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Markakis proves he's the teams' most valuable


Markakis proves he's the teams' most valuable

In three weeks, the Orioles will ask the media to choose the teams most valuable player. During most of the losing years, the choice was usually fairly obvious, a player with gaudy statistics on a bad team.Yes, this year its different.For most for the season, the choice was a simple one: Adam Jones. He was last years Most Valuable Oriole and looked to be the first back-to-back winner since Rafael Palmeiro in1995 and 1996. Jones would still be a solid choice. He has a .284 average, 26 home runs and 68 RBIs. He carried the club offensively during its torrid first quarter when it went 27-14. Jones was rewarded with a deserved long-term contract, and dont forget, hes played every game.Hes fallen off some offensively, and went through the longest home run drought of his career, though his average was steady.A vote for Jones couldnt be argued with.Nor could one for Jim Johnson. The major league leader in saves, Johnson has converted 41 of his 44 save opportunities, and hes nearing the team record. The Orioles won two of the three games Johnson blew.Johnsons 2.88 ERA is deceptively high. He allowed 11 of his 18 earned runs in just two appearances. Johnson has converted his last 11 chances and has a 12 23 inning scoreless streak.Another good pick.A vote for Wei-Yin Chen with a 12-8 record wouldnt be a wasted one, either. In his rookie season in a foreign culture, Chen is the only starter to remain in the mix throughout the season.In recent weeks, another candidate has emerged: Nick Markakis.Markakis missed six weeks when he needed surgery to remove the hamate bone from his right hand. The Orioles were 16-19 without him, and were shutout six times.With Markakis in the lineup, theyre 59-40 and have been shut out just twice. The real payoff from Markakis began on July 13 when manager Buck Showalter decided he would bat leadoff for the first time in his career.Markakis batting average has improved from .256 to .300 and his on-base percentage, crucial for a leadoff hitter, has moved up from .333 to .367.During spring training when manager Buck Showalter contemplated a leadoff hitter, Markakis name didnt come up. He used Nolan Reimold until he was hurt, tried Robert Andino, Endy Chavez, Xavier Avery and even Ryan Flaherty before Brian Roberts came back.When Roberts was lost, Showalter turned to Markakis. In those spring training soliloquies, Showalter would say that a computer program says you should put your best hitter in the leadoff spot. It took him four months, but he finally did it.Showalter sold Markakis on the idea, saying hed be able to make up some of his at-bats missed during his injury.Its worked brilliantly. The Orioles are 30-19 since Markakis moved to leadoff.This was the first time Markakis was on the disabled list. In his previous five seasons, he averaged 160 games. While it may seem counterintuitive for a Most Valuable Oriole candidate to play in fewer than 130 games, Markakis showed how valuable he was by his absence.Showalter, who will get lots of attention in the Manager of the Year voting, will surely deflect attention toward his players. He won the award in 1994 with New York and 10 years later with Texas.
His Markakis move saved the season and campaigning for Manny Machados promotion was huge, too. Machado, whod barely played third base, has adjusted easily while holding his own at bat.Showalter will have competition with Chicagos Robin Ventura and Oaklands Bob Melvin.With three weeks left, Markakis could slump and Jones could get hot, and Johnson could amass 50 saves. That might change my thinking.For now, Markakis is the Most Valuable Oriole.NOTES:-The Sports Legends Museum will be presenting a book signing on Saturday. Marty Appel, a longtime Yankees executive and author of Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss, will discuss his book at 12:30 p.m.Julia Ruth Stevens, Babe Ruths 96-year-old daughter, will be on hand at 2:30 p.m. for stories and autographs. A block party, celebrating the Yankees-Orioles series featuring an all you can eat and drink event will be held between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets, which include admission to the game are 65. Fans who already have game tickets can attend for 36.

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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