Orioles

Marcum and Mets finalize one-year deal

Marcum and Mets finalize one-year deal

NEW YORK (AP) Shaun Marcum was excited to sign with the New York Mets because they offered him an opportunity to pitch every five days. As for replacing R.A. Dickey, that will take a team effort.

``I think if all five starters go out there and do their job, stay healthy, get to the goal of 200-plus innings then I think just that will fill R.A's shoes in itself,'' Marcum said during a conference call Wednesday.

Despite the possible pressure of being seen as Dickey's replacement, Marcum felt comfortable coming to New York thanks to a couple of familiar faces.

Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi - then the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays - drafted Marcum in the third round of the 2003 draft out of Missouri State, and the right-hander says his old boss played a key role in this signing.

Marcum's one-year contract became official Wednesday. He will earn $4 million in salary and can earn $2.25 million in performance bonuses and $1.75 million in roster bonuses.

He would get $250,000 for each for 120, 140, 160 and 170 innings pitched, $375,000 apiece for 180 and 190 and $500,000 for 200.

He also can make $375,000 each for 90 and 120 days on the active roster or on the DL for an injury other than to his right arm, and $500,000 apiece for 150 and 170.

The 31-year-old Marcum also knows the Mets new catcher, John Buck, well. They were teammates for what Marcum called his best season in the majors, 2010 in Toronto. Buck came from the Blue Jays to New York in the trade for Dickey, a swap that included four catchers.

``Having him behind the plate, that comfort level, getting to spring training I don't have to try to go over my game plan with three or four different catchers,'' Marcum said. ``John already knows how I pitch.''

Marcum went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 31 starts in 2010, a year after he had elbow-reconstruction surgery. He missed two months last season with Milwaukee because of more elbow trouble but says he is now fully healthy.

``We did MRIs, all that stuff, did another one this winter. The main thing was it wasn't the flexor tendon, the ligament or anything like that. Everybody was happy, I'm happy,'' Marcum said. ``Now it's just about going out and pitching and doing whatever I can to help the Mets.''

Marcum joins a Mets' rotation that includes left-handers Johan Santana and Jonathon Niese, and righties Matt Harvey, a rookie, and Dillon Gee, none of whom reached 200 innings last season. The signing does allow New York to keep right-hander Zack Wheeler - rated the No. 8 prospect by MLB.com - in the minors at least a little longer.

In order to reach his goal of pitching 200 innings for the second time in his seven-year career, Marcum has been throwing more during the offseason than in the past.

``The philosophy I was brought up in was kind of `Save your bullets, don't throw too much,''' he said of his professional career. ``I kind of went back to my old high school, college days when my arm was feeling great. I was throwing as much as I possibly could. Throwing every single day. Throwing more distance. Long-tossing out to 280, 300 feet. And I've just been building up that arm strength. And I've had no problems since I started my program.''

In 21 starts for Milwaukee last year, he was 7-4 with a 3.71 ERA. Overall, he is 57-36 with a 3.76 ERA.

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AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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All it took for Chris Davis to break out of his slump was a letter from a Red Sox fan

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All it took for Chris Davis to break out of his slump was a letter from a Red Sox fan

Well, dang. We did not expect to need tissues for this video.

When Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was in the midst of the worst slump in Major League Baseball history, it often felt from afar like nothing could pull him out of his doldrums. It was difficult to watch Davis make the worst kind of history, knowing there was nothing fans can do to help.

Apparently, that was a mistake. All it took was a letter.

Henry Frasca, a diehard Red Sox fan, hated watching Davis struggle. So, when the O’s were in town to play his favorite team, he decided to write Davis a letter of encouragement.

The note made its way to Davis, who kept it with him. Inspired by the kind words, Davis had a breakout day at the plate, driving in four runs one his first three hits of 2019. The longtime Oriole has kept the letter with him ever since.

Frasca was unaware of the specific impact his message made, but as the Orioles returned to Fenway Park once again, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime.

