New skipper, same results in Baltimore

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Juan Samuel Orioles.jpgClay Buchholz ruined Juan Samuel’s first game as O’s interim manager, tossing a complete-game five-hit shutout as part of an 11-0 victory on Friday night. The Orioles have now lost nine consecutive games and enter play on Saturday at 15-40. They currently sit an incredible 21 games behind the first-place Rays in the American League East.

It doesn’t look like things are going to get magically better any time soon, but Samuel’s sense of humor is still intact. For now, anyway. (via Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com).

“Well, we got the first one out of the way for me.”

Friday’s starter Chris Tillman was only able to record four outs before he was yanked
after 57 pitches, giving up four runs on five hits while walking two and
striking out two. It was only his second start back in the big leagues, but the young right-hander is symptomatic of a core of young players — including Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen — who have taken a “giant step” backward this season, according to team president Andy MacPhail.

It’s hard for MacPhail to preach patience when the team needs to try to sell tickets — especially with the excitement in the region tilting in the Nationals’ favor — but let’s just say that the young core mentioned above isn’t the only thing that has diverted off course in the past year. I believe the Orioles unfairly raised the expectations of their fanbase by bringing in veterans like Kevin Millwood, Mike Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins this winter when they really didn’t need to.

The injuries to Gonzalez and Brian Roberts haven’t helped their plight, but contending should never have been a consideration this season anyway. The Gonzalez signing was especially absurd at the time and looks even more egregious now. With that being said, I still trust MacPhail’s overall vision for the franchise. I just hope it isn’t much longer before we see names like Millwood and Ty Wigginton give way to promising youngsters like Jake Arrietta and Josh Bell.  
 

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.

It’s not known yet what kind of contract the two sides are negotiating. It could be a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, a non-guaranteed major league contract, or a guaranteed major league contract.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.