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Five Orioles who could improve in 2013

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Five Orioles who could improve in 2013

How could the Orioles possibly improve on last season?

They’re eager to prove they can, and with that in mind, we present five players who could have better seasons in 2013.


1) Nick Markakis

Markakis missed 54 games after averaging 160 over the previous five seasons. Once he was moved to leadoff, the team started clicking, and fortunately for them,  Nate McLouth seamlessly moved to the leadoff spot in the last three weeks of the regular season.

In 2012, he had three surgeries, to repair a torn muscle in his   abdomen, to remove his hamate bone in his right hand, and to repair his broken right thumb.

A full, injury-free year in right field could give the Orioles a nice start. He was badly missed in the Division Series loss to the Yankees.

2) Matt Wieters

Defensively, Wieters is superb. He picked up his second straight Gold Glove. Fewer runners try to steal on him each year, and he throws out a higher percentage of them.

Offensively, Wieters could get better. His batting average was only .244 though his on-base percentage moved up a tick to .329. He strikes out far too often, which is the case for many of the Orioles.

He had 22 home runs and 83 RBIs. Those numbers are excellent for a catcher, but a .270 average with fewer strikeouts than the 112 of last season would be ideal.

3) Jason Hammel

Hammel was part of the fans’ vote for the final spot on the American League All-Star team. He won eight of his first 10 decisions, lost four straight, and then pitched little because of surgery on his right knee.

He started Games 1 and 5 of the Division Series against the Yankees.

Hammel thrived under pitching coach Rick Adair and could easily have won 15 games last season. For the Orioles to contend next season, they’ll need a season like that out of Hammel.

4) Manny Machado

His third base play was terrific. He hit well, too. The Orioles are ready to see how well he’ll play for an entire season. At 20, he has a lot to work on.

Machado walked just nine times in 51 games. He struck out more than four times as often as he walked.

Despite no background at third base, he showed wonderful instincts and he should get stronger in the off-season, too.

5) Jake Arrieta

It’s hard to believe that Arrieta was the Orioles’ Opening Day pitcher. He was brilliant that day, but not many after that. Three months after the season started, Arrieta was back in Norfolk.

After he was recalled in September, he pitched out of the bullpen. Lots of teams covet his arm, and the Orioles are reluctant to part with him because they think he’ll be a fine major league pitcher.

They just don’t know when.
 

NOTES:

-Jim Johnson, Adam Jones and Buck Showalter were given Legacy Awards by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Johnson won the Hilton Smith Award, presented to the top relievers in each league. Jones picked up the John Henry “Pop” Lloyd Award for his community service, and Showalter won the Charles Isham “C.I.” Taylor Award as the American League’s top manager.

The awards will be presented on Jan. 12 in Kansas City,  Mo.

-Miguel Socolovich, who pitched in six games for the Orioles last season before he was placed on waivers, has signed to play for the Hiroshima Carp. Socolovich was taken off the Chicago Cubs’ 40-man roster.

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

Cal Ripken Jr.'s 25-acre, 8,545 square-foot home went up for auction this past Saturday and the highest bidder was......Adam Jones? 

The center fielder is purchasing the Orioles legend's former Reisterstown, Md. estate, according to The Athletic

Placed on the market in 2016 for $12.5 million, Ripken reduced the price to $9.7 million last year but was still unable to find a willing buyer. The estate was eventually put up for auction and sold to Jones for an undisclosed amount. 

The six bedroom home has 10 full bathrooms, a movie theater, a gym that overlooks an indoor basketball court, a pool and a baseball field with batting cages, a locker room and soaking tubs. One of the tubs was taken from Memorial Stadium and used by Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, but Ripken is keeping that one. 

What makes this purchase even more interesting is that Jones will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but that does not mean he plans on re-signing with the team. The 32-year old, who is in his last year of a six-year $85.5 million contract, is known to dip his toes in real estate investments and his wife, Audie Fugett, is a Baltimore native. 

The deal is scheduled to close on June 11. 

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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

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USA TODAY Sports

David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

BOSTON -- One strike away from a four-hit shutout, David Price happily settled for a complete game and his strongest outing of the season.

Price struck out eight and held Baltimore to five hits, including two in the ninth when the Orioles broke up the shutout before the Boston left-hander finished them off in a 6-2 victory for the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"He was amazing," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was outstanding. You saw it. Bad swings, up, down, in and out, changeup, cutter, sinkers ... that was fun to watch."

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, and Xander Bogaerts homered with two on during a four-run fifth, giving Price more than enough cushion against the struggling Orioles.

Price (4-4) struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He cruised through the first eight innings before Andrew Susac led off the ninth with a double, the first Baltimore player to reach second base in the game.

Manny Machado spoiled the shutout bid with a two-out homer, but Price finished off Baltimore on Jonathan Schoop's pop-up to center as the Red Sox improved to 4-0 against Baltimore by taking the makeup game that was rained out on Patriots' Day.

"They're a free-swinging team," said Price, who threw just 95 pitches. "You can go out there and do that or you can go out there for three innings and give up a bunch of runs."

Danny Valencia had a pair of hits for the punchless Orioles, who have lost three of four and have the second-fewest wins in the American League. Valencia nearly had a double in the fifth, but got thrown out at second by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, one of several strong defensive plays that helped Price go the distance.

Hanley Ramirez also caught a foul pop on the top step of Boston's dugout in the second and Mookie Betts ran down a fly ball that was headed to the wall in right.

"The defensive plays that I had today, it makes everything a lot easier," Price said.

Kevin Gausman (3-3) went 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing six runs and eight hits while striking out six and walking two. He was pulled after Bogaerts drove a high fastball out to left with two men on during Boston's four-run fifth.

"We just got into some sticky situations where we just had to dig ourselves out of a hole and we just couldn't," Susac said.

The Orioles also weren't happy with the strike zone, which Susac said forced Gausman to throw some pitches the Red Sox pounced upon.

Manager Buck Showalter agreed with his catcher.

"I'm very biased, but I didn't think he got a fair shake tonight," Showalter said. "There were a lot of pitches that could have and should have gone his way."

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