Tagged: Olympics

Rockies mining for gold in Beijing

The U.S. Olympic Baseball Team plays Cuba Friday in the semi-final round of the Olympics, and several members of the Rockies’ organization have been key contributors. 

Super prospect Dexter Fowler is batting .333 (7-for-21) with three doubles, a triple and two RBIs. Fowler was instrumental in Team USA’s 4-2 win over Chinese Taipei, which clinched the U.S.’s spot in the medal round. The lean outfielder went 3-for-3 with a triple and an RBI double in the game. Fowler recently wrote about his Olympic experiences in a player journal you can read here.
Reliever Casey Weathers has also been impressive in Beijing. Weathers, who was selected by the Rockies in the first round of the 2007 First Year Player’s Draft, has struck out five and given up three hits in three innings. The powerful right-hander gave up two runs in the 11th inning of Team USA’s 4-2 win over Japan on Wednesday, but neither were earned because of the Olympic rule that states each team must start with runners on first and second past the 10th inning.
Several members of the Rockies’ big league club were extremely upset to hear about teammate Jayson Nix’s unfortunate injury in Beijing, but Team USA coach Davey Johnson said Nix may be ready to go for Friday’s semi-final game against Cuba. Nix was 2-for-10 with a double and a home run before sustaining a laceration in his left upper eyebrow on Aug. 14 after a bunted ball bounced into his face in the 11th inning against Cuba. 
Jeff Birnbaum

Van Mil returns from Olympics early

Twins prospect Loek Van Mil suffered a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament during a bullpen session in Beijing, China and was sent to the Twin Cities for further testing.

The 7-foot-1 pitcher had been selected to the squad representing the Netherlands.

He could miss the rest of the season. Van Mil was 2-2 with a 3.22 ERA and three saves for Single-A Beloit.

— Thor Nystrom

Rangers Roundup: Enjoy it while it lasts

As most of you are probably aware, baseball will not be an Olympic sport in 2012 and 2016 doesn’t look promising. So, this year’s Summer Games may be the last to include America’s pastime, but it just so happens that the Rangers have two players representing their respective countries.

Catcher Taylor Teagarden left Triple-A Oklahoma to play for Team USA while catcher Emerson Frostad left Double-A Frisco to play for Team Canada. The Olympic Baseball schedule gets underway on Aug. 13.

For those of you interested in the full Olympic Baseball schedule, check it out.

Speaking of enjoying it while it lasts…

Justin Smoak and Robbie Ross – Texas’ top two overall picks in the First-Year Player Draft –  have less than five days left to sign with the Rangers.

Ross, a left-handed pitcher, sounded pretty confident that he would eventually get his $1.5 million signing bonus, while calls to the Smoak residence weren’t returned, so the switch-hitting first baseman may be in a position where he really can’t discuss his situation.

Smoak would be a senior at the University of South Carolina if he doesn’t sign and Ross would be a freshman at the University of Kentucky.

General manager Jon Daniels was measured in his responses when discussing the status of the contract negotiations with Dustin Bledsoe, who represents both Smoak and Ross. But Daniels did squeeze in one deadpan joke.

When asked if it was any significance – positive or negative – that both players had the same representative, Daniels answered, “Not really, other than saving on the phone bill a little bit.”

Daniels did say that there were no huge obstacles to overcome in the negotiations, so it should just be a matter of matching up on dollars.

Daniels also went philosophical in explaining how Major League Baseball is such a “deadline driven industry.” As a result, for whatever reason, trades, arbitration and contract negotiations all tend to move along slowly until a deadline approaches.

This was the case last August when Texas signed first-round pick Blake Beavan on Aug. 14 and its third overall pick Julio Borbon on Aug. 15.

Then again, baseball isn’t alone. Deadlines seem to bring out the best in all of us, don’t they?

All teams must have their draft picks signed by midnight (ET) on Aug. 15. For more on Smoak, Ross, what Daniels had to say, and what former Rangers first-round picks think about when the right time to sign is, check the Rangers official site.

Since the last ‘Roundup’

-Brian Gordon (3-4) took two losses for Oklahoma. He has a 9.00 ERA in his last four starts.

-Despite an 0-for-5 day Saturday, Joaquin Arias is 9-for-23 in his last five games, collecting multiple hits in the other four games. Two of those nine hits were of the home run variety, giving him six on the season to go along with his .290 average.

