Dave Trembley used to hate lineup questions, but I had to ask Buck Showalter about his decision to bat Julio Lugo sixth tonight.
We’re accustomed to seeing Lugo’s name at the top or bottom, but Showalter is taking two factors into account: The veteran infielder is hitting .320 in 75 at-bats against left-handers, and the White Sox bullpen includes left-hander Matt Thornton.
“Obviously, his track record is hitting left-handed pitching quite well,” Showalter said. “It fits us to try to keep the left-handers from being too bunched together with Thornton sitting down there.”
Showalter also is considering his pinch-hitting options later in the game and how limited they are with a short bench.
“It’s tough to DH another catcher. Say you want to put Lugo in left field and play Izturis, then you pinch-hit for Lugo, you have no infielder.”
Lugo in left field? I’m still trying to get used to him batting sixth.
Josh Bell’s back in the lineup after leaving Wednesday’s game with cramping in his left hamstring.
“The switch-hitters, it’s kind of tough because they’re both such young players, Matt (Wieters) and him, that I don’t think they’ve really developed a track record yet that anybody can hang their hats on,” Showalter said. “Not that it’s always going to make the lineup, but you always like to try to get them out there with their right-handed bats.”
Have you noticed how many times Showalter has used the term “track record” since he’s been here?
Showalter talked to Bell about switch-hitting before last night’s game. I’m sure he’s aware of the splits and how Bell has been much better from the left side during his professional career.
“A lot of people don’t realize what a challenge it is for them,” Showalter said. “They can go such a long period without seeing a left-handed pitcher, then see two or three in a row. It’s still, to me, one of the great abilities in baseball, to switch-hit.”
Does Bell get more leeway in the evaluation process because he’s a young switch-hitter?
“Yeah, but if that’s what they’re trying to bring, they’re going to have to be good at it,” Showalter said. “Like I said before, it’s the major leagues. It’s not a tryout camp necessarily. There are certain expectations for productivity that you’ve got to see. It’s not in the lineup and sink or swim down in Bowie. Up here, it’s got to be some things that we want to make part of what we’re trying to do.”
More than 61,000 households in the Baltimore market tuned into last night’s game on MASN. The telecast was the top-rated primetime show in Baltimore, beating out the lineups of the broadcast stations.
Since Showalter took over on Monday, the Orioles have averaged a 4.5 HH rating, or 49,000 households. The previous average was 3.3, still an increase over 2009.