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Saunders to start Game 4 of ALDS for O's


Saunders to start Game 4 of ALDS for O's

Most teams send their next day's starting pitcher to the interview room before a postseason game. The Baltimore Orioles sent two.

With Baltimore manager Buck Showalter publicly uncertain about his Game 4 starter against the New York Yankees, Joe Saunders sat on the podium Wednesday with Chris Tillman sitting to his left.

``We were kind of hoping you would tell us because we don't know yet,'' Saunders told reporters. ``Whoever it is, me or Chris, we're going to go out there and do our job.''

Saunders will get the start in Game 4, trying to keep the Orioles season alive. The Yankees took a 2-1 series lead on Raul Ibanez's homer in the 12th inning on Wednesday night that gave New York a 3-2 victory.

Saunders, a 31-year-old left-hander, was 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts after he was acquired from Arizona on Aug. 26. Tillman, a 23-year-old righty, was 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts.

Tillman hasn't pitched since the regular-season finale on Oct. 3, and Saunders hasn't appeared in a game since Sept. 30.

``We don't truly have maybe a one, two, three, four, five kind of rotation,'' Saunders said. ``We have maybe a couple twos, maybe a couple threes, maybe a four, whatever. Like Buck says, whoever is pitching that day is the ace. Every day is the biggest game of the year, and then we move on to the next day and then that day is the biggest game of the year.''

Saunders won his one start against the Yankees, allowing two runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings to defeat CC Sabathia 5-4 on Sept. 8 at Camden Yards. Tillman was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against New York.

Baltimore was 6-3 at Yankee Stadium during the regular season after going 2-7 in the Bronx in each of the previous three years.

``This year has been a whole different feel in the clubhouse and on the field,'' Tillman said. ``We've just been playing good baseball. I think any given night it's a different guy that's a star that helps the team. It's never the same guys over and over again. Different guys pull through for us. It's exciting to watch.''


CAPTAIN OUCH: Derek Jeter limped off the field after striking out in the eighth inning and didn't return to the Yankees' 3-2, 12 inning victory in Game 3 over the Orioles.

New York's captain fouled a ball off his foot in the third inning, just before hitting an RBI triple over the head of Baltimore's bubble-blowing center fielder Adam Jones. Jeter labored as he jogged back to the dugout but stayed in the game.

``It hurt man,'' Jeter said. ``You try having someone throw a ball at your foot as hard as they can. It's just part of the game, but I wish it didn't happen.''

Still, Jeter insisted he was going to play Thursday.

Manager Joe Girardi will wait until the shortstop comes in before batting practice to decide.

``It's day to day, and we'll see how he feels,'' Girardi said. ``Hopefully we can get him back in there.''

Slowed by a bruised ankle in September that forced him to serve as the designated hitter for six of nine games, Jeter said this injury was to a different part of the foot.

In the sixth, he slowly jogged to first on a single. After striking out in the eighth he was lifted. When fans saw Jayson Nix heading to shortstop they let out a gasp.

``I talked my way into the last at-bat and that didn't work out so well,'' he said.

Don't count Jeter out. Entering Wednesday's game Jeter had played every inning in 151 of his 154 postseason games. The only times he was lifted early came in blowout games the Yankees lost by at least 11 runs.


FRANK TALK: Don't try to talk sabermetrics with Frank Robinson. When he won the Triple Crown in 1966, he was the MVP. And he thinks Miguel Cabrera deserves the same honor.

The Hall of Fame slugger weighed in on the AL MVP debate Wednesday after throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Game 3 of the St. Louis Cardinals-Washington Nationals series. While new-age stat-heads might favor Angels rookie Mike Trout, Robinson is definitely old school about Cabrera's .330 batting average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs with the Detroit Tigers.

``Guys have had a good year, Trout especially,'' Robinson said. ``But I don't see how an individual can play on a winning ballclub and get his team into a series trying to get into the World Series and win a Triple Crown - and not be the MVP of the league.''

Robinson's impressive feat was repeated in 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski, but baseball then went 45 years without a Triple Crown winner before Cabrera pulled it off.

``I'm really happy for him because I think people take the Triple Crown for granted really, take it too lightly,'' Robinson said. ``I think it's the most outstanding thing an individual player as a hitter can do. It's not an easy thing. I don't know of anybody who went into spring training and said, `I'm going to win the Triple Crown.' You can't do that.''

``What bugs me is when people start hollering in April about a guy leading the league in all three and they say, `What do you think his chances are?' And I tell them: `Slim and none and slim left town and none passed away.' You don't start thinking about Triple Crown until early or mid-September.''


THE CUT-OFF MAN: Reds pitching coach Bryan Price was clean-shaven when he showed up at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, deciding he'd paid off his no-hitter debt.

Price started growing a mustache after Homer Bailey threw the franchise's 15th no-hitter in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28, making good on a vague promise from spring training.

``I don't remember it,'' Price said. ``I'm sure I said something in spring training that if any of you incompetents can potentially, somehow throw a no-hitter, I would grow a mustache or something like that. Obviously, all in jest.''

That's not how the players took it. Bailey clearly remembered it.

``After he was mobbed by his teammates, that's the first thing he said to me on the field in Pittsburgh,'' Price said.

Price let the hair on his lip grow, acknowledging he looked a little ``ridiculous'' with it. He did an interview for Bailey's start against the Giants in Game 3 on Tuesday night, then got rid of the new look.

``I honored it, going on national television with a mustache in a game that Homer pitched, and once he got done with it, I couldn't get it off fast enough,'' Price said.


FOR STARTERS: After going 5-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 16 starts, Brian Matusz was demoted to the minors in midseason by the Orioles. When he returned in late August, he blossomed into one of baseball's best left-hander relievers, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA.

Coming out of the bullpen, Matusz held left-handed hitters to a .179 average (5 for 28) and righties to 0 for 16.

Still, his stay in the `pen could be a brief one.

``Brian will more than likely go in the spring as a starter,'' manager Brian Showalter said Wednesday. ``We think he can go back and do this, but he needs to get his innings. It was also a carrot for him to come back to the big leagues, so there was a lot of want-to there.''

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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