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Minicamp has become a necessity for Orioles


Minicamp has become a necessity for Orioles

In its five years of existence, minicamp has become an absolute necessity for the Orioles. For the last three years, it’s been held at the team’s spring training complex in Sarasota, and about 20 pitchers, catchers and coaches huddle for three days.

Most of the pitchers throw one or two bullpen sessions, some don’t.

It’s a great place for the team to officially check on pitchers who’ve had injuries and make sure they’re doing well.

That was the case with Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey, who for a few minutes on Wednesday, threw side-by-side in a bullpen on one of the back fields.

It’s also a good place for pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti to become familiar with some of the young pitchers in the organization.

A year ago, they saw Mychal Givens throw. At that time, Givens was still a longshot, a former high draft choice as an infielder who didn’t hit very well, but had been converted to pitching.

They liked what they saw, and Givens became an important part of the bullpen in the final part of last season.

Obviously, they’re looking for more like Givens.

For manager Buck Showalter who could only attend the first two days of minicamp and missed Bundy and Harvey working on Wednesday, he gets to see some of the prospects for the first time in person.

He’s often watched tape of them. When he arrives at the ballpark hours before a night game, he’ll often watch two or three innings of a pitcher from Bowie, Frederick or Delmarva.

A few times during the season, he’ll sneak off to the affiliates, maybe even Aberdeen, to watch a pitcher throw. He’ll not sit in the dugout, and the young pitchers won’t know he’s there.

For a team like the Orioles, they have to find unique ways to compete, and a few days of hands on interaction with the major league staff can help the young pitchers.

Last year, Givens learned about major league relief pitching from Tommy Hunter at minicamp. This year, Donnie Hart, David Hess, Tanner Scott and Andrew Triggs gathered around him to hear him give advice.

Several Orioles pitchers live in the area: Zach Britton, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman. Givens, last year’s Rule 5 pick Jason Garica, and another young pitcher, Chris Lee are from Tampa, about an hour away.

The veterans didn’t throw in camp, but they watch. When the young pitchers do their work, the veterans observe. That’s an advantage, Wallace says.

“We think it is because what we’ve tried to do over the last few years is build an open communication forum where I think Zach and Tilly, Gonzo, all the guys, even during the season when our starters throw, they all come out, all the starters come out. When we have side sessions during the season with some of the bullpen guys, all the other guys are there. You never know where you’re going to get some information from somebody who may say the same thing in a different way. I think all of our pitchers understand,” Wallace said.

“They’re comfortable opening up and speaking with other pitchers in front of us. It’s not ‘hey you can’t talk to him because we’re the coaches.’ It doesn’t work that way here. They know what we believe, they’ve bought into a lot of it, and a lot of times when they speak to the younger guys, you put yourself in their position, if you’re a younger pitcher, are you going to listen to some pitching coach you just met or Zach Britton or Chris Tillman? I’m listening to the player, one of my own peers. What’s nice is, those guys, they’ll tell us what they talked to the guys about. It’s a nice open communication. It’s a long way of answering your question. I wouldn’t say it’s critical, but it certainly is real important for these guys to have a relationship.” 

This year, there weren’t any unexpected tryouts, just three days the Orioles hope will pay off later on this season, and years to come.

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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


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."