Sounding off: Orioles take on hot topics

Looking through my reporter notes from this week, I noticed I had a bunch of interesting material from inside the Orioles’ clubhouse that never made it to air. I wanted to share some players’ thoughts with you on some of the big topics surrounding the team, straight from the editing room floor.

Topic: J.J. Hardy took a pitch in the ribs Thursday. Luckily, X-Rays were negative. We’ll see if he is able to play with the sore torso as he’s been playing for weeks with a sore shoulder. Hardy has felt better recently after receiving a cortisone injection, but many fans asked me on Twitter if Hardy’s throws to first were being affected by the pain.

Hardy’s response: “Not much. I mean it hurt when I was throwing. It hurt, but it wasn’t affecting my throws. I mean, it wasn’t like I was not going to throw the ball hard because I was hurting. It was just after I threw, it would kind of hurt a little bit. It’s just a matter of staying on my workouts and keeping it strong and it’s been good lately.”

Topic: Despite Chris Davis’ four-RBI game against the Rays Thursday, the Orioles are 17-for-107 (.159) with runners in scoring position over their last 16 games. How does a team collectively pull out of a RBI slump?

Wilson Betemit’s Reponse: “We have to put everything together with men on base. We’re now in a situation where we’re not hitting with men on base. And we have to do that because if you have a guy on base, you need to bring him in because sometimes we don’t have men on base and we have to go up there and have a big swing to get runs. But that’s the game, that’s what’s happening. We have to go in there and do a better job.”

Hardy’s Response: “It seems like every team I’ve been on, at some point in the season this conversation comes up where the team isn’t hitting with runners in scoring position, and every year we seem to come out of it. So hopefully we come out of it sooner than later.”

Topic: So if the Orioles aren’t driving runners in and Nick Markakis is one of the few hot hitters in the lineup (batting .352 with five doubles since coming off DL), has Buck Showalter thought about moving Markakis back down in the order so he can drive in runs?

Showalter’s Response: “Have I thought about it? Oh sure. He really likes the idea he’s going to get 50 extra at-bats (leading off). The computer tells you, which I’m not going to be a prisoner to, that you should take your best hitters and hit them first and just line them up in order. The whole idea is to get them to the plate as many times as possible. The good thing about Nick is he’s capable of hitting anywhere in the order. He brings some attributes you look for in a leadoff hitter. He brings some attributes you look for in a two-hole hitter, a three-hole hitter and, at times, a four-hole hitter. Nicky can hit anywhere and I’ve certainly thought about it, but it fits best right now.”

Bottom line is Showalter doesn’t have anyone else to bat leadoff right now.

Topic: Jim Thome is now an Oriole. Despite his age and declining production, Thome’s track record instills fear in opposing pitchers. They know he can still turn on one. More importantly, he brings veteran experience to what has been a relatively young O’s clubhouse. Have the young stars taken advantage of that experience?

Adam Jones’ response: “Me and him, we just talk about slapping people’s stuff all day. We talk about it all day, like, ‘Man let’s get after these guys.’ I mean, he’s brought intensity to my game and to the lineup because he’s up there hacking. He’s up there with a plan and he’s helped us formulate a plan and just square that ball up and try to drive it all over the field. Don’t just try to be one dimensional.”