-Doug Mathis pitched three scoreless innings on Sunday in his first rehab start with Oklahoma. On the disabled list since June 16 with inflammation in his right shoulder, Mathis allowed just two walks in the start and struck out four.

-Nelson Cruz received an injection in his strained left quad last week, but is still a week or so away from returning to action.

-John Mayberry Jr. continues to have a much more productive August after hitting .158 in July. In nine games this month, Mayberry is 12-for-38 (.316), despite a couple 0-for-4 days. However, he hasn’t gone deep since the first day of the month and his last RBI came the day after that.

-Max Ramirez remains on the disabled list with a hip flexor injury.

-Catcher Michael Pina has a five-game hitting streak for Frisco, going 7-for-18 during that span with three RBI and a stolen base. Pina was called up from High-A Bakersfield when Frostad left for the Olympics.

-Borbon has cooled off recently, going 4-for-20 in his last five games with one walk, no stolen bases and one caught stealing.

-After going 7-for-19 with a home run, three RBI and a stolen base in a four-game stretch from Aug. 2-6, Elvis Andrus has two hits in his last four games (.143), but has still swiped two bases during that span.

-Jose Vallejo is 7-for-21 in his last five games with a home run and a stolen base.

-Pitching on five day’s rest, Neftali Feliz took his first loss at Frisco, allowing two earned on three hits and two walks in four innings. Oh yeah, Feliz struck out eight batters. Feliz should be pitching on a mound near you as Frisco returns home on Aug. 13 for a six-game homestand.

-Kevin Millwood had a rehab start with Frisco on Sunday, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits and two walks while striking out six in a losing effort. He threw 42 of 74 pitches for strikes in four innings and will probably rejoin the Texas rotation Saturday.

—Shawn Shroyer

Rangers Roundup: Relief on the way

It’s no secret the Rangers’ pitching situation at the Major League level has been chaotic. Texas has used 10 rookie pitchers this season. Friday night, Tommy Hunter became the seventh rookie to start a game for the Rangers this season – a club record. To top it off, Andy Hawkins and Jim Colborn were installed to replace pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Dom Chiti, respectively, at the conclusion of the game Hunter started.

The Texas rotation currently consists of Vicente Padilla, Luis Mendoza, Matt Harrison, Scott Feldman and Hunter. Padilla is the only veteran of the five, let alone proven veteran.

Mendoza entered 2008 with 16 Major League innings under his belt. Harrison began the season at Double-A Frisco and spent some of his time there on the disabled list. Feldman had 89 2/3 innings of Major League experience coming into this season, but had never started a Major League game. He’s actually been one of the most dependable of Texas’ pitchers, but was shut down last month in an attempt to cut down his innings. Injuries to the rotation have dragged him back into the rotation. As for Hunter, he began his trek to the big leagues this season at High-A Bakersfield. At this point last season, Hunter was pitching in his first professional season.

However, there is hope that these resilient youngsters will be relieved of duty soon and be allowed to drop down to their appropriate Minor League affiliates.

Brandon McCarthy, rehabbing a case of severe elbow inflammation, pitched 5 1/3 innings Friday for Triple-A Oklahoma. Although he allowed five runs on six hits and two walks, the most important number was his 89 pitches thrown. Once he’s able to stretch his arm out, then he’ll be able to hone his pitches in preparation of rejoining the Texas rotation.

Last Sunday, McCarthy went 4 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits and three walks while striking out five. He tossed 82 pitches in that outing.

Kiko Calero, who could be an asset in the Rangers bullpen down the road, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of McCarthy on Friday. He allowed one hit and struck out one. However, on July 28, he allowed six runs in 1/3 of an inning, blowing a save opportunity in the process.

Doug Mathis, who is rehabbing a case of shoulder inflammation, is scheduled to throw two innings today in Phoenix. If all goes well, logic would say a rehab assignment would follow.

On July 30, Joaquin Benoit started for Frisco, but pitched only one inning and got out of there. In his inning of work, Benoit struck out two of the batters he faced, throwing 10 of 16 pitches for strikes.

When Benoit departed, Thomas Diamond came in and pitched four innings, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four. He threw just 46 of 81 pitches for strikes.

Benoit is rehabbing an inflamed right shoulder and Diamond is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and pitching with a bone spur in his ankle. Benoit is expected to pitch two innings at Oklahoma today. There was an outside chance that Diamond might reach Arlington this season, but that’s looking less and less likely.

