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Zach Clark: From undrafted to the 40-man in six years

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Zach Clark: From undrafted to the 40-man in six years

It’s not often that a 29-year-old, undrafted free agent is added to the 40-man roster for the first time. The Orioles did it last week with Zach Clark.

Clark, who’s been with the organization since Dean Albany signed him as a free agent after his graduation from University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

UMBC isn’t a big baseball school. Two right-handed pitchers, Rick Steirer and Jay Witasick, were drafted in 1977 and 1993 and made it to the majors. Clark is trying to be the third Retriever, but the first undrafted one.

“I didn’t expect to be added. I know they were considering it,” Clark said.

“It’s a step closer to where I want to be. To be in the big leagues, you have to be on the 40-man roster. By putting me on the 40-man roster, they’re showing some confidence in me. It’s reassuring.”

Clark will be 30 next July, and he’s methodically worked his way up the Orioles minor league food chain, spending lots of time in Aberdeen, Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie.

He made it as far as Norfolk in 2008 and made it back in 2010. The last assignment didn’t go well. He was 0-5 in six games, but Clark wasn’t discouraged.

I knew I was getting up in age, but I didn’t think about it. I thought if I pitched well, good things would happen,” Clark said.

Clark is a player who’s caught the eye of executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who says he’s “a great human interest story.”

The Delaware native credits Orioles minor league pitching guru Rick Peterson, whose throwing program helped Clark.
“I like routine. It gave me a chance to get into a rhythm,” Clark said.

All the other years, I’d have a good piece of the season, I tried
to do too much and I’d have mixed results.”

Clark spent 2011 at Bowie, where he was 10-9 with a 5.00 ERA. He wasn’t one of those who came to spring training in 2012 on an ad hoc basis when the Orioles were afraid they’d run out of players.

But, he was chosen to pitch for the Orioles in their exhibition game in Norfolk two days before the season opened.

He began 2012 at Bowie with a 10-5 record and a 3.19 ERA. Clark was promoted to Norfolk, where he was 5-2 with a 1.75 ERA. Now, he’ll get his first invitation to spring training.

In Triple-A, Clark faced lots of batters with big league experience.

Even if I failed against the best hitters, I’d think I could do it. It builds confidence if you do it against guys who’ve done it before,” Clark said.

Growing up in Newark, Del., Clark was a Phillies and Braves fan, but as a teenager began to gravitate to the Orioles.

There are lots of young fans who liked the Orioles because of Cal Ripken like Clark did, but he also rooted for Delino DeShields because he was from Delaware, too.

Clark’s mother worked at the University of Delaware, but when he  underwent arm surgery after his junior year in high school, the Blue Hens passed on him. He could have walked on, but went to UMBC instead.

He’s enjoyed watching guys he’s played with in the minors have success in the majors, and he enjoyed watching the Orioles do so well.

“It definitely made it a lot more fun. Throughout the organization, it felt different,” Clark said.

He throws a sinker, a two-seam and four-seam fastballs, a change-up and slider. “Your basic ground ball pitcher,” Clark said.

Now, he’s ready for his biggest challenge.

“They say that getting on to the 40-man roster is easy and getting to the big leagues is easy;, staying there is hard. I haven’t experienced that,” Clark said.

“I’ve played six years. My path has been one that’s been a little longer. I feel that I’ve earned that.”

 

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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

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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."

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