This is, frankly, one of the coolest things we’ve seen in a long time. Frasca is just nine years old, but his view on the world and, specifically, helping those in need is both mature beyond his years and inspiring to the adults around him.

The most impressive part of the letter, as Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne highlights in his interview, is the idea that how Davis is playing on the field does not define the person he is off it.

It’s an insightful message, one that’s easy for even grown men and women to forget when cheering on their favorite players from afar. For someone so young, who roots for a rival team, to recognize it so early is mighty impressive.

The video is five minutes long, but well worth every second of your time. Well done to the Orioles, Thorne, Davis, and of course, Frasca most of all.

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Much to his pleasure, Max Scherzer ‘probable’ to start this week

Much to his pleasure, Max Scherzer ‘probable’ to start this week

WASHINGTON -- If you ask Max Scherzer, he is ready. Which is not an upgrade from where he was earlier in the week.

Scherzer felt well again Sunday when he woke up following his second simulation game of the week. His workload increased Saturday, his comfort remained the same and Sunday his body told him he is ready to pitch in a game for the first time since July 25. Davey Martinez agreed -- for the most part. He said Scherzer is “probable” to start Thursday in Pittsburgh.

“I feel good,” Scherzer said. “Kinda do my normal little tests, move my arm and go through the throwing motion, so I feel good. I’m basically sore today the way I should be sore, given that and all the treatment we did yesterday and throwing a sim game. Like everything feels right where it should be. There’s no extra soreness other than what I anticipated. To me, that’s right on par.”

Scherzer remains irritated he was instructed to throw a second simulation game. He understands why. It just was not his personal preference. Part of the reason is in the title of the act. “Simulation” is not reality. For instance, he warned Gerardo Parra a slider was coming in the first simulation game. “Watch your foot,” Scherzer told him out of concern for possible injury. Pitchers are not truly pitching inside during simulations because of that worry. Players could be found to stand in the box without concern of injury. However, they couldn’t competently handle a hall-of-fame pitcher. So, that’s a false test, too. Only being in a game tells the truth.

But this is what Scherzer had to deal with because of the organization managed his return slowly. They focused on the future -- both this season and beyond. Scherzer is much more concerned about the now because, in his view, his rhomboid strain is not a significant injury.

“The long-term health, that’s not even part of the equation,” Scherzer said. “We all know that’s going to be good because we’re dealing with a muscle strain. Every other structure within the back, shoulder, you name it – nothing at play here. It’s literally dealing with the muscle strain and getting through it.”

Knowing this is not a long-term injury has keyed Scherzer’s frustration with the process. He’s felt close, then ready, really close, and again ready throughout the recovery. He’s being teased by the thing he wants to do most: get back on the mound in a real game. 

“Honestly, the toughest part about this whole thing is I feel like the carrot’s right in front of my face,” Scherzer said. “That it’s such day to day that any day it could turn and you always wake up every single day thinking today’s the day that you’re going to wake up and not feel anything and you’re going to go out there and you’re going to throw it and you’re going to feel no pain whatsoever. And you go off running because it’s not a serious injury. That’s been the most frustrating part. 

“If I knew that was going to be however long this is going to take – if I was dealing with, say, a more significant injury where they say, ‘You’re not going to feel good in six weeks’ – all right, you got it. You can easily mentally check out for six weeks knowing I’m not going to be able to throw a ball in six weeks and you can build your rehab around that. That hasn’t been the case. It’s really been day to day: ‘Hey, you might be feeling good here in two days.’ That’s really been the prognosis I’ve gotten from the doctors and everybody about what I’m dealing with. 

“So for me, that’s really been the hardest part mentally. I feel like at any point in time I could be ready to get back out there and at any day everybody’s expecting that this could turn. For me, when you have that carrot right in front of your face and you want to be helping your team, that’s what’s been the most frustrating part for me mentally.”

A bullpen session Monday should be next. After that, a final step to diffuse all of Scherzer’s irritation, his competition-based combat with Martinez and the organization and exasperation with a muscle strain which derailed him for a month can come: pitch one.

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