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Saturday, February 18, 2006

 

News and notes...

Haven't been here for a while, so a lot of catching up to do.

-In this recent sun article, after some Kris Benson notes, I saw some good news on David Newhan.

Outfielder David Newhan became the first non-pitcher or catcher to arrive at spring training yesterday, four days before the rest of the team is scheduled to report.Newhan, who lives in California, said he customarily likes to arrive early to get settled, but he didn't deny this spring carries extra significance after his struggles last year."It's definitely left a bad taste in my mouth," said Newhan of his 2005 season, when he hit .202 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 218 at-bats and was sent to Triple-A Ottawa twice. "But it pushed me to work harder and to be a better player. Failure is not always a bad thing."Newhan is hoping to find a spot in the Orioles' unsettled outfield. Jay Gibbons will start in right, but left and center field are up for grabs.

Hopefully Newhan can return to '04 form.

Some Javy 1B news...

Javy Lopez's work at first base in the first two days of camp has gotten positive reviews. "I talked to [infield coach] Dave Cash and he said that he didn't want to get too excited too soon," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He's surprising him. He's not surprising me as much."

Definitely good news. Looks like we might have a new starting 1B.

-Here's another sun article, highlighting LaTroy Hawkins.

"I'm a born leader, player," Hawkins said. "I'm a born leader."Hawkins, the 33-year-old right-hander whom the Orioles acquired from the San Francisco Giants in December for disgruntled lefty Steve Kline, gives the club a much-needed veteran to set up inexperienced closer Chris Ray.Entering his 12th major league season, Hawkins believes he can help guide a staff that - at least for now - includes just one pitcher (Kris Benson) with more than six years of big league service time."That's the thing. I can lead, set a good example," Hawkins said. "I am easy to talk to. Whatever [younger pitchers] want to talk about, I am pretty sure I have done it and seen it. I've got some good friends who have done it and seen it and I've heard about it, on and off the field."

Hawkins and Ray will be key this season, and I think they'll produce.

-This is a nice little article about Javy and Ramon.

One of Lopez's first orders of business after arriving at Fort Lauderdale Stadium yesterday morning for his physical was to walk over to Hernandez's locker and greet the Orioles' new catcher, who was signed to a four-year, $27.5 million deal in December.The two spoke for several minutes and Hernandez admitted later that the conversation helped to ease anxiety he had about his reception by Lopez, who has discussed his frustration with the Orioles' decision to sign another catcher."He's a guy who has plenty of more years [than me], so you've got to wait when he decides to say hi," said Hernandez. "You've got to respect that. When he came over to me, it was exciting. When you have a guy like that who wants to help, that's great.

Looks like Javy might be accepting his role at 1B.

B-Rob update...

Not wanting to cause any hard feelings with one of their best and most popular players, the Orioles avoided salary arbitration with All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts yesterday, signing him to a one-year, $3.075 million contract with incentives if he reaches 600 plate appearances.

Hopefully Brian will never have to go through arbitration.

Possible(or probable in my opinion) signing...

The Orioles have offered free-agent outfielder Richard Hidalgo a minor league deal laden with incentives, and are awaiting word on whether he'll accept.Hidalgo could make his decision as early as today. The 30-year-old hit .221 last season with 16 homers and 43 RBIs in 308 at-bats for the Texas Rangers.The right-handed-hitting outfielder, who is known for his outfield arm, hit 25 or more homers in two previous seasons and had a career-high 44 homers in 2000. If he signs, he could contend for the starting left-field spot.

This would be a very good signing in my opinion. He has a cannon for and arm and would be the best LF defensively(not much competition with only Conine and Millar) the second he stepped in to O's camp. Also, he has the potential to hit 30 HR's(he got 16 in a down year, pretty good for a player that we could sign to a minor-league contract).

-The O's acquired Andy Tracy today. He will most likely not make the big club, and will end up playing 1B in Ottawa this season.

On a more important note, another OFer fighting for a starting spot arrived today, 2 days ahead of schedule.

Center fielder Corey Patterson is eager to begin his career anew with the Orioles.Acquired during the offseason in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, Patterson arrived in camp Saturday - two days before position players are scheduled to report.

I see Corey beating out Matos for the CF position, and hopefully returning to '04 form(like Newhan).

-Here are tidbits from 2 of Roch Kubatko's blog.

Kris Benson is adding a splitter and curveball to a reportoire that includes his fastball, splitter, and changeup. He met with Mazzone three times in Atlanta to work on the pitches. Mazzone noted that Benson demonstrated "real good control" during their sessions and was extremely coachable.

Looks like Benson is commited to be the #1 or #2 starter we need him to be.

And a few injury notes...

Two reliever are on the shelf, but hopefully only for a brief period. When I left camp today, the Orioles were waiting for the results of Aaron Rakers' magnetic resonance imaging test on his right shoulder. And Todd Williams was excused early from workouts because of soreness in his right shoulder.

I don't think Williams' injury is too serious, but Raker's injury is one to keep an eye on.

-Here's some less relevant news...

Albert Belle tracked his ex-girlfriend with a GPS device and repeatedly threatened her, according to a police probable cause statement filed in support of stalking charges. The 39-year-old former Oriole was arrested in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Thursday and charged with stalking. He made an initial court appearance late Thursday, and a judge set bail at $108,000, ordered him to be electronically monitored and to stay away from the woman.

What a freak. Talk about OJII.

Here's a quote I found very funny...

"You didn't write a story about my Hall of Fame induction," said Belle, referring to joining the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame last year. "You guys never report the good stuff that I do."

Maybe the media will start doing that when you stop stalking people and chasing trick or treaters.

That's all I've got for now. I'll probably start writing more when the season starts, so keep checking back.

Baseball is back! Go O's!

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