O's send Josh Bell back to minors; call up Chris Tillman

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As expected, the Orioles have sent third baseman Josh Bell back to Triple-A Norfolk in order to make room for Saturday’s starter Chris Tillman.

As if facing the Rangers offense isn’t intimidating enough, Tillman will oppose the newly-acquired Cliff Lee, who is making debut with the club.

Tillman is 0-3 with an 8.40 ERA over four starts with the O’s this season. While he hasn’t found much success in the majors yet, the 22-year-old right-hander is 8-4 with a 2.72 ERA in 13 starts with the Tides this season. He’s coming off a complete-game one-hit shutout on Monday.

As for Bell, he didn’t play a whole lot since he was called up from the minors on July 1. He was 3-for-15 (.200) during his brief stay with the team. While he’s better off getting regular at-bats in the minor leagues, the 23-year-old told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he saw his first taste of the majors as a learning opportunity

“It is a good situation for me, regardless,” Bell said. “Because if I am
not playing, then I am watching and learning. And if I am playing,
well, that’s a great experience.”

Bell, who was acquired from the Dodgers in last July’s George Sherrill trade, was batting .266/.311/.455 with 10 homers and 44 RBI before getting the call from Triple-A Norfolk. He was ranked as the organization’s No. 2 prospect (and top position prospect) by Baseball America over the winter. Don’t be surprised if he is up for good later this season. 

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.