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Five Orioles ready to step forward in 2013

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Five Orioles ready to step forward in 2013

Two weeks into the off-season, the Orioles are beginning to make plans for their winter training. Some will stay in Baltimore, a few work out in Sarasota, Fla. Others will play winter ball.

Here are five Orioles, who could make a big step forward in 2013

1) Manny Machado

Machado was much better than expected in 2012. Most observers were surprised Machado stayed in Double-A as long as he did. They were expecting a promotion from Bowie to Norfolk. Instead he got a call to Baltimore and outperformed everyone’s expectations.

He was terrific at third base, a position he’d hardly played before and his offense was strong, too.

Machado has things to work on. He struck out more than four times as often has he walked. He tied for the team lead in triples with three, but stole only two bases.

Look for a huge first complete season from Machado in 2013.

2) Dylan Bundy

It was a surprise that both Machado and Bundy spent any time at all with the Orioles in 2012. It will be a surprise if Bundy starts the season in Baltimore, but he should be there by June.

He needs to work on his control. “Four walks in Bowie are more walks up here,” manager Buck Showalter noted in late August.

Bundy should be a dynamic addition to the rotation, which is still lacking a No. 1 starter.

3) Brian Matusz

After all he’s been through, Matusz is still under 25. After two seasons of unsuccessful starting, Matusz quickly turned into a most effective left-handed reliever.

It’s not often that the fourth overall pick is converted to a left-handed specialist this early in his career. However, Matusz seemed uncomfortable starting and very comfortable relieving.

The Orioles say he’ll get a chance to start next spring training, but they seem to have plenty of starters and few alternatives to him as a lefty specialist.

4) Steve Johnson

Buck Showalter seemed reluctant to use Johnson, but he came through when called upon. Johnson was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 games, four of them starts.

He was used sparingly and not on the roster for the Division Series. Johnson could fit in the bullpen or as a starter, but he has lots of competition for starting.

5) Zach Britton

Britton was another pitcher Showalter seemed reluctant to use late in the season. He was the Orioles’ biggest winner in 2011, but won only five in 2012. If he’s healthier in 2013, he should have a better shot at getting a spot.

He probably has a lot of trade value, but look for him to go to spring training with the Orioles.

HONORABLE MENTION

L.J. Hoes

The young outfielder hasn’t yet gotten a real shot at the major leagues. He’s got speed and some pop. If there are outfield injuries in 2013, Hoes should get a shot.

Ryan Flaherty

Flaherty needs to work on his defense and learn how to take a walk. Showalter predicted last season Flaherty would be a regular in the major leagues in 2013. There’s an opening at second base.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

Days after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that captivated much of Major League Baseball, former Oriole Manny Machado took to Instagram to thank the only organization he's ever known. 

The 26-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season, which the Orioles chose not to renew as the last-place club enters a rebuilding phase. 

Machado put up big numbers in the team's first 97 games totaling career-highs in home runs (24), RBIs (65), OBP (.387) and OPS (.962). 

He is expected to play shortstop for a Dodgers club which finished the first half of the season 10 games above .500 in a competitive, tight NL West. 

The Dodgers will pay Machado $6.3 million. 

To my Baltimore family, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how I would say goodbye but there wasn’t an easy way to do it. I first joined this organization at the age of 17 and these past eight years have far exceeded anything I ever could’ve imagined. Throughout the ups and downs, you embraced me unconditionally and you took a kid from Miami and brought me up as one of your own. I’ve enjoyed my time here and you all have played a big part in that!! Thank you Birdland! You are forever in my heart! To the Baltimore Orioles, it has truly been a blessing to put on that uniform every day. To the Angelos Family & Dan Duquette, thank you for making my dreams come true!!! To Buck and the coaching staff, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making me the best player and teammate I can possibly be…I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. To my teammates, we’ve shared some amazing times with lots of memories & friendships that I’ll cherish forever. Schoopy, I love you bro and I know you will carry the torch!!! ! Much love always, Manny #13

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