Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo will open the regular season on the disabled list after aggravating a quad strain in his right leg, so now his focus turns to resolving the injury entirely before returning, no matter the time it takes to completely heal.
After initially missing a week of Grapefruit League games with the injury, Trumbo returned as the team’s starting designated hitter Wednesday at home against the New York Yankees. He made it through that game, but felt tightness afterward, and an MRI the following day revealed a Grade 2 strain.
“I don’t know how surprised [I am],” Trumbo said. “It’s just unfortunate in a number of ways, but it’s kind of hard to tell exactly where you’re at until you’re going full speed and I think that was the case here.”
Trumbo said the quad wasn’t completely healed when he returned, but with spring training winding down, he hoped he could still get enough at-bats to be ready for Opening Day on March 29. Trumbo hadn’t played in a game since March 6, but after a 0-for-3 outing Wednesday, his quad regressed.
“I wouldn’t say it felt good as it has when I’m 100 percent, but at the end of the day, with where we’re at in spring, it’s important to get the at-bats,” Trumbo said. “You’re kind of taught to fight through and get out there, and that was kind of where my mind was at. I was hoping it would hold up and be good enough to allow me to get the reps needed to perform. But when I got home that night, it simply didn’t feel — didn’t respond too well.”
While manager Buck Showalter estimated that Trumbo would return in three to four weeks, Trumbo said he’s preparing to take longer.
“However long it takes is what it takes, because it’s one of those things that can really nag and nag,” Trumbo said. “So we’ve got to make sure we get it right and whatever time frame that is, I’ll deal with it. … I don’t think it’s beneficial to try to look forward to something in a short amount of time. Ideally, I’m ready to go in three weeks and contributing, but I think I need to be a little bit smarter and really make sure I’m ready to go.”
Trumbo said he hadn’t decided yet whether he will remain in Sarasota to rehabilitate or go north with the team when Grapefruit League games end next weekend to continue his recovery in Baltimore.
Trey Mancini knows what it’s like to take Baltimore by storm, but as he watched UMBC complete the first first-round upset by a No. 16-seed against top-ranked Virginia, the Orioles star knew he was watching a sports phenomenon of a different kind.
“This is honestly one of the top things I’ve been waiting for to happen in sports, every year,” said Mancini, who watched the game after returning from the team’s two-day jaunt to Florida’s East Coast. “My uncle he lives up in the D.C. area — he’s the biggest college basketball fan I know, and he’s gotten me on the train of ‘This is something that might not ever happen.’ But we’ve been waiting a long time.
“It’s really cool too that it’s a Baltimore school that did it, especially against UVA. Two teams in the same area, I’m sure that makes it a little sweeter for UMBC, too. It looks like they have a great team. They’ve got a chance to make a little run here, honestly.”
Mancini was one of many weary travelers in the Orioles clubhouse who made it back for the game last night. Center fielder Adam Jones tweeted his congratulations this morning, too.
But if the mood was more subdued because of the early-morning report time and the long few days that preceded Saturday, it would have been more somber had one of the more popular players from recent years in the Orioles clubhouse had been around.
Tyler Wilson, who now pitches for LG Twins in Korea, went to the University of Virginia and was a constant presence in March wearing his UVA floppy hat and Cavaliers gear around the clubhouse.
“That’s the one guy I feel really, really bad for,” Mancini said. “I hope he’s doing OK over there. He’s the biggest Virginia basketball fan I know. He loves Virginia very much, and I can’t imagine if it was Notre Dame in that position — being in the NIT doesn’t seem so bad now after seeing that last night.”
Jones had his sympathies, too, and Wilson’s response was succinct: “March 17, 2018 I lived my nightmare.”
Mike Wright Jr. will take the mound Saturday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays knowing it will likely be his penultimate opportunity this spring to make his case for a spot in the Orioles starting rotation.
He’s put together a strong resume so far, competing with Miguel Castro and Rule 5 draft pick Nestor Cortes Jr. for the team’s fifth rotation spot. Even if he doesn’t make the rotation, he’s probably already done enough to earn a spot in the team’s bullpen, especially since he’s out of minor league options.
