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Leyland's pick for top manager? Showalter & Melvin


Leyland's pick for top manager? Showalter & Melvin

Buck Showalter did an excellent job of guiding the Baltimore Orioles back into the playoffs. Bob Melvin had an equally fine effort with the Oakland Athletics.

So who should be the AL Manager of the Year? Both of them, Detroit skipper Jim Leyland said.

``Not to put the cart before the horse, but I hope that Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin are co-Managers of the Year this year,'' Leyland said before Detroit tried for a three-game sweep at Oakland in the ALDS on Tuesday night. ``I think if there's a year there should be two guys getting the award, this is the year.''

The award, chosen by voters from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, will be announced next month.

Melvin, in his first full season with Oakland, managed the A's to a 94-68 record. The surprising Athletics returned to the playoffs for the first time in six years. His erased a 13-game AL West deficit - including five games over the final nine - and overtook two-time reigning AL champion Texas on the season's final day.

The A's became the first team in major league history to win the division or pennant after trailing by five or more games with fewer than 10 to go.

Showalter, meanwhile, helped the Orioles end 14 straight losing seasons and four consecutive last-place finishes. They won 93 games to earn a wild-card berth and beat the two-time defending AL champion Rangers in a one-game playoff to advance to the division series against New York.

The Yankees and Orioles are tied one game apiece. Game 3 is Wednesday in New York.


BIRDS ON A BUS: Baltimore manager Buck Showalter was given an unexpected reminder of what it was like to travel in his minor league days.

The Orioles rode the bus to New York.

The alternate plans were needed when Baltimore's train stalled because of electrical problems along the line early Tuesday morning after beating the Yankee 3-2, tying their AL division series at one game each.

``The way I understand it, I think the train ahead of us, I think it was the Yankees, clipped something,'' Showalter said. ``Finally we just got on a bus, and it was about a 2 1/2-hour bus ride from there to the hotel here in New York.''

The Orioles arrived at 9 a.m. about three hours after the Yankees returned - also by bus. Both teams began their journeys shortly after 1 a.m.

This wasn't Baltimore's first brush with transportation problems. Less than two weeks ago, the Orioles team plane had smoke in the forward galley and had to be diverted.


FIRST PITCHES, FRANK-LY SPEAKING: Frank Robinson and Frank Howard - a pair of men with strong connections to Washington baseball - will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitches for Games 3 and 4 of the Nationals' NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Robinson was the first manager of the Nationals, guiding them through their initial two seasons in the nation's capital, 2005 and 2006, after having spent four seasons with them when the club was the Montreal Expos. The Hall of Famer get the honor before Wednesday's game, the first baseball postseason contest in Washington since 1933.

``It's cool. It'll be fun to get to talk to him and kind of poke at each other a little bit,'' said Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who was drafted by the Expos in 2004 and switched his uniform from No. 6 to Robinson's old No. 20 before this season as a tribute.

``When he signed up here, he had this in mind. He wanted to start something, and he did,'' Desmond added. ``He's got a stamp on this organization forever and I'm forever indebted to him, and I think D.C. will be also.''

Howard will throw out the first pitch Thursday. He played for the Washington Senators from 1965-71, hitting 44 or more homers in three consecutive seasons during that span.


A PRINCE, INDEED: Wherever, however, the Tigers found the money to pay slugger Prince Fielder's hefty salary for nearly the next decade, Jim Leyland has no idea.

And the Detroit manager doesn't much care - Leyland is writing him into the lineup each day now. Fielder is doing his thing to get Detroit back to a second straight AL championship series.

Still, hearing that $214 million, nine-year number caught Leyland's attention, all right.

``The first thing I thought was that we found a whole bunch of money in a short period of time, because we couldn't even sign a relief pitcher for a million dollars about a week before that,'' Leyland said Tuesday before Game 3 in Oakland. ``So, evidently we sold a lot of Little Caesars in a short period of time. And I'm damn glad we did. But it was amazing.''

Tigers owner Mike Ilitch is the Little Caesars pizza mogul.

With Fielder as the cleanup hitter following Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in the No. 3 spot, the Tigers have one of the most feared middle-of-the-order tandems out there.

It's a big risk to pitch around both of them, too.

``It's not an easy task,'' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ``You look at the numbers and they both have knocked in over a hundred runs and both of them hit 30-plus homers, so somebody is pitching to them. ... There are times you can't pitch around those guys and you have to go after them.''


THAT WAS FAST: If there was any sort of silver lining to be found for the Nationals after they lost Game 2 of their NLDS against St. Louis by a 12-4 score, perhaps it was the opportunity to get to see several relievers.

Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia lasted only two innings - the lefty was replaced on the roster Tuesday because he has a strained rotator cuff and inflammation in his throwing shoulder - so St. Louis needed five members of the bullpen to get through the game.

The one who made the biggest impression? Trevor Rosenthal.

He struck out three batters in the ninth, topping 100 mph.

``Rosenthal came in throwing 101 last night. That's absolute `fuego,''' Washington's Bryce Harper said. ``If you guys want to step in the box, you guys can go ahead.''

Said Adam LaRoche: ``A mop-up guy that throws 100? We were saying: `Where do they get these guys? You're kidding me.'''

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."


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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm