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Rule 5 draft pick Rickard makes Orioles roster

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Rule 5 draft pick Rickard makes Orioles roster

SARASOTA, Fla. – On the day that the Orioles said a sad goodbye to Miguel Gonzalez, they had something to celebrate.

For the fourth time in five years, a Rule 5 draft pick has made the team.

In a camp full of challenges and disappointments, Joey Rickard, the 24-year-old outfielder from Las Vegas, has sparkled.

Rickard, who has hit .390, spent the entire month impressing the Orioles and opponents.

After Wednesday night’s game, Norfolk manager Ron Johnson walked over to Rickard and the two walked to manager Buck Showalter’s office where he was told to make plans to be in Baltimore for Monday’s Opening Day.

“I’m pretty excited. I’ve got a lot of phone calls to make,” Rickard said with a huge grin.

“I just walked in there, they turned on the lights and all the staff was in there and they told me congratulations. It was pretty special,” Rickard said.

Rickard was drafted from the Tampa Bay organization in December. The Orioles hoped he could be an extra outfielder. Now, with South Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim in limbo, Rickard could be the starting left fielder on Monday.

“It’s been a rollercoaster really, but i couldn't ask for anything more. The guys that I’ve played with and the coaches that have prepared me for this. It’s happening really fast but I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it,” Rickard said.

Most of his family is on the West Coast, and they’ll have to make quick plans for a long, happy trip.

“I've got a pretty big family. Most of them are far away but I’m sure they will do what they can to make it,” Rickard said.

While Rickard celebrated, Gonzalez, whose release has not yet officially been announced by the organization, was still processing the shocking news that his Orioles career had ended suddenly.

Gonzalez, one of the most popular of all the Orioles, was revered for never complaining, and even though he had a horrible spring, the news that the team had let him go moved him to tears and stunned his many friends in the clubhouse.

Chris Tillman, one of his closest friends, who trained with him in Sarasota over the winter, didn’t want to talk about it after his start.

He labored through his final spring training start. Eager for March to end and the genuine games to begin, Tillman took the mound a few hours after Gonzalez had departed.

Gonzalez and Tillman were the only two starters who’d been with the Orioles for the past four seasons and experienced two postseasons, but now, Tillman will be without his buddy.

Tillman pitched only four innings, allowing one run in the Orioles’ 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers before 8,163 at Ed Smith Stadium on Wednesday night.

“I think we’ve had enough of this down here. I think everyone is ready to go and looking forward to get this thing going when the bell rings,” Tillman said.

Showalter spent a long time with Gonzalez, and was relieved to talk about Tillman and Rickard.

“He had good stuff today. When he gets the command down…Tough day for him. It’s cut day. These guys, sometimes we forget they’re not robots,” Showalter said.

“That’s why I like the first two weeks of spring. Nobody’s being cut, nothing’s going on. It’s a lot of fun. These last few days, every time I come out of my office with the door closed, it’s not a whole lot of fun for me, and I know especially for them, but Chris, stuff’s been crisp probably since the second outing. That’s been good to see. It hopefully bodes well for him.”

MORE ORIOLES: Orioles surprisingly release Miguel Gonzalez

No decision has yet been made about Hyun Soo Kim, who was again with the team, but idle. The Orioles are hoping Kim will consent to an assignment with Triple-A Norfolk.

Matt Wieters, whose return to catching went well on Tuesday night, was the DH and had two bunt singles.

Manny Machado was the final of nine strikeout victims by Detroit starter Shane Greene. When minor league umpire Joey Amaral called him out, Machado showed Amaral where he thought the pitch was, and the umpire, who lives in Baltimore, threw him out of the game.

“He did something they usually throw guys out for,” Showalter said.

The Orioles leave Sarasota Friday morning. They have one more game to play here, and with a record of 10-15-5, the spring hasn’t been terribly fun, and the team is eager to leave.

“We all are. Spring training, it’s that time, about a week too long,” Showalter said.

NOTES: Yovani Gallardo starts in Thursday’s Florida finale against former Oriole Bud Norris, who’s pitching for Atlanta. … Vance Worley pitches in Philadelphia on Friday.


 

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

Buck Showalter has been fired as manager of the Orioles, who made three playoff appearances under his guidance but this year staggered through the worst season since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Showalter confirmed the dismissal Wednesday in a text message to The Associated Press.

A three-time AL Manager of the Year, Showalter ranks second on the Orioles' career list with 669 victories, trailing Earl Weaver. He took over in August 2010 and orchestrated the resurgence of a team that suffered through 14 straight losing seasons.

Once hailed for making baseball in Baltimore relevant again, the 62-year-old Showalter is out of a job after a season in which the Orioles finished 47-115, 61 games behind Boston in the AL East. His contract expired at the end of October, and the Orioles opted against a renewal as they continue a major rebuild that began in late July, when they traded stars Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman for minor league prospects.

Those deals were made by Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations, whose future with the organization is up in the air.

Showalter earned AL Manager of the Year honors in 2014 after taking the Orioles to the AL East title and a berth in the Championship Series. He was also named Manager of Year with the Yankees in 1994 and Texas in 2004. His career record is 1,551-1,517, including 669-684 with Baltimore.

"I just think ever since he came here, the franchise just gained a little more accountability, gained an edge for some time," Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said before the final game of the season. "It's the end of an era. A great manager, a great tenure. I don't know if he's going to coach or manage again, but he's got grandchildren. Go golf. Relax and go sit on the golf course."

With his future in doubt, Showalter appeared undaunted during the final series of the regular season.

"You know how good they've been to me? I'm not ever going to forget that, regardless of what happens," he said.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin was asked before his team's playoff game against the Yankees on Wednesday night whether Showalter was victimized by the trend toward analytics.

"I don't think Buck was a guy that ignored analytics," Melvin said. "I think it was probably a combination of how they did this year and maybe some relationships."

After the Orioles brought Showalter out of retirement, he offered renewed hope by fashioning a 34-23 finish in 2010 for a team that was 32-73 upon his arrival.

Baltimore ended a 14-year playoff drought in 2012, advancing to the AL Division Series following a victory over Texas in the wild-card game. Playoff appearances in 2014 and 2016 followed.

Last year, however, the Orioles fell to 75-87 after losing 19 of their final 23 games. Baltimore hoped the addition of starters Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner would enable the team to be a contender this year, but a horrid start quickly dispelled that notion.

The Orioles' deficit in the AL East reached double digits by April 18 and they were 8-27 on May 8. By the end of July, Baltimore fully entered rebuilding mode, leaving Showalter with the dubious distinction of overseeing a team that finished with the poorest record in the majors and one that surpassed the 1939 St. Louis Browns for most losses in franchise history.

Showalter never offered an excuse. He just grinded forward, working to prepare the team for 2019 even though he knew he might not be around to follow through.

At the outset of a season-ending series against Houston, Showalter was asked if he was thinking these might be his final days in the Baltimore dugout.

"We all have some private thoughts and emotions about that, but I don't think it serves the organization well for me to be worried about that right now," he said. "We've got some things to do these last four games that need to get done."

Showalter has a reputation as a no-nonsense manager, but his players appreciated his baseball knowledge and skill at handling a team. He made a point of talking to each of them on a regular basis, almost always offering encouragement.

"He gave me a chance," said catcher Caleb Joseph, who played six-plus years in the minors before arriving in Baltimore. "He believed in me in 2014, ran me out there and gave me a chance to be part of a championship team. He's really vouched for me ever since. I owe a lot to Buck and his loyalty. He's been a main figure here for a long time."

Sensing the end was near for the only big league manager he had ever played for, first baseman Trey Mancini said: "It's been an absolute honor to play for Buck. He's been incredible."

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

The Boston Red Sox broke a 106-year-old franchise record with their 106th victory on Monday night, clinching home-field advantage through the postseason by beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 thanks to a pair of hits from major league batting leader Mookie Betts.

Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 hapless Orioles batters to assure the Red Sox of the best record in baseball this season and home-field advantage through the World Series, if they make it that far. For now, they know they will open the Division Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 5 against the winner of the AL wild-card game between the New York Yankees and mostly likely Oakland.

The 1912 Red Sox won 105 games in their first season at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (45-111) became the sixth AL team and the first since the 2003 Tigers to lose 111 games, falling 60 games behind Boston (106-51) in the division. It's the first time since 1939 that teams separated by 60 wins in the standings have played each other.

Boston scored four in the second inning, getting back-to-back doubles from Steve Pearce and Brock Holt, an RBI single from Christian Vazquez and Betts' two-run homer over the Green Monster. It was the 32nd homer of the season for Betts, a new career high.

Betts also singled and scored in Boston's two-run fourth, moving him into the major-league lead with 125 runs scored. In his last three games, he is 10 for 16 with three homers and four doubles, and he leads teammate J.D. Martinez (.328) in the AL batting race.

Renato Nunez had three hits for the Orioles, who fell to 2-15 against Boston and 18-61 on the road this season.

FOR STARTERS

Six days after throwing six scoreless innings against the Yankees, Eovaldi (6-7) allowed one run on four hits in five innings, walking none but uncorking a pair of wild pitches.

Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy (8-16) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings, striking out five.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Yefrey Ramirez is scheduled to start on Wednesday, but manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to give him an extra day or two. "I think Yefrey will pitch again, I just don't know when," Showalter said.

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was back in the lineup after feeling soreness in his left shoulder during a swing and leaving Sunday night's game. ... INF Eduardo Nunez ran on Sunday to test his hamstring and was scheduled to run again on Monday with the goal of having him back in the lineup by Wednesday or Friday.

UP NEXT

LHP David Price (15-7) tries to bounce back from a rough start in Yankee Stadium in the second game of the series in what could be his last start of the regular season.