“I’ve felt pretty good,” Wright said of his spring. “I still have some improving to do, but that’s what spring training is for — to get ready for the actual season if I’ve done enough to be in the starting rotation to start the season. But that’s not up to me, so I’m going to keep doing what I need to do and hopefully I put myself in a good enough situation.”
What’s been most impressive about Wright’s spring is that he’s embracing now more than ever the finer aspects of attacking hitters. In the past, when he started getting into trouble, he’d start to press and sometimes that led to being unable to limit the damage.
Wright, 28, was able to show he could limit the damage in his last outing, a three-inning relief outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday in Bradenton. He found himself in trouble quickly in the seventh inning after Josh Harrison’s leadoff single and a one-out double by Starling Marté.
He struck out Christopher Bostick for the second out, but then José Osuna sharp ground ball to third ate up minor league third baseman Drew Dosch, and two earned runs came into score on a play that was ruled a single.
That might have led to Wright’s unraveling in the past, but he kept the damage there, getting out of the inning with a fly ball off the bat of Colin Moran, the first of seven straight batters retired to end his outing.
In his last two innings, Wright didn’t have command of his fastball, which was running up and in to right-handed hitters. But instead of forcing the issue, Wright went to his secondary pitches.
“It’s good when you can compete and get out when you don’t have your command or one pitch,” Wright said. “It’s definitely exciting to see that you don’t have to have your ‘A’ game every time you go out there. You just have to learn how to adjust. … I started going to my breaking ball, which kind of got me back in line and helped me get back into some counts. I used my cutter 3-1 a couple of times to get me back into counts.
“Things like that maybe in the past I wouldn’t do. I’d just keep trying to throw my fastball and get frustrated that I wasn’t getting it where I wanted to. I definitely think it was a good step forward.”
Wright has previously compared this spring to the one he had in 2016, when he earned an Opening Day rotation spot. But he’s actually made significant strides since that spring. His Grapefruit League ERA this spring (3.60 in four outings) is more than a full run lower than his ERA that year (4.79 in six outings). But numbers aside, he spent that spring trying to show the Orioles how hard he could throw. This spring, he’s trying to show how well he can pitch by mixing his pitches.
“I think in 2016, I think the first game I came out throwing 98,” Wright said. “It felt good, but if you’ve watched any of my past, one game I do hit 98, but a lot of the other games I don’t. So it’s the simple fact of the matter that I can’t plan to pitch at 98 and throw fastballs past people. I have to plan to have those games that I normally have, where I’m low 90s and mixing my pitches up, so I think it that regard, I feel better than I did in 2016.”
TAMPA — Didi Gregorius was well aware of Manny Machado’s impending free agency even before it gained national attention, when Aaron Judge told the Orioles’ shortstop that he would “look good in pinstripes.”
And while many expect the Yankees to make a serious run at Machado following this season, it can be easy to forget that Gregorius has developed into one of their top players, having made a seamless transition in replacing Derek Jeter.
“I know he and [Washington’s Bryce] Harper are going to be free agents and everybody wants to see where they go,” Gregorius said before the Yankees played the Astros at Steinbrenner Field on Friday night. “People are already talking about it everywhere. I’m not surprised. It’s just the way baseball is.”
Gregorius, who is arbitration eligible after this season and set to hit free agency following the 2019 season, said he’s been able to block out the chatter for the most part — but he knows he won’t be able to avoid it forever.
“Of course I worry about my future,” Gregorius said. “You never know what might happen. If they bring [Machado] here and trade me, then what? If they bring him here and I’m still here, then what? I don’t have to worry about what people are saying. I just have to go play my game and everything will take care of itself.”
Gary Sanchez and GregoriusCharles Wenzelberg/New York Post
For now, Gregorius is the starting shortstop and a key left-handed bat in a lineup that includes right-handed sluggers Judge, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton. On Friday, Gregorius hit cleanup, following Stanton and Sanchez, with Judge getting the night off.
Facing a Houston team that ended the Yankees’ season in the ALCS last October, Gregorius said he’s trying to keep his attention on the present and not what might happen in the future.
“It’s not something that’s in my hands, so why focus on anything else?” the 28-year-old Gregorius said. “It’s not gonna help me. It might affect me at some point, but if I think about that, it might hurt the way I play. So I don’t let it get into my head. I just want to play my game.”
