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Ortiz swings back at Valentine

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Ortiz swings back at Valentine

Meanwhile, as the American League East turns …

*A couple of weeks after fired Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said during an interview with Bob Costas that designated hitter David Ortiz decided to quit playing, not that Ortiz’s injured Achilles tendon kept him out, the slugger returned responded via an interview with ESPNDeportes.com.

Ortiz wasn’t subtle. He said Valentine is crazy. In the clinical sense.

“After he went on national TV to say what he said, he sent me a text message trying to tell me that it was the media trying to change things,” Ortiz said. “I did not respond to the message, and I said to myself: ‘This guy must have some mental issues or needs medicine or something.’ I said: ‘I am dealing with someone crazy, and I am not going to drive myself crazy, so it is better if I leave it alone.’"

Ortiz disputed that his not playing had anything to do the Red Sox’s big trade (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford) that acknowledged they wouldn’t contend for the postseason.

"Stopping me [from playing] was the decision of the doctors, management, the manager and me," Ortiz said. "The team doctor recommended that I stop playing to not make the situation worse for the tendon. … In the 10 years I have played in Boston, I have been the heart and soul of the organization and not a second has gone by in which David Ortiz, able to go on the field to do what he knows best, he stayed seated instead."

*Look who wants to be the manager of the Blue Jays: Art Howe.

“I want to manage again,” Howe told the Toronto Sun. “The best thing I have going for me is my experience — seven years in the NL, seven in the AL. Toronto has always been an interesting team, they have some nice talent and were very competitive until they fell off with those injuries to their position players.”

Howe has managed three major-league teams — last in 2004 with the Mets — but he has been defined in popular culture as the grumpy, stick-in-the-mud skipper of the Athletics as portrayed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the movie “Moneyball.”

“In the movie, I was always grumpy, me against Billy [Beane, Oakland’s general manager],” Howe said. “It was like the team won despite me in the movie. … The way he portrayed me was very disappointing, probably 180 degrees from what I really am.”

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Who the Orioles could pick at No. 2 in 2020 MLB Draft, according to one expert

Who the Orioles could pick at No. 2 in 2020 MLB Draft, according to one expert

In the 2019 MLB Draft, the Baltimore Orioles took a major step toward rebuilding their roster and farm system by selecting catcher Adley Rutschman No. 1 overall. The switch-hitting backstop projects to become the cornerstone of the franchise. This year, the team can add another major piece in the 2020 MLB Draft as they have the second overall pick.

Though the draft has been shortened from 40 rounds to just five, it doesn't truly impact what Baltimore will do at No. 2. There, they will still have an opportunity to select the next piece of their future, and plenty of good options will be available.

But, unlike last year where Rutchsman was the shoo-in all along, the choices are not as clear cut in 2020. MLB Pipeline senior writer Jim Callis, who has closely studied the group of prospects, believes there are a few different ways the Orioles could go.

“I don’t think it’s a clear cut decision at No. 2 yet," Callis told MASN's Steve Melewski.

When it comes to who Callis could see Baltimore selecting, the dream-scenario would be Spencer Torkelson out of Arizona State University. However, it's considered a dream because the most likely outcome is that the Detriot Tigers will take Torkelson first overall. The first baseman has a special bat according to Callis and resembles the talent Rutschman has demonstrated at the plate.

Though there is a slim chance of it happening, the idea of those two one day sharing a lineup card in Baltimore would have the Orioles over the moon with excitement.

“To image those two guys in the middle of the lineup," Callis said. "Woo, that would be pretty exciting.”

Yet, if Torkelson does go No. 1, there is still plenty of talent available in the draft class. A name that comes to mind for Callis is Vanderbilt's Austin Martin. The position player asserted himself as a top prospect after his 2019 collegiate season in which he led the SEC in batting average (.392) and on-base percentage (.486) all while helping his team dominate the toughest conference in baseball and claim a College World Series title.

