Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Orioles Notebook

As reported in the Washington Post:

Lopez May Miss a Few More Games
By Jorge Arangure Jr.Washington Post Staff WriterTuesday, May 2, 2006; Page E10
BALTIMORE, May 1 -- The Baltimore Orioles' clubhouse continues to resemble an infirmary, leaving the team short-handed because of injuries. Manager Sam Perlozzo said designated hitter Javy Lopez likely would miss several more games because of back spasms, and first baseman Kevin Millar would miss at least another game because of a bruised right hand. But at least shortstop Miguel Tejada, who is nursing a sore left knee, might be ready to return to the field. Tejada has been the designated hitter the past two games in order to remain in the lineup and keep intact his consecutive games streak, which stands at 995, the longest in the majors. Tejada said he likely would be back at shortstop on Tuesday.
"I don't want to rush it," he said.

Perlozzo said he has noticed that Tejada has not been fond of the DH role, which he's had for only four games in his career.
"I doubt Miggy wants to DH very much," Perlozzo said. "It's a necessary evil. We just have to get him back."
Tejada entered Monday with an American League-best .422 average.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Clayton, Ravens give back for Thanksgiving

“I used to be in this line a long time ago when things weren't going so well for my family, so I know what that's like,” said Clayton, who was flanked by his mother, JacQuetta Clayton, at the John Eager Howard Recreation Center on Brookfield Ave. “Life is about helping people, and I’ve been very blessed. I’ve been very fortunate, getting drafted in the first round and playing in the NFL. "Whatever you can do to brighten someone’s holiday, I’m going to try to do. You put a smile on people’s faces and you get a smile in return. My mother raised me to give something back to the community."JacQuetta Clayton contacted local officials and asked them to identify families in need of assistance. From there, the Claytons partnered with businesses such as Unilever, Frito-Lay, lawyer Steven H. Heisler, The Bakers’ Union and Schmidt Bakery to put together a care package of 12-pound turkeys, rolls, potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, dessert, soap and laundry detergent.“When you see these people’s faces, you see how it makes their lives better and how appreciative they are of the effort,” JacQuetta Clayton said. “Care is the key, and care is what you’re going to get with Mark. I’m very proud that he hasn’t forgotten where he came from.”Clayton wasn’t alone in providing some holiday relief on Tuesday as players distributed 1,200 turkeys in five locations.Middle linebacker Ray Lewis handed out dinners with all the trimmings to 400 families at Francis M. Wood School in Baltimore. Safety Ed Reed hosted an event at Booker T. Washington Middle School. Tight end Darnell Dinkins was at Paul’s Place Outreach Center. And the Ravens’ running backs were at Owen Brown Interfaith Center.“We hear a lot of negative connotations about athletes, that they don’t care about the community, that they only care about a paycheck, that they’re selfish,” Baltimore City Councilman Keiffer Mitchell Jr. said. “Mark Clayton has obviously shown that’s not the case with all athletes.“For a rookie, for a No. 1 draft pick, to come out here when the Ravens are having a down year and to take time out and help people, that means a lot. Without this food, it would be a very tough Thanksgiving for these families who are struggling to make ends meet. They are very grateful.”While loading up a cardboard box with cranberry sauce and stuffing, Annette Matthews reflected on what the holiday means to her.“I just lost my sister, so it's nice to see that someone cares about us,” said Matthews, accompanied by her two children. “We're not being forgotten.”Growing up in suburban Grand Prairie, Texas, Clayton wasn’t initially enthused when his mother asked him and his brother to pass out food to the homeless at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center in downtown Dallas.“At first, I just wanted to stay home and watch football, but looking back now it was a great thing,” said Clayton, who donated $20,000 to benefit victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that were relocated to Texas. “Now, I’m able to help people on my own. It’s about giving back.“It’s about helping people and making sure that they have a nice Thanksgiving. I couldn’t imagine not being here and helping people out. It makes them feel good and it makes you feel good.”NOTE: Former Ravens majority owner Art Modell was named to a list of 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That list will be pared down to 15 finalists and voted on Feb. 4 at the Super Bowl in Detroit. Modell, who retains a 1-percent ownership of the team, wasn't a finalist last year.

