Quick Links

Upton headed to Braves; Pettitte returns to Yanks

201211280846315970913-p2.jpeg

Upton headed to Braves; Pettitte returns to Yanks

B.J. Upton is on his way to Atlanta, while Andy Pettitte is staying in pinstripes.

With the winter meetings only days away, baseball's offseason began to heat up Wednesday with a pair of moves involving potential closers: Ryan Madson joined the Angels and Jonathan Broxton remained with the Reds.

Hours later, the Braves made big news.

Looking for a new center fielder and some right-handed pop, Atlanta found both in Upton, who had 28 homers and 31 steals for Tampa Bay last season. The fleet-footed free agent agreed to a $75.25 million, five-year contract, a deal that was finalized Thursday.

Upton's deal is the biggest free-agent contract of the offseason so far and the largest in Braves history.

Pettitte, meanwhile, will return for another season with the New York Yankees.

Feeling strong at age 40, the veteran lefty completed a one-year deal worth $12 million, putting baseball's biggest postseason winner back in the Bronx.

``I think we're good enough to go all the way, I really do,'' Pettitte said on a conference call. ``I'm at the point where, if I didn't feel like we had a chance to win it deep down, I wouldn't do this.''

The five-time World Series champion retired after the 2010 season to spend more time at home but then decided to come back this year - while working as an instructor during spring training - and signed a contract guaranteeing him $2.5 million.

Pettitte went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts. He missed almost three months because of a broken lower left leg, sustained when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Cleveland's Casey Kotchman on June 27.

``I definitely think that if I would have pitched a full season and thrown 200 innings, that I definitely wouldn't feel as fresh and physically feel as good as I do right now,'' Pettitte said. ``Obviously, I feel like that helped lead me to a quick decision.''

The move means the AL East champs are set to start 2013 with the same rotation as last season: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova or David Phelps.

Next up for general manager Brian Cashman could be a contract for 43-year-old closer Mariano Rivera, determined to come back from a torn knee ligament.

Madson is making a comeback from Tommy John surgery, and he agreed to a $3.5 million, one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels five days before the start of baseball's winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. He can earn an additional $3.5 million in roster and performance bonuses.

The longtime Philadelphia reliever missed last season with Cincinnati, which signed him in January after a stellar performance in 2011 with the Phillies. He had surgery in April on a torn ligament in his right elbow.

Well ahead of schedule in his recovery, Madson said he expects to be the Angels' closer. General manager Jerry Dipoto agreed the veteran is likely to supplant Ernesto Frieri when fully healthy.

``I feel like if I can throw the ball like I'm capable of, I expect to have that role,'' Madson said. ``I expect to come to spring training and earn the job.''

Broxton isn't sure what role he'll have in Cincinnati after securing a $21 million, three-year contract that gives the NL Central champions a chance to reconfigure their starting rotation.

The two-time All-Star came to the Reds last July in a trade with Kansas City. He filled in as the closer when Aroldis Chapman developed a tired shoulder and had four saves in six chances overall with a 2.82 ERA.

Now the Reds have the option of turning Chapman into a starter, which was the plan last season until Madson blew out his elbow. The team has told Chapman to prepare for next season as a starter, although it hasn't committed to Broxton as the closer.

``Nothing's in stone right now,'' assistant general manager Bob Miller said. ``When we talked to Jonathan we said he was going to be at the back end of the bullpen. What happens depends on spring training and how things play out in the offseason.''

Broxton wanted a multiyear deal so he could settle in one place. He didn't insist on assurances he'd be a closer.

``I went into the offseason with an open mind,'' Broxton said. ``I've got experience in both roles. Even if Chapman doesn't work out as a starter, he can come back in and fill in as the closer. I'll be happy to throw the eighth (inning). It doesn't matter. You saw what he did last year.''

The 28-year-old Upton hit .246 with 78 RBIs for the Rays last season. He will replace free agent Michael Bourn as the Braves' center fielder and should provide much-needed power from the right side.

