www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/blog/bal-manny-machado-rule-changes-dipping-tobacco-among-topics-at-state-of-the-orioles-address-20140628,0,4529133.story

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Machado suspension, dipping tobacco among topics at State of the Orioles

By Alejandro Zuniga, The Baltimore Sun

5:49 PM EDT, June 28, 2014

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With a decision on Manny Machado’s appeal to reduce a five-game suspension still pending, the third baseman played Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

But executive vice president Dan Duquette, speaking before the game to several hundred season-ticket holders at the annual "State of the Orioles" address, said Major League Baseball should reconsider why Machado was fined and suspended for throwing his bat against the Oakland Athletics on June 8 while reliever Fernando Abad, who threw near Machado’s knees twice, received just an undisclosed fine.

“When [Abad] comes in from the bullpen, and he goes after the league’s best defensive player in an area where he’s had an injury, and they want to dock [Machado] five games and the other guy escapes, that’s a gross inequity,” Duquette said. “Hopefully, reasonable people will apply a reasonable standard.”

Duquette accompanied Machado to the third baseman’s appeal hearing Wednesday at the Warehouse before Joe Garagiola Jr., baseball’s senior vice president of standards and on-field operations. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he doesn’t know when the verdict will be announced and the suspension will begin.

“You should have seen [Duquette] plead Manny’s case in that hearing,” Showalter said. “He should be a lawyer.”

Here are more highlights from the "State of the Orioles" address:

-- Showalter said he appreciates that more close plays are being called correctly under the new replay rules, and the manager foresees a time when umpire reviews are as seamless as in college football. But he was quick to point out that the system isn’t perfect.

“What they decide doesn’t mean we were wrong,” Showalter said. “I think if you challenge a play … and it came back inconclusive — that the rule hasn’t been overturned — you shouldn’t lose your challenge. You’re not saying we were wrong, so why should we lose a challenge?”

-- Showalter said there have been fewer arguments between managers and umpires this year because of the technology, though he joked that umpires don’t seem to mind.

Though he said it was explained poorly to teams in the spring, Showalter believes baseball was correct to implement a rule reducing home-plate collisions.

Rule 7.13 forbids catchers from blocking the path of a runner who is trying to score except on force plays.

Catchers have had to learn to position themselves differently, but Showalter said the inconvenience of some initial uncertainty was worth the reward.

“I applaud the rule and what it’s trying to get at,” Showalter said, “but at the same time, we got to be careful about taking away the essence of the game.”

-- When asked about the prevalent use of dipping tobacco among baseball players, Duquette said baseball has the proper educational programs in place to help break addictions.

There are several players in the Orioles organization actively trying to quit, Duquette said. The executive vice president said his children helped him quit about 20 years ago and that he hasn’t used dipping tobacco since.

“There’s a lot of good reasons not to do it, and we continue to fight that fight and help our players and staff,” Duquette said.

Duquette hopeful for Bundy, Reimold

Dylan Bundy will make his next start for High-A Frederick on Thursday, the Orioles announced Saturday afternoon, and Duquette is hopeful the right-hander will contribute in the major leagues this year.

A year removed from right elbow ligament replacement surgery, the 21-year-old allowed just one run, 10 hits and struck out 22 batters in 15 innings for short-season Single-A Aberdeen. He had a 0.60 ERA there.

Friday, in his last start with the IronBirds, Bundy tossed five scoreless innings against Hudson Valley, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out seven batters. He threw 70 pitches, 48 of them strikes.

The right-hander, who was the club’s first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft, made two relief appearances with the Orioles in 2012.

“He’s doing well, throwing all his pitches across the plate,” Duquette said. “A couple of more starts, he’ll be off the rehab and he’ll be in the competitive stage, and then hopefully he’ll be ready to help us later on.”

Duquette also remains optimistic that Nolan Reimold, whose 20-game rehabilitation assignment window ends Sunday, will join the club later this season. The outfielder has been set back by multiple neck injuries throughout his major league career, but he’s hitting .326 at Double-A Bowie.

“He’s done well,” Duquette said. “He’s on his way back.”

Meek, Brach save bullpen

Doubleheaders can strain a club’s bullpen, but a pair of Orioles relievers made sure they escaped relatively unscathed after Friday’s twin bill against the Rays.

After a short start by Kevin Gausman, right-handers Evan Meek and Brad Brach combined for four scoreless innings in the afternoon game. Chris Tillman pitched an eight-inning gem Friday night, so the Orioles had several arms available Saturday.

“Oh, jeez, I would have signed up for that in blood,” Showalter said Friday. “That's a real tribute to the job Brach and Evan did, and of course the job Tillman did.”

Brach was particularly effective, striking out four of the seven batters he faced and lowering his ERA to 4.30. The right-hander has allowed runs in just two of his six appearances this month.

“With the stretch coming up like we have, it’s important to eat up as many innings as you can,” Brach said. “How I feel physically is really encouraging.”

Around the horn

Infielder Michael Almanzar joined Triple-A Norfolk on a major league rehab assignment, the Tides announced. Almanzar was the Orioles’ Rule 5 draft pick last December. … Three children with life-threatening illnesses watched Saturday’s game from the Markakis Suite at Camden Yards. 14-year-old Johnathan, who is being treated for cancer; 6-year-old Landyn from York, Penn., who suffers from spina bifida; and 10-year-old Samuel of Abingdon, who has mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, were invited by Markakis and the Casey Cares Foundation. … Maryland women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese threw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday. Members of the Terps’ 2014 national championship team joined her on the infield. … The first 20,000 fans ages 15 and older at Sunday’s game will receive a 1954 Orioles cap.

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