Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Orioles #951-954, Navarro, Jurrjens, Valencia, & Gausman

Hello there. You remember me? I'm the guy who used to blog almost daily about Orioles autographs. Nowadays, it's like a once a month thing, but hopefully I will get better. I won't promise to get back to my nearly daily posting level, but I can do better than once a month. And man, 2013 is taking my collection backwards so far.

Luckily, I had autographs of two of this group of four new O's, but I'm still slowly slipping away from the 100% of Orioles autographs that I achieved in the offseason. I have a few things in motion to add a couple other of these guys to my collection too, so hopefully I can keep 100% within striking distance.

Yamaico Navarro #951, Debuted May 17 against Rays

Yamaico had been recalled to the team earlier in the year to fill a roster spot for a day but did not appear in a game until he was brought back to the team for a second time in mid-May. At the time of his debut, he took over the everyday 2B duties from Ryan Flaherty, who was sent to AAA to straighten some things out. He was the second baseman for a majority of the team's games between his debut and May 28th. He hit .286 over eight games, which isn't spectacular but was impressive when stacked up to the O's other 2B this season, but his defense was spotty, and he was sent back to AAA to make room for Flaherty's return to the club.

Jair Jurrjens #952, Debuted May 18 against Rays

Jurrjens was one of the Orioles bigger off-season signings, but some lingering injury issues changed his deal from a major league to a minor league contract and he began the season at AAA Norfolk. He had a mid-June opt-out date in his contract, but as I understand it, since he was called up, albeit briefly, that opt-out is no longer in play.

He was called up to start against the Rays on Saturday, May 18th, and he pitched five innings, gave up six hits, four earned runs, and struck out five. He did not get a decision in the game, but I don't think that Buck Showalter liked how Jurrjens let the Rays claw their way back into the game after the O's gave him a four run lead in the first inning. Thus far, that was Jair's only action for the O's, although I fairly well expect to see him again at some point this summer.

Jair kindly signed and personalized my card for me on my Spring Training trip, and from what I saw, it seems like he is a good signer. He has quite an interesting signature, that I would describe as somewhat looking like a dollar sign.

Danny Valencia #953, Debuted May 19 against Rays

Danny marked the Orioles third debut in their three game series against the Rays. Thankfully, they won't sustain that rate, otherwise, I'd be chasing 162 new autographs each year, and I think that would drive me away from this crazy collection.

Valencia has been one of the more pleasant surprises so far this season for the O's, and has hit 3 home runs through just 9 games, appearing solely as a DH or pinch-hitter.

Kevin Gausman, Oriole #954, Debuted May 23 @ Toronto

Gausman made his highly anticipated MLB debut against the Blue Jays, and I don't think it was a coincidence that his first two career starts were both on the road to somewhat lower the excitement level that the hometown fans would have brought to the Yard. He has had some ups and downs over his first three starts, and currently has an 0-2 record with a 7.20 ERA, but his most recent start, and first at home, against the high-octane Tigers offense was his most successful thus far, and he gave up just one earned run over six strong innings. He even earned a few nods of approval during at-bats from the reigning A.L. MVP and Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera. And that's got to say something.

Kevin will likely stay in the starting rotation if he can continue to show improvement, and many people think that he could be the Orioles best starter by the end of the season.

So at least I had autographs of two out of these four new Orioles, but it still leaves two more names to add to my need list. And I would say that out of all the players who were with the O's during Spring Training, Navarro and Valencia were two of maybe four or five (out of 50ish) players whose autographs I did not get at all. And it figures that both of them would make the big league club, and early in the season at that.

Hopefully, it won't be another month until my next post, but time will tell!

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