Upton's first full season with Tampa Bay was 2007, when he hit a career-best .300 with 24 homers and 22 stolen bases. His home run totals have increased in each of the last three seasons, but he has hit below .250 with more than 150 strikeouts in four straight years.

Bourn was the Braves' leadoff hitter, but Upton is not expected to fill that role.

Elsewhere, the Boston Red Sox made a flurry of minor moves, trading right-handers Zach Stewart and Sandy Rosario as well as third baseman Danny Valencia.

Stewart was sent to Pittsburgh and Rosario to Oakland for players to be named. Valencia was shipped to Baltimore for cash.

Boston also hired Greg Colbrunn as hitting coach.

Athletics reliever Pat Neshek agreed to a $975,000, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration, while Kansas City traded right-hander Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson to the Pirates for minor league pitchers Luis Santos and Luis Rico.

The Chicago Cubs designated right-hander Casey Coleman for assignment to make roster room for newcomer Scott Feldman, who agreed to a $6 million, one-year contract the previous day.

Feldman's former team, the Texas Rangers, acquired right-hander Cory Burns from San Diego for a player to be named or cash.

---

AP Sports Writers Charles Odum, Greg Beacham and Joe Kay contributed to this report.

Quick Links

Orioles' Chris Tillman goes for 15th win against Colorado

Orioles' Chris Tillman goes for 15th win against Colorado

Tonight's Game: Colorado Rockies (47-52) vs. Baltimore Orioles (58-40), Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, 7:05 p.m.

Starting pitchers: Chad Bettis (8-6, 5.31) vs. Chris Tillman (14-2, 3.18)

Keys to the Game:

Can Chris Tillman stay on his roll? In each of his last four starts, he's pitched seven innings and allowed a run. He's averaged four hits allowed in those starts. 

Can the Orioles continue to win without scoring tons of runs? They haven't scored more than six in their last 14 games, and they're 9-5 in those games.

News and Notes:

Bettis pitched here on Aug. 17, 2013, allowing eight runs – six of them unearned – in 2 2/3 innings. 

Ubaldo Jimenez is scheduled to be activated from the paternity list. 

Hyun Soo Kim could be activated from the disabled list. Dariel Alvarez was sent to Triple-A Norfolk. 

The Orioles have won five straight. They have five winning streaks of five or more. 

Quick Links

Report: Padres trade Melvin Upton to AL East, but not Orioles

Report: Padres trade Melvin Upton to AL East, but not Orioles

The Orioles had spoken with San Diego about a proposed Ubaldo Jimenez for Melvin Upton, Jr. swap. It didn’t happen. 

According to a report from FOXsports.com, the Padres have agreed to send the outfielder to the Toronto Blue Jays for a minor league prospect. 

Upton is batting .256 with 16 home runs and 45 RBIs while Jimenez, who is scheduled to come off the paternity list is 5-9 with a 7.38 ERA. 

The Orioles basically wanted to swap contracts. Jimenez who the Orioles signed to a four-year, $50 million contract in Feb. 2014, is signed through next season. 

Upton, who is also signed through next year is owed about 40 percent of his $15,450,000 salary this year and $16,450,000 next year. 

On Friday, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said that the team was focusing on acquiring starting pitching, and not outfield help, but a few hours later, reports circulated that the team was making a play for Upton.

With Joey Rickard sidelined for several weeks, an Upton acquisition could have made sense for this year—and next. 

Mark Trumbo is unsigned for next year, and the Orioles could have used Upton as a possible replacement in 2017. 

Meanwhile, the search for pitching continues. Andrew Cashner (San Diego), Jeremy Hellickson (Philadelphia), Rich Hill (Oakland) and Hector Santiago (Los Angeles Angels) are possible targets. 

The Orioles don’t have many top shelf pitching prospects that may entice other teams, and they’re competing against many others. 

There was an indication from Buck Showalter on Monday that the deal wasn’t likely to occur when he said he was contemplating giving Jimenez another start, perhaps Thursday in Minnesota. 

While the Orioles would like to be rid of Jimenez’s onerous deal, it’s unlikely they’ll find a team willing to take on that salary by Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver trades. 

