Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the reason he returned shortstop J.J. Hardy to the leadoff spot is “two-fold.” Hardy’s put together good at-bats, which will be needed against red-hot Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, and Felix Pie seems more comfortable batting lower in the order.
First baseman Derrek Lee is eligible to return to the Orioles on Sunday, but he’s still expected to join them in Toronto for the series that begins Tuesday. Lee was extremely close to his grandfather, and he’s been told to take as much time as he needs.
“We’re in full support of that,” Showalter said. “Our sympathy goes out to him and his family. I told him, ‘Be sure that you don’t look back at this. Treat it the way you want to.’ Compared to what we’re doing, it’s more important. And when he gets back, he gets back.”
Luke Scott is also expected to start at first base on Sunday against Rays right-hander Wade Davis. Brandon Snyder could start tomorrow against left-hander David Price, but Showalter left open the possibility that Mark Reynolds could move from third to first. In that scenario, Robert Andino would start at third.
Snyder “gives us some depth and some options that we wouldn’t have had there, obviously,” Showalter said.
Showalter said he isn’t ready to go public with his plans for Vladimir Guerrero once the Orioles start playing interleague games in National League ballparks and lose the designated hitter. They visit Washington next weekend before heading to Pittsburgh.
Asked if he’s prepared to sit Guerrero for six games, Showalter replied, “I wouldn’t go there yet.” However, he also mentioned that Guerrero isn’t pushing to play the outfield, and the Orioles would have “one heck of a pinch-hitter.”
For what it’s worth, Nolan Reimold is upset that the scoring change from Wednesday night’s game has removed his three-base error and left Jim Johnson with an earned run. Reimold never saw the ball, which disappeared in a bank of lights, but he doesn’t want Johnson to be punished for it.
Reimold said it would have been more obvious that he lost the ball if he had been standing flat-footed, crouched and covered his head. Instead, he was running toward left-center field and simply raised a hand to his face for protection after the ball passed him. He also raised his glove, hoping that he might get lucky and make a blind catch.
Of the last 14 home runs hit by the Orioles, 10 have been solo shots.
Jake Arrieta goes for his eighth win tonight. The last Orioles pitcher to record his eighth win by June 10 was Sidney Ponson on June 7, 2003. Kris Benson won his eighth game on June 17, 2006.
Adam Jones is batting .340 with two doubles, two homers, four RBIs and seven runs scored in the eighth inning or later. He’s hitting .362 in the seventh inning or later.
Finally, to the reader who wondered why Jones touches his left shoulder when crossing the plate after a home run, it’s a tribute to his mother and grandmother. He has tattoos honoring both of them.
Matt Joyce has been scratched from the Rays’ lineup. No reason given at this time.
For the Rays:
Johnny Damon DH
Ben Zobrist 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Casey Kotchman 1B
B.J. Upton CF
John Jaso C
Sam Fuld LF
Justin Ruggiano RF
Reid Brignac SS
Jeremy Hellickson RHP
Does anyone else hear “Ruggiano” and think “grated Italian cheese?”