Minor League rehab stint to test his fitness.
“He took [batting practice] yesterday during the regular slot,” said Trembley of Izturis. ”And then we had early hitting today at 2:30, and he was one of the guys who came out and had more of an extended session so that he could hit from both sides.”
First-round draftee Brian Matusz continued his quick rise through the Minor Leagues on Thursday night, when he threw a seven inning complete game shutout against the Akron Aeroes. Matusz had as many strikeouts (six) as he allowed baserunners (six).
Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, started the year with Class A Frederick and went 4-2 with a 2.16 ERA and 75 strikeouts in his first 11 starts. Now, through three starts with Double-A Bowie, he’s 3-0 with an 0.49 ERA.
Despite his rapid success, the Orioles have no plan to promote Matusz to the big leagues this season. Matusz likely sit at Bowie all year, which should set him up for an extended audition in Spring Training and a starting point at Triple-A Norfolk.