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Oakland's Anderson returns from elbow surgery

Oakland's Anderson returns from elbow surgery

Brett Anderson endured grueling workouts, lost 20 pounds and pushed through the challenging rehab for elbow-ligament replacement surgery with one thing in mind: getting back on the Oakland mound for a meaningful game.

He's got it, all right. The Athletics left-hander will start Game 3 of the AL division series at home Tuesday night against the Detroit Tigers with his team down 2-0 and trying to stave off elimination.

At 24 years, 251 days, Anderson will become the fifth-youngest pitcher in Oakland history to make his first career postseason start.

Just when he got on a roll in six starts after returning from a 14-month absence in August, he strained his right oblique muscle after landing awkwardly at Detroit on Sept. 19.

``It wasn't ideal getting hurt again,'' Anderson said. ``But I feel good, and the postseason, who knows when we're going to get back here. You'd like to say you're going to get back here again.''

Manager Bob Melvin said the game and Anderson would dictate how long he pitches, though pitching coach Curt Young said it likely would be around an 80-pitch count.

``Not too many limitations,'' Melvin said. ``Adrenalin kicks in and sometimes you have more in the tank than you normally would after a little bit of time off.''

The A's had gotten by with an all-rookie rotation minus Anderson, opening day starter Brandon McCarthy - who needed brain surgery after taking a line drive to the head Sept. 5 - and lefty Dallas Braden as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

``It really ruins our rookie starting pitching streak,'' teammate Jonny Gomes joked. ``One less historic thing we can do this year.''

Anderson lost more than 20 pounds from his previous playing weight of 248 - and noticed he felt stronger late in games during his minor league rehab appearances.

Anderson, a second-round draft pick by Arizona in 2006, went 7-6 with a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts during 2010, then 3-6 with a 4.00 ERA in 13 starts last year.

He is eager to put the injuries behind him for good and regain his top form - again.

``If he feels good and he comes back and throws the way he's capable of, then he's the guy to have out there,'' closer Grant Balfour said. ``He has great stuff.''


SIMPLY THE BEST: Orioles manager Buck Showalter often marvels at the fashion in which 26-year-old Matt Wieters performs behind the plate.

``He does something every night where I just kind of go, `That's pretty special,''' Showalter said Monday, hours before Baltimore faced the New York Yankees. ``Best catcher I've ever had. I'm lucky to have had him pass my way.''

Wieters put his deft glovework on display in the series opener, snaring a tricky throw from second baseman Robert Andino before slapping the tag on Russell Martin trying to score from third base.

``The play he made last night on the short-hop from Robert, a lot of people I'm sure think that's easy,'' Showalter said. ``That's a remarkable play, but fortunately we get to see something like that every night. ... Every once in a while you have to remind yourself how old he is.''

Wieters is a two-time All-Star and a Gold Glove winner, but none of that compares to being in the postseason.

``What's been so great about this year is you don't have to worry about individual accolades or individual awards,'' Wieters said. ``This is what everybody in the clubhouse wants to play for. It's nice to get honored by your peers and get honored by people in the game, but at the same time you're playing for the playoffs, playing for a ring, and that's ultimately what you want your career to sort of be based on.''


DOUBLE SWITCH: Rookie Cardinals manager Mike Matheny takes offense to the notion Davey Johnson boxed him into a corner before the game-deciding, two-run single by pinch-hitter Tyler Moore in their division series opener.

``Dictated to?'' Matheny said before Game 2. ``They won, so he apparently did.''

Matheny lifted setup man Mitchell Boggs with two outs and runners on second and third in the eighth after Johnson sent left-handed-hitting Chad Tracy up to pinch hit, opting for lefty Marc Rzcepczynski. Johnson switched to Moore, a rookie who hit two of the Nationals' three pinch homers, and Moore came through by reaching out for an outside pitch and poking a two-run single to right for a 3-2 lead.

Matheny was happy with the matchup, which just didn't work out. Now, he's getting a taste of postseason second-guessing.

``People can look at it any way they want,'' Matheny said. ``I've got to tell you, plan and simple, I have faith in Zep getting him out. It does come all come down to results, but I have faith in my guy to get the job done. And you know what, he made a pretty good pitch, too. It's not like he went out there and served it up.''

Johnson preferred Tracy but was happy with the alternative, too, and told Tracy that if Matheny went to the lefty he'd be making a change, too.

``I actually did not think that Mike was going to get Boggs,'' Johnson said. ``I'd rather have the veteran player in that situation than a rookie, but rookies have been having success all year.''


YOUTH MOVEMENT: Cardinals rookie shortstop Pete Kozma has been a magnet for controversy the first two postseason games, backing off on the infamous infield fly in the one-game playoff against the Braves and then booting a backhand attempt on a grounder for an error that fueled the Nationals' go-ahead two-run eighth in Game 1.

Manager Mike Matheny could have inserted veteran Skip Schumaker at second base and moved Daniel Descalso to shortstop, but he stuck with the kid who was an effective fill-in after Rafael Furcal was sidelined by a season-ending elbow injury.

``He's getting kind of beat up right now. It seems to be an increasing distraction, I'm sure, if this is getting around to him,'' Matheny said. ``The message that we're staying with is the right message, which is we've had you in here in high leverage positions from the start and you've done a terrific job. Hopefully, he gets back to playing his game and trusting himself.''

Kozma is the first rookie shortstop to start in the postseason since Jed Lowrie with Boston in 2008, and Kozma batted .333 in September with three errors. After Game 1, he did his best to shrug off his error.

``It's still the same game. There's just a little bit more on the line,'' he said. ``But you can't think about that.''

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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