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Orioles should take a left hand turn looking for hitters


Orioles should take a left hand turn looking for hitters

Dan Duquette has many moves he must make before the Orioles’ 2016 chances can be seriously considered. Perhaps the most difficult will be added some left-handed bats to the lineup.

Not one of the six secure positions on the team is manned by a pure left-hander. J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo are all right-handed hitters. Matt Wieters is a switch hitter.

With so many right-handed starters, the Orioles are going to need some more left-handed hitters.

Of the three likely candidates for reserve roles who are under club control -- Ryan Flaherty, Caleb Joseph and Nolan Reimold -- only Flaherty is a left-hander. Jimmy Paredes, who is a switch hitter, hits much better from the left side, but his second half swoon makes his return questionable.

The most natural solution is to re-sign Chris Davis, which the Orioles are eager to do, but that may not be possible.

It was suggested here on Thursday that Pedro Alvarez, who was non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates, could work as an alternative.

If not Davis or Alvarez, what left-handed hitters can the Orioles get?

They can always circle back to Gerardo Parra. There hasn’t been much chatter about him so far, but he is left-handed and the Orioles are familiar with him.

Perhaps that familiarity is one reason we haven’t heard much chatter about him. His .268 on-base percentage in 55 games with the Orioles was far below the .369 OBP he had in 100 games with Milwaukee before his trade here.

Parra isn’t the sexiest free agent, but he is left-handed, and the Orioles need another outfielder or two.

Among available free agent first basemen, Ike Davis and Justin Morneau are both left-handed, but they are both far from their primes.

Among outfielders, how about Matt Joyce?

Joyce didn’t have a good year for the Angels in 2015, but he loves hitting at Oriole Park. In 47 games, Joyce has hit .322 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs, and the 31-year-old play against them often with Tampa Bay.

The Orioles have been interested in Alex Gordon, but he’ll be one of the most sought-after outfielders. He’d certainly be the answer, but they’ll have to compete with many others.

Some of the other available left-handed hitting corner outfielders aren’t nearly as appealing as Gordon—or even Parra.

Two are names the Orioles have shown interest in in the past, David Murphy and Will Venable.

The Orioles have tried to trade for both, and neither would be cost prohibitive.

Another interesting name is Shane Victorino. Manager Buck Showalter has spoken highly of Victorino, who said he’d like to return to switch hitting.

Victorino abandoned hitting from the left side during the 2013 season, and says that he thinks that’s a reason he’s struggled since.

The 35-year-old has played more right field than left, and could still be a backup to Adam Jones in center if the need arises. Showalter has said the Orioles would like a better alternative than what the Orioles had last year, if Jones again misses time.

Victorino has an extensive postseason resume, playing on six different teams that have played in October, winning World Series with Philadelphia in 2008 and Boston in 2013.

Duquette carefully looks at the list of players who were non-tendered, and in the past two years, signed two pitchers from the group, Ryan Webb and Wesley Wright. Neither was a success, and Wright was injured after just two games in April and never returned.

One name on the non-tender list that could intrigue Duquette is Mike Minor, who was non-tendered by the Braves. Minor could fill the Orioles’ need for a left-handed starter, but he missed the 2015 season after shoulder surgery.

Minor, who worked with pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti in the Atlanta organization, was a double-digit winner in 2012 and 2013, and he’s only 27.

NOTE: Vouchers for autograph sessions for Dec. 12’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center go on sale Saturday morning at 10 a.m. By 9 p.m. tonight, the Orioles will list the sessions at www.orioles.com/fanfest.

MORE ORIOLES: The 'Pride of Pigtown' says goodbye to the Orioles

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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."