The Yankees were mentioned as a possible landing spot for Machado last offseason, when it appeared Baltimore might trade their star before losing him to free agency.
Sending their marquee player to The Bronx seems unlikely, but with the Yankees determined to stay under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold this season, they are primed to make a run at Machado following this season, when he will still be just 26.
He is back at his natural shortstop position and would intrigue any team that could afford him.
“All I know is, I’m here and he’s not here,” said Gregorius, who hit a career-high 25 homers a year ago despite missing much of the first month of the season with a shoulder injury suffered during the World Baseball Classic. “If he’s on my team, it’s different.”
Gregorius said the Yankees have not approached him about an extension, but he would consider it if they did.
“I would listen and see what they can offer,” Gregorius said. “But that’s not up to me. I’m going to wait and see what happens, just like everybody else. First, we all have a lot to play for here, and I just want to do that.
Jeremy Hellickson will have to prove himself again.
The Des Moines native could have an opportunity to pitch his way into the Washington Nationals’ starting rotation after reportedly signing a minor-league contract with the team Friday.
ESPN was the first to report the deal.
Hellickson will reportedly be a nonroster invitee to spring training. It is another opportunity for the right-handed pitcher to prove his value, this time to the Nationals, who could use him at the back end of their rotation.
It’s nothing new for the former Des Moines Hoover High School star who has had to make his case to teams for awhile now. With free-agent possibility looming, Hellickson put together a solid 2016 season when he went 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies.
After looking at his options, Hellickson decided to accept the Phillies’ $17.2 million qualifying offer and avoid free agency. He returned to the Phillies where he tried to put together another strong resume for when he hit the market.
In 2017, Hellickson went 6-5 with a 4.73 ERA in 20 starts before being dealt to the Baltimore Orioles before the trade deadline. He went 2-6 with a 6.97 ERA in 10 starts with the Orioles.
The 30-year-old finally became a free agent in the offseason, but like many players, went unsigned for months. The offseason signing drought dragged for so long that Hellickson went to a special spring training for agent Scott Boras’ clients who didn’t have contracts.
Now that he has one, Hellickson will once again have to show he has something to offer. He owns a career record of 69-69 with a 4.12 ERA in 204 games including stints with Tampa Bay, Arizona, Philadelphia and Baltimore over the course of eight seasons.
Hellickson was a fourth-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2005. He made his big-league debut in 2010, won the American League Rookie of the Year in 2011 and shared a Gold Glove in 2012.
Just leave our conversation on the field. That’s the message Manny Machado had for Aaron Judge.
Machado finally weighed in Friday after the Yankee slugger was reprimanded by Major League Baseball earlier this week for talking about the Orioles star.
“I think it was just blown out of proportion,” Machado said, via The Baltimore Sun. “I’m always going to back him up. He’s a great kid and has a bright future ahead of him.”
“Everyone always jokes around about a lot of things, and things that we say on the field usually stay on the field,” Machado said. “I’ve told a lot of people they’d look good in black and orange as well, trying to get guys over here. It’s just part of the game. You want to put the best team out there on your field and if I’m a part of this team, I want to bring the best guys over here as much as I can. I want to get a ring as well.”
Judge gets call from Cashman after recruiting pitch to Machado
Manny Machado says Aaron Judge just needs to keep their on-field conversations to himself.
(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Judge caused a stir after sharing with reporters a conversation he had with Machado before a spring game in Sarasota on Wednesday.
“Adding him to our lineup that we’ve already got would be something special,” Judge said. “I told him he’d look good in pinstripes.”
That caught the attention of Major League Baseball.
Back page of the New York Daily News for March 15, 2018
(New York Daily News)
“We have been in contact with the Yankees,” MLB told the News in a statement. “They communicated to us that Mr. Judge’s off the cuff comments were not appropriate and not authorized by the club. They will speak to him to make sure this does not happen again.”
Judge avoids tamper trouble after pitching Machado on Yankees
“You learn something new every day,” Judge said after Cashman passed along MLB’s concerns.
“I reached out to Aaron to make sure he got the full perspective, obviously clearly from Baltimore’s perspective as well,” Cashman said. “There’s certainly no intentions on creating any difficulties for everybody. I made sure Aaron understood the commissioner’s perspective on it. He does.”
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