Max Ramirez lands on DL

Max Ramirez was placed on the disabled list after injuring his hip flexor on July 30 with Oklahoma.

?? (Goodbye)

Catchers Taylor Teagarden and Emerson Frostad have left the Rangers organization temporarily to join their respective National teams in preparation for the Beijing Olympics. Teagarden, who had been at Oklahoma, will be representing the United States. Frostad, who had been at Frisco, will be representing Canada.

Nelson Cruz Update

Triple-A extraordinaire Nelson Cruz has gone homerless since July 27, when he hit No. 37 for Oklahoma. There were rumors that Cruz might be traded before the non-waiver Trade Dealine, but that didn’t happen. Cruz is batting .344 with 98 RBI after going 2-for-3 with a double on Friday, but he left the game after straining a quad sliding into second base in the fifth inning.

Mayberry welcomes August with a bang

John Mayberry Jr., who hit .158 in the month of July, went 1-for-3 Friday with Oklahoma, belting his 13th home run of the season.

Stealing fiends

Elvis Andrus, Julio Borbon and Jose Vallejo are up to 43, 44 and 34 stolen bases this season, respectively.

Short, but Feliz

In his last start for Frisco on July 28, Neftali Feliz went just 3 1/3 innings, but a scoreless 3 1/3 innings nonetheless. He allowed just three hits and one walk and struck out four as his ERA shrank to 2.21. He threw 35 of his 57 pitches for strikes.

—Shawn Shroyer

Golden Knight?

Brandon Knight, who threw five innings and allowed four runs for the Mets Saturday, didn’t stick around in New York for more than one start. He was designated for assignment Sunday — demoted back to Triple-A in favor of another relief arm in the form of Willie Collazo — but that’s not necessarily a disappointment for the 32-year-old journeyman.

“You can’t lose either way,” Knight said Friday.

That’s because once Knight was given the word that he wouldn’t be needed by the Mets, he was allowed to rejoin the U.S. Olympic team Monday and work out the final processing details required for participation in Beijing, China. He’ll can now eye a gold medal instead of a spot in the big club’s pitching corps.

Almost a year after considering retirement because of an unsuccessful tryout in Mexico, Knight climbed the ladder from Somerset (N.J) in the Atlantic League to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans. He had compiled a 5-1 record and a 1.60 ERA with the Zephyrs.

The Mets’ farm system has another Olympian, as well, Double-A Binghamton second baseman Emmanuel Garcia, who will represent team Canada in the 2008 Summer Games. Garcia, 22, is a native of Montreal and signed as a non-draft free agent in 2004. As of Sunday, he was batting .244 with 48 runs scored and 17 stolen bases in 91 games.

-Jon Blau

Liriano update and notes from around the Minors

Twins fans are going to have to wait a bit longer for the return of starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, the Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen reports.

 

The young lefty has won nine consecutive decisions and is 5-0 with a 0.29 ERA and 42 strikeouts for Triple-A Rochester in his last five starts.

 

Liriano will make his regularly scheduled start with the Red Wings on Sunday, squashing any speculation that he could join the big league club over the weekend.

 

“He’s not here,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I don’t think he’s going to opt out of it. I think that’s his rotation spot, and that’s where he’ll be pitched. I can only control my guys here. I can’t control those things.”

 

MLB.com Twins beat writer Kelly Thesier chronicled Liriano’s continued dominance in the Minors following his most recent start on Tuesday.

 

“I’m ready,” Liriano told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle after pitching seven scoreless innings in a 13-0 win over Toledo.

Duensing to Olympics

 

Rochester lefty Brian Duensing will be heading to Beijing shortly to take part in the Olympics. Duensing will join the U.S. team on Monday for exhibition games in Durham, N.C., on Aug. 1-3 before heading to China.

Revere still hot

 

The Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III reported last week on Beloit outfielder Ben Revere’s flirtation with hitting .400 this year. Revere was the Twins’ 2007 first round pick.

The report also includes these tidbits:

 

-Beloit reliever Loek Van Mil will pitch in the Olympics for the Netherlands team.

 

– Top Twins prospect Tyler Robertson, a Class-A Fort Myers lefty, has been shelved with shoulder soreness. The Twins, however, hope he can return before the season’s end.

 

–Thor Nystrom