You've heard manager Buck Showalter rave about shortstop J.J. Hardy's defense. What does Hall of Famer Cal Ripken think about it?
Funny I asked.
"He doesn't do it flashy," Ripken said yesterday as we kicked back in the seats at the Aberdeen stadium that bears his last name. "He knows himself, he gets good jumps on the ball, he gets good reads, he positions himself well. I like all the little fundamental things he does. He gets there early on steal coverages, he makes tags the right way, he's in the right position early on cutoffs and relays. You can tell that he's a thinker. He thinks about the game, he thinks about what his responsibilities are. And he doesn't make the highlight reel because he's not that flashy-type player. He makes the hard plays look much easier than they are."
Ripken was especially impressed by the play Hardy made on the ball that skipped off the edge of the infield grass.
"If you're in your position early and you're anticipating, not the good hop but the bad hop, then you're ready for it," Ripken said. "Those are the small, little things he does. Even on a double-play throw, one of the most common mistakes that big league players make, and any guys make, is they go to second base anticipating that it's going to be a good throw so they can turn it. But players like J.J. go there thinking, 'OK, this might be a bad throw.' If it's a good throw, it makes it easy. If it is a bad throw, then you're already ready to catch it and at least get the out, or catch it and then finish the footwork that can let you turn the double play.
"To me, it's his approach all around. He's anticipating, he's thinking, he looks at all the possibilities."
A scout from outside the organization believes that the Orioles' success this year is due mainly to a better core group of players and a deeper rotation.
Yes, the Rockies are trying to trade Jeremy Guthrie. No, the Orioles aren't looking to reunite with him. They were determined to move Guthrie over the winter. It would take a drastic change in thinking for them to want him back. Don't waste your time mulling over the possibilities.
The Orioles are slowly getting healthy, with second baseman Brian Roberts back in the lineup, reliever Matt Lindstrom pitching in the Gulf Coast League and outfielder Endy Chavez insisting that his sore hamstring will be 100 percent before his 15 days are up. But outfielder Nolan Reimold is the exception. The news is getting worse.
Showalter told reporters yesterday that Reimold was being examined by a second cervical specialist in Baltimore, which meant that the first cervical specialist offered a negative diagnosis. The herniated disk in Reimold's neck is shrinking, but he still has tingling and weakness in his left arm. It's a nerve issue that could lead to surgery.
Showalter confirmed that Reimold won't return before the All-Star break, which came as no surprise. Reimold was a long way from being activated before the second examination. The hope is that the rest of his season isn't destroyed.
It's looking more grim by the day.
Do the Orioles have a true outfielder on their 25-man roster besides Adam Jones?
Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey has credited Showalter with jump-starting his career. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea to Showalter at the time.
Dickey has got to be named the starter for the National League in the All-Star Game. He's 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA. He's the first pitcher to throw back-to-back one-hitters since Dave Stieb in 1988. And according to Elias, he's the first pitcher in major league history with five consecutive starts of no earned runs and eight or more strikeouts.
Other than that...
Jake Arrieta had one bad inning out of seven last night, but I received plenty of "same old Jake" tweets. He held the Pirates to one run in seven innings and shut out the Mets through five before Ike Davis' grand slam. He came back out for the seventh and retired the side in order on three fly balls.
Roger Clemens is what?
The Orioles are 12-16 when their opponent scores first, 27-12 when they score first. They're also 9-19 when they score fewer than four runs, and they're 1-7 on Mondays.
Chris Davis is 0-for-14 on the road trip.
In his five road starts this season, Tommy Hunter is 0-2 with a 8.31 ERA in 26 innings and has allowed more home runs (nine) than walks (eight). Opponents are batting .358 against him on the road.
Now for the good news: In six career interleague starts, Hunter is 3-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 33 2/3 innings.
Scott Hairston is 2-for-3 with a home run off Hunter. Small sample size.
Hardy is 3-for-13 against Johan Santana, but that includes a double and triple.
What's Chris Gomez doing these days? He's 8-for-18 against Santana.
Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Lew Ford is 9-for-11 with two outs and runners in scoring position. Last night, the Buffalo Bisons walked him intentionally with runners on second and third, two outs and Miguel Tejada on deck.
Tejada reached on shortstop Ronny Cedeno's throwing error. He's 6-for-36 in his last 10 games and is batting .267 with no home runs.
Outfielder Xavier Avery is 5-for-10 with six walks, seven runs scored and five stolen bases over his last four games.
Jason Berken is winless in 13 starts with the Tides, but he's got a 2.47 ERA.