Ravens to use RB Taylor more, Lewis less

His production has plummeted this season, and now Jamal Lewis can expect a reduction in playing time.
Lewis has started every game, a trend that should continue in Week 12 in Cincinnati. But Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick has grown impatient waiting for the 2003 NFL offensive player of the year to get into a groove, and has decided to give more carries to backup Chester Taylor.
Taylor ran 19 times for 59 yards and caught four passes for 26 yards in a 16-13 overtime win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 20. Lewis received only three carries after halftime and finished with 28 yards on 13 attempts.
"Chester seemed to get into a pretty good rhythm," Billick said. "He hit a couple of things, in combination with trying to get him the ball out of the backfield a little bit."
Lewis and Taylor both become unrestricted free agents after this season, and the Ravens need to decide which one to bring back next year. Because Baltimore (3-7) is all but out of contention for a playoff berth, much of the importance of the last six games is determining jobs for 2006.
It's hard to imagine Lewis being in this situation, given that he started the season with 5,763 career yards rushing compared to Taylor's 1,112.
Lewis ran for 2,066 yards in 2003, the second-highest total in league history. He gained 1,006 last year despite missing four games and receiving only five carries in another.
This season, however, has been a major disappointment. Lewis has yet to get a 100-yard game, hasn't had a run over 25 yards since the opener and is averaging a mere 3.0 yards per carry. He has one touchdown rushing, compared to 14 in 2003.
"I wish I could put my finger on it. He's healthy, he's running hard. He's practicing hard. There's plenty of want there," Billick said. "Why we haven't gotten that break-a-tackle, step aside and get the big run, I'm sure he's scratching his head as much as we are."
It could be because Lewis spent the offseason serving prison time for a guilty plea to using a cell phone to set up a drug buy in 2000. Maybe it's the ankle surgery he had in February that caused him to miss much of the preseason.
Or, it's all of the above.
"All the things we've commented on before, the offseason, the rehab, the training camp, the whole nine yards, yeah, they are factors," Billick said.
Lewis lost a fumble in the second quarter against Pittsburgh and walked off the field to jeers from the home crowd.
"I've been through much worse, trust me. That's really nothing. That doesn't do anything to my confidence level," Lewis said after the game. "I know the type of running back I am and I know what I can do. I don't let nobody control that but me."
Lewis has been outdone by Taylor, who has 300 yards on 67 carries, an average of 4.5 yards per carry.
After the 2000 season, the Ravens decided to keep Lewis over backup Priest Holmes. Come January, Baltimore must choose between Lewis or Taylor.
"We can practice, we can have training camp, we can have preseason games, and that's all well and good. But the only real valid evaluation you can draw from any player comes in a game," Billick said. "We have six more opportunities to get some great evaluation done."
Winning, however, remains a priority.
"We've got two good backs," Billick said. "We're going to need both backs through the rest of the year and we'll use both backs in whatever combination we think is necessary to A, win the game, always, and B, to give them both a chance to hopefully get a rhythm."
Taylor was the most productive back against the Steelers, and will continue to see plenty of action the rest of way.
"I have no doubt that Chester can be an every-down back. That is not part of my thought process right now," Billick said. "I don't need to know any more about Chester Taylor to know that he is an outstanding back and can be a lead back for a team. I also know that Jamal Lewis has been, and will be, a great lead back for any team, regardless of what he's going through right now."

Sosa, Palmeiro not returning to O's

Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa won't be with the Orioles in 2006.
The two players were disappointments for the Orioles in 2005 for different reasons, and executive vice president Mike Flanagan confirmed on Sunday what many had believed for a while.
"At this point, we are heading in a different direction," Flanagan told The Baltimore Sun.
The Orioles acquired Sosa in a trade last winter while looking for a bat that would add some more punch to their lineup. Instead, he never got going and hit only .221 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs.
Sosa also missed time with injuries and struggled from start to finish, never finding his way in the American League. He now has 588 home runs and reportedly is interested in trying to reach the 600-homer milestone. Sosa has denied reports that he will play in Japan next year.
Palmeiro had a true up-and-down season. He got his 3,000th hit against Seattle in July, but everything fell apart after that. The first baseman/designated hitter was suspended shortly thereafter for testing positive in a drug test and only played a little after that while gaining national notoriety because he had told a Congressional hearing that he'd never used steroids.
The question now is who might be interested in the two players. Palmeiro might still want to play to end his career on a better note and possibly explain the circumstances of the drug test.
Both would seem to be a solution for a team that needs designated hitters. Palmeiro was supposed to be that for the Orioles, but eventually became the everyday first baseman. Sosa eventually moved into the designated hitter role as the season moved on.

Flanagan said last week that the Orioles are hopeful to have a season that was more like the first part of last year, when they competed for the American League East title.
"I think we're going into the winter optimistic," Flanagan said. "The club had a lot of distractions, to say the least."