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Rickard continues to impress Showalter in every way


Rickard continues to impress Showalter in every way

BRADENTON, Fla. – In a challenging spring training for the Orioles, Joey Rickard has been a delightful surprise.

Rickard was an unknown when he was taken in the Rule 5 draft from Tampa Bay last December, and the Orioles hoped that he could fill in defensively at all three outfield positions and perhaps be a pinch runner.

But, what they didn’t know is the Rickard could hit, too. Rickard ran his Grapefruit League average to .375 with two more hits and an RBI in the Orioles 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates before 8,100 at McKechnie Field on Wednesday.

Rickard has the most hits on the Orioles this spring, 18 and has six RBIs, and has clearly shown enough to make the team’s Opening Day roster.

If he makes it, Rickard will be the fourth Rule 5 draft pick to start the season with the Orioles in the last five years.

“That’s always a possibility. That’s what I’m hoping for, but in this game, this business, you really don’t think too far ahead. You don’t want to get your hopes too up or too down. There’s definitely a possibility, and there’s a possibility it doesn’t happen. I’m trying to be prepared for either way,” Rickard said.

His levelheadedness has impressed manager Buck Showalter, who is always looking for intangibles in players, and Rickard has that.

“It’s yet to be seen if he can do it at the major league level, but he’s down it well down here in some very difficult outfield situations,”
Showalter said.

“As the pitchers have started to step up their stuff a little bit, he’s hasn’t taken a back seat.”

Rickard can play all three outfield positions, and while he hasn’t played as much left field as center or right, the need could be greatest in left.

Adam Jones will play center and Mark Trumbo should play right. South Korean Hyun Soo Kim has started to play well in recent days, and perhaps the right-handed hitting Rickard could complement the left-handed hitting Kim.

“I think he’s got some pop that you haven’t seen a whole lot of,” Showalter said. “He fits a lot of criteria. We’ve played the heck out of him to see if we can find some dents to show up. I don’t care how you do here, there’ll be a different scope at the next level.”

At worst, Rickard should stick as a late-inning defensive replacement, and pinch runner. At best, he’ll be a great surprise offensively.

“The little thing that you look for, he seems to be good at, and those things don’t usually go away. He’s got a feel for the game. He seems to play with a good head, and an intelligence,” Showalter said.

“What else do you want him to do?”

Miguel Gonzalez allowed four runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings including home runs to Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco. He’s given up five homers in 15 1/3 innings and has a spring ERA of 12.56.

“I’m a fly ball pitcher. We all know that. When we get those ground balls it definitely helps. We have the defense for it. Let ‘em hit it.  Let ‘em hit it. We’ll get them for sure,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he felt strong.

“There’s only two pitches I’d like to have back. The two homers. Everything else was good,” Gonzalez said.

Showalter wasn’t terribly pleased with what he saw from Gonzalez.

“OK, not as good as we need him to be, but OK,” Showalter said.
“Command’s not where not what he has shown in the past. I think he’s a little frustrated with that.”

Offensively, the star of the game was Paul Janish, who had a double, home run and single in three at-bats. Janish, who hasn’t hit a major league home run since Sep. 3, 2010, hit a pitch from Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke into the left field bleachers.

Janish is hitting .324 this spring.

“Paulie’s trying to make the club. Paul’s taken advantage of opportunity,” Showalter said.

It would likely take an injury for Janish, a favorite of Showalter who’s not on the major league roster, to go north with the Orioles.

Janish is a superlative defensive shortstop who has shown better than expected offensive skills since his arrival with the Orioles late last August.

Darren O’Day allowed a two-run home run to Starling Marte. Vance Worley pitched two scoreless innings, and Zach Britton a scoreless eight for the Orioles, who fell to 5-14-4.

Caleb Joseph was the designated hitter, and he had two hits. Chris Davis, who asked to play here because he needed more at-bats was 1-for-4.

NOTES: Matt Wieters will be the designated hitter on Thursday. … Tyler Wilson pitches against the Pirates’ Jonathon Niese in Sarasota.

[RELATED: Wieters feels better, has quiet date for return]

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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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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."