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Orioles should take a left hand turn looking for hitters


Orioles should take a left hand turn looking for hitters

Dan Duquette has many moves he must make before the Orioles’ 2016 chances can be seriously considered. Perhaps the most difficult will be added some left-handed bats to the lineup.

Not one of the six secure positions on the team is manned by a pure left-hander. J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo are all right-handed hitters. Matt Wieters is a switch hitter.

With so many right-handed starters, the Orioles are going to need some more left-handed hitters.

Of the three likely candidates for reserve roles who are under club control -- Ryan Flaherty, Caleb Joseph and Nolan Reimold -- only Flaherty is a left-hander. Jimmy Paredes, who is a switch hitter, hits much better from the left side, but his second half swoon makes his return questionable.

The most natural solution is to re-sign Chris Davis, which the Orioles are eager to do, but that may not be possible.

It was suggested here on Thursday that Pedro Alvarez, who was non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates, could work as an alternative.

If not Davis or Alvarez, what left-handed hitters can the Orioles get?

They can always circle back to Gerardo Parra. There hasn’t been much chatter about him so far, but he is left-handed and the Orioles are familiar with him.

Perhaps that familiarity is one reason we haven’t heard much chatter about him. His .268 on-base percentage in 55 games with the Orioles was far below the .369 OBP he had in 100 games with Milwaukee before his trade here.

Parra isn’t the sexiest free agent, but he is left-handed, and the Orioles need another outfielder or two.

Among available free agent first basemen, Ike Davis and Justin Morneau are both left-handed, but they are both far from their primes.

Among outfielders, how about Matt Joyce?

Joyce didn’t have a good year for the Angels in 2015, but he loves hitting at Oriole Park. In 47 games, Joyce has hit .322 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs, and the 31-year-old play against them often with Tampa Bay.

The Orioles have been interested in Alex Gordon, but he’ll be one of the most sought-after outfielders. He’d certainly be the answer, but they’ll have to compete with many others.

Some of the other available left-handed hitting corner outfielders aren’t nearly as appealing as Gordon—or even Parra.

Two are names the Orioles have shown interest in in the past, David Murphy and Will Venable.

The Orioles have tried to trade for both, and neither would be cost prohibitive.

Another interesting name is Shane Victorino. Manager Buck Showalter has spoken highly of Victorino, who said he’d like to return to switch hitting.

Victorino abandoned hitting from the left side during the 2013 season, and says that he thinks that’s a reason he’s struggled since.

The 35-year-old has played more right field than left, and could still be a backup to Adam Jones in center if the need arises. Showalter has said the Orioles would like a better alternative than what the Orioles had last year, if Jones again misses time.

Victorino has an extensive postseason resume, playing on six different teams that have played in October, winning World Series with Philadelphia in 2008 and Boston in 2013.

Duquette carefully looks at the list of players who were non-tendered, and in the past two years, signed two pitchers from the group, Ryan Webb and Wesley Wright. Neither was a success, and Wright was injured after just two games in April and never returned.

One name on the non-tender list that could intrigue Duquette is Mike Minor, who was non-tendered by the Braves. Minor could fill the Orioles’ need for a left-handed starter, but he missed the 2015 season after shoulder surgery.

Minor, who worked with pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti in the Atlanta organization, was a double-digit winner in 2012 and 2013, and he’s only 27.

NOTE: Vouchers for autograph sessions for Dec. 12’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center go on sale Saturday morning at 10 a.m. By 9 p.m. tonight, the Orioles will list the sessions at www.orioles.com/fanfest.

MORE ORIOLES: The 'Pride of Pigtown' says goodbye to the Orioles

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

USA Today Sports

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