Are the Orioles set at the infield corners? - Part II

I thought about having a replacement ref handle my blogging duties this morning, but he kept writing about the Royals.

Manny Machado made a dazzling play at third base during the Red Sox series, diving to snatch a ground ball along the line, jumping to his feet and throwing out the runner with another one of his missiles.

In Game 2 of last night's doubleheader, Machado ranged to his left to glove Yan Gomes' grounder, skidded to a stop and fired a perfect strike to first baseman Mark Reynolds.

Players in the dugout marvel at Machado's arm. They'll joke that if it's hurting, he shouldn't throw the ball - as if he's holding out on them and capable of bringing more heat from the hot corner. As it is, he's in danger of putting a hole in Reynolds' mitt.

Also in Game 2, Reynolds fielded Moises Sierra's slow roller with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh inning, decided against making the easy tag and surrendering a run, and whipped a throw home to get the force on an extremely close play.

That took guts... and a strong and accurate arm.

Mark_Reynolds-sidebar_fielding.jpgThe Orioles have grown accustomed to searching for corner infielders each winter. It's sort of a Baltimore tradition, like steamed crabs and humidity. But the shopping list may not be as long in Dan Duquette's first full offseason as executive vice president.

Duquette got a late start last winter because it took a while for the Orioles to hire him, and he had to devote a lot of his energy and focus toward completing his front office staff and making changes to the scouting department.

The Orioles didn't know whether Machado would factor into their 2013 plans when they surprised the baseball world by purchasing his contract last month. They were prepared to sit down after the season and debate whether to hand him the third base job or assign him to Triple-A Norfolk. There were no promises when he arrived.

Now, there's no reason to bring in anyone else.

"Have you seen him play? How's he look?" Duquette asked. "He looks like a big leaguer, doesn't he?"

Well, yes. And not just in the field.

So the Orioles are set at third base?

"He looks pretty good to me," Duquette said.

The Orioles hold an $11 million option on Reynolds' contract for next season. They could attempt to sign him at a lesser cost and keep him at first base.

"Yes, we have interest," Duquette said. "We'll see how that shakes out."

That's about as far ahead as Duquette is willing to venture with his club, which is trying to overtake the Yankees in the American League East. He'll worry about that shopping list at a later date.

He doesn't have any worries about third base.

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