NEW YORK - Orioles manager Buck Showalter needed a lead blocker today to get through the visiting dugout at Yankee Stadium and take a seat on the bench for his pregame session with the media.
This series is getting a lot of attention from national media and New York reporters who normally would hang in the home dugout during batting practice.
Is there more importance attached to these next three games?
"I'm sure there is on paper and on math," Showalter said. "Our guys were very focused on the White Sox and they'll be very focused on Toronto when we leave here. I think they'll enjoy the competition. They always have. We'll look forward to that song finishing up at 7:08, I think it is here. They'll be in their element.
"It's not uncharted territory as far as (how) we've played here. I know it's different. We had the same amount of time on the advance meeting today. It'll get a little longer with some of the 40-man call-ups, but the last thing you want to do this year is be Captain Obvious to guys who get it already. There's a good feel to them, as usual, and I wouldn't expect anything less."
I did have one young player say, "This is a big series." It's no secret. It's just a question of how they handle it.
Randy Wolf will be part of Showalter's bullpen tonight.
"We're excited to have him," Showalter said. "It was a good addition. A veteran guy who has pitched a lot of meaningful games in his career and gives us a good option."
As I mentioned earlier today, Wolf and Brian Matusz have combined for seven major league relief appearances. Does the lack of experience in that role concern Showalter?
"How do you get that experience?" Showalter replied. "Just like we've been giving it to Brian. Everybody in this ballpark at some point was inexperienced, including me, so we think they're good options. Both of them have the ability to pitch (with) some length too, which is always good."
Tommy Hunter remains scheduled to throw one inning or two Saturday at Double-A Bowie before joining the Orioles in Toronto.
As for the call-ups who arrived today, Showalter said, "We think they can all bring something. You love having a third catcher (Luis Exposito). It makes it easier to DH Matt (Wieters) and it makes it easier to run for him. Xavier (Avery) brings a guy who can pinch run, and Tolly (Steve Tolleson) has been a big part of some of our wins this year.
"Talking to R.J. (Ron Johnson) down in Triple-A, they were the guys that he strongly recommended, with some others. We're still not through there. A lot depends on what goes on with Tommy or with Hamm (Jason Hammell).
"The rules completely change tomorrow. We all have some ideas about how that might change. The game we play up here changes dramatically tomorrow. The good news is that everybody we have coming here has already been here. We still have got, I think, one non-roster player we're considering. We'll see how the next day or two goes."
Troy Patton threw on flat ground from 60 feet Thursday for about eight minutes and "felt pretty good," Showalter said, "so that was a good step for him. (Stu) Pomeranz did the same thing. He's a long shot."
The Yankees have changed their rotation this weekend. David Phelps starts Saturday, with Phil Hughes getting the call on Sunday. Freddy Garcia is being pushed back.
NOTE: Shortstop Blake Davis was scratched from Triple-A Norfolk's lineup tonight and replaced by Sammie Starr, who becomes the 75th player used by the Tides this year, setting a new International League record.