In Martin, the Orioles could be getting another reliable bat for years and years to come, one Callis claims to be the "best pure hitter in the draft." However, Martin's major area of concern is defense, as many are still unsure as to what his best position is. 

“I think there’s some questions as to where he’s gonna play," Callis said of Martin. “Is he a center fielder, a third baseman, an offensive second baseman? That’s a little unclear.”

After struggling in the infield, largely due to an inability to consistently make the throws from the left side of the diamond, Martin made the move to center field. However, due to the shortened 2020 season, he lost valuable reps in the outfield. Despite that, Callis sees that and one other option as Martin's best spot in the pros.

“My guess is he’s going to be a center fielder or second baseman," Callis said.

If the Orioles are not sold on Martin, or want to grab a player of similar skill but for a little less price, Nick Gonzales out of New Mexico State could be a fit as well. Versatile, he led the NCAA in batting in 2019 with a .423 average.

Baltimore could also decide it wants to add a pitcher at No. 2 overall, and based on how Callis views that portion of the draft class, it could be a beneficial decision. After a down year for pitchers in 2019, things look a lot better in 2020.

“[2019] was not a good year for college pitching. It was probably, I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, the worst draft I’ve seen in terms of first-round caliber college arms," Callis said. "This year, college pitching is a strength. There’s a lot of good college pitching.”

The best, according to Callis, is Texas A&M's Asa Lacy. The left-handed starter was off to a strong start to the 2020 season (3-0, 0.75 ERA) before games were canceled. The Orioles could always use another arm to one day rely upon at the Major League level, and Callis sees Lacy as the best prospect to fit that mold.

Even with Lacy's potential, the talented pitching class may sway Baltimore away from him. The Orioles also hold the No. 30 and No. 39 picks in the draft in addition to their first-round selection, and Callis has a feeling that other very good arms will be available.

“There’s gonna be really good pitchers available at 30," Callis said. "Much more so than I think the hitters that will be available at 30.”

With the draft just a couple of weeks away, Martin, Gonzales and Lacy are seen as the three most likely options for the Orioles. No matter who the team ends up selecting with the No. 2 overall pick, Callis believes that they will become a big part of Baltimore's future success. A few years down the line, the 2020 class should have a good reputation in Callis' eyes.

“It’s the first year of the decade. I would bet that we look back in history and this would be one of the top two or three draft classes of the 2020s," Callis said.

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Glove Jeffrey Maier used to catch Derek Jeter's HR vs. Orioles in 1996 ALCS is up for auction

Glove Jeffrey Maier used to catch Derek Jeter's HR vs. Orioles in 1996 ALCS is up for auction

Orioles and Yankees fans, and plenty of other baseball supporters, will forever remember the name Jeffrey Maier. Now, if they want to, they can own an item of his that will always be a part of MLB history.

Maier's glove from Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS is now up for auction through Lelands Auctions, according to The Action Network's Darren Rovell. The minimum bid on the item is $2,500.

For those who need a refresher -- sorry Orioles fans -- a 12-year-old Maier made his mark During Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS between Baltimore and the New York Yankees. The Orioles held a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. With a young Derek Jeter stepping up to the plate, Maier was a fan planted at the front of the right-field stands. Jeter sent a ball his way, and Maier reached out and grabbed the "home run."

Home run is in parenthesis because the argument to this day is that Orioles' right fielder Tony Tarasco was in a position to potentially catch the ball as it was not going over the wall, but Maier interferes with the play. Despite evidence to support that, it was called in the Yankees favor.

New York would then go on to win the game in extra innings, shifting the momentum in the series and eventually advancing to the World Series. For Yankees fans, Maier could be viewed as a small hero. As for those in Baltimore, he carries a similar reputation to Steve Bartman. 

New Yorkers may want the glove as a symbol from their 1996 World Series run, while Baltimore fans already have some ideas for what they would do with the tainted piece of history.

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