Quick Links

Orioles win it in a walk-off again, downing the Rockies in extra innings

Orioles win it in a walk-off again, downing the Rockies in extra innings

BALTIMORE—For years, the Orioles have watched Adam Jones win games with big hits, superlative catches and wonderful throws. On Monday night, they watched him win it in little ways. 

There was the RBI single on a ball he seemed merely to tap in the second inning. Then, there was the infield out in the seventh that tied the score, and finally, it was Jones scoring the winning run in the ninth when a former teammate couldn’t handle a rush throw on a simple grounder back to the mound.

Jones’ little ball proved to be big as the Orioles extended their winning streak to five games, and moved a season-high 18 games over .500 with a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies in 10 innings before 19,361 at Oriole Park. 

It was the second straight time the Orioles won a game in their last at-bat. 

In the bottom of the 10th, Jones led off with a single off Jordan Lyles (2-3). He raced to third on Jonathan Schoop’s single to right and scored when Manny Machado grounded back to the box.  Lyles bobbled the ball for a moment and Colorado catcher Nick Hundley couldn’t handle Lyles’ throw home, and Jones scored the winning run.

“Adam takes a lot of pride in being an all-around player and he is,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

Jones wasn’t being particular about socring.

“It doesn't matter how you score. As long as you win the game, that's all that matters,” Jones said. 

Jones made his way from first to third on Schoop’s single, and that was big, too.

“That's called pride. Play the game hard, man.  I can run. It's a situation where we need a guy on third base. I'm going to bust my tail to get there.”
 
Chaz Roe (1-0) pitched the 10th for the win. Mychal Givens and Zach Britton retired the seven batters they faced. 

For the second straight game, Yovani Gallardo pitched into the seventh inning. He allowed two runs on five hits as the Orioles starters continue to pitch deep into games. In five of the last six, starters haven’t gotten outs in the seventh inning, something that wasn’t seen very much earlier in the season.

“The thing is, maybe we’re being more aggressive. I know that for myself. That’s what I’ve tried to do, the last two games, and the pitch count shows it. I’m being a little bit more aggressive with my first pitch and getting guys to swing the bat,” Gallardo said. “We all feed off of one another. I think it’s always a big help to have the guy in front of you go deep in the ballgame, and try to do the same thing or even better. It’s always a friendly competition, and that’s going to help and benefit in the long run as a team. You’ve just got to keep moving forward, stay consistent and hopefully we’ll do something.”\

RELATED: COULD JIMENEZ START FOR O'S ON THURSDAY?

Gallardo allowed a home run to Nolan Arenado to lead off the fourth. 

In the second, J.J. Hardy scored on Jones’ single to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. 

With two outs in the seventh, David Dahl, playing his first major league game, singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. 
After a prolonged at-bat, Mark Reynolds singled up the middle to score Dahl. That gave Colorado (47-52) a 2-1 lead. 

The Orioles (58-40) tied it at 2 in the bottom of the seventh. Reimold was hit by a pitch with one out. He moved to third on Dariel Alvarez’s double, his first hit of the season. Jones grounded to short, scoring Reimold. 

Last week, the Orioles were sick with the flu and had an awful time in New York before winning the final game of the four-game series. 

“We lost three straight and it was kind of like an apocalypse was happening here, so we're just grinding it out every day, happy with the results we're getting,” Jones said. 

NOTES: After the game, the Orioles optioned Dariel Alvarez to Norfolk. Hyun Soo Kim will presumably be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. Kim was 2-for-4 with a single and home run in his second rehab game at Bowie. He played six innings in left field. …The Orioles have five winning streaks of at least five games this season. … Jones passed Rafael Palmeiro for seventh place on the team’s RBI list with 703. … Reimold reached after manager Buck Showalter asked for a replay. The Orioles have now been successful on 13 of their 23 replay challenges this season, and their last five straight. … Chad Bettis (8-6, 5.31) faces Chris Tillman (14-2, 3.18) on Tuesday night. … Temperature at game time was 95 degrees, highest for a game this season. … Davis is 0-for-21.

MORE ORIOLES: WIETERS BACK IN ORIOLES LINEUP