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Relaxed locker room in Baltimore


Relaxed locker room in Baltimore

One thing struck me when wandering through the Orioles' locker room for about 45 minutes Saturday afternoon-- this is a very relaxed group.
Locker rooms often tell you about a team. The tension in the Red Sox locker room late this season was so thick you could cut it with a knife (yes, it's a cliche, but it fits here). The day before the A's fired their manager in 2011, they were in Baltimore with a locker room so filled with unhappiness that not a lot of people spoke. It was easy to see.
The happiness in the Birds' locker room was just as easy to notice.
One day before starting their ALDS match-up with the Yankees, the smiles and grins were everywhere. Players were laughing and joking and playing ping-pong. Others were simply taking their time to get ready for batting practice early Saturday night.
As we've mentioned before, the Orioles really are playing with house money now. Not many people picked them to make the playoffs. They rallied in the second half of the season to make post-season play and then knocked off the defending American League Texas Rangers on the road Friday night.
The Orioles already have gotten so much farther than anyone thought that they've got nothing to lose. Mark Reynolds said they're having fun and want to keep doing it.
Maybe that's why the smiles were everywhere. Matt Wieters kept smiling throughout his interviews. Reynolds did the same. As did Brian Matusz and Joe Saunders. Adam Jones really seemed happy when talking about how the Baltimore fans are supporting the Orioles.
It would be one thing if the Orioles were just so happy that they beat the Rangers Friday night. However, that never even was mentioned.
For whatever the reason, this is a very low-key, laid-back group. What will happen in the ALDS versus the Yankees? Who knows?
But here's one prediction-- the Orioles are not going to be affected by nerves. They keep saying they're going to go out and have fun, and that's just what will happen.

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes


Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

The Orioles' Manny Machado is the early leader among American League shortstops in the first results of All-Star voting released by Major League Baseball Tuesday.

Machado holds a lead of 110,131 votes over the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor. 

No other Orioles' player is on the list, and Adam Jones isn't listed among the top-15 of outfielders. 

The Astros' Carlos Correa was last year’s starting shortstop for the American League, but is in fourth place with 206,707 votes, trailing the Yankees' Didi Gregorius who has 208,583.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 19.

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton has been activated from the disabled list, six months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Assuming he's finally healthy enough to resume his role as one of the best closers in the big leagues, the question now is: How long will Britton be with the Orioles?

Britton's contract expires after this season, and Baltimore entered play Monday with the worst record in the major leagues (19-45).

So, as he stood in front of his locker and spoke excitedly about his return to the Orioles, Britton conceded that his stay in Baltimore may not extend beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"I want to pitch well and help the team, regardless of our standing or trade discussions," he said.

Asked if the next few weeks might serve as an audition for other teams, Britton replied, "I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that."

Britton made the 2016 AL All-Star team during a season in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and compiled a 0.54 ERA in 69 appearances.

He fought forearm and knee injuries last season and had only 15 saves. Then, during the winter, he tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout.

"When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues," Britton said. "There were a lot of hurdles that I overcame."

Surgery and an intense rehab program under Orioles trainer Brian Ebel enabled the 30-year-old to return sooner than many anticipated.

"The thought that he's a pitcher for us on June 11, that's remarkable," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's checked every box to get ready. I don't know what else you could possibly do."

Although Britton will be pitching for a team that's struggled mightily this season, that won't influence the intensity he will bring to the mound.

"I had some injuries the last few years, so I'm looking forward to turning the page on that and just getting back to pitching well," he said. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants to do well at this level, and that's my focus."

To adjust the roster for Britton's return, the Orioles placed right-hander Pedro Araujo on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow strain and moved outfielder Colby Rasmus to the 60-day DL.