Though he’s working on minimal sleep, Orioles manager Buck Showalter looks refreshed today.
He certainly looks drier than I remember him.
Showalter spoke with reporters for about 20 minutes this afternoon, again coming across as loose, confident and respectful of his opponent.
In other words, just another day.
Showalter settled on Jason Hammel as his starter for Game 1 after sorting through what he called “a lot of different variables.”
“We felt like all along we didn’t try to push that and stayed with the process of getting him ready,” Showalter said. “He’s not so far removed that, it’s not a pitch-count thing or anything. Plus, having the facility and the instructional league games, he basically pitched the equivalent of a baseball game on Monday.
“It’s as much mentally, knowing all that shouldn’t be a challenge for him. The challenge will be the Yankees and they’ll let him know how he’s pitching. We’re excited about getting Hamm back.”
Showalter was going to inform Hammel of his Game 1 assignment on the team charter last night, “but about two hours into it, a lot of guys were asleep. He and (Matt) Wieters and (Joe) Saunders were kind of lined up there all asleep. You just don’t want to disturb them.
“I was watching Hammel jumping around on the mound last night, and I was going, ‘Man, he looks pretty good physically.’”
I asked Showalter whether he was ready to announce the rest of his Division Series rotation and how close he was to finalizing his roster.
“Come on, I just gave you the first one. Now you’re moving on to the next one?” he said, smiling. “No, we’ve had a meeting today with the staff and then Dan (Duquette) and I, we’re going to sit down again after the soâ€‘called workout and shore that up. There’s a couple variables, like (Wilson) Betemit swung the bat and felt real good today. First time he took extended batting practice and he’s coming along quickly. We’re looking at a few injuries.
“Right now we’re probably looking at (Wei-Yin) Chen and (Miguel) Gonzalez in (Games) 2 and 3, but that could change, depending on the rainout. If we have a rainout tomorrow, then a lot of things change because we can resubmit a different roster provided we don’t exchange lineup cards. So if we have some rain issues tomorrow, then the roster would change more than likely.”
First baseman Mark Reynolds will be on the roster and in the Game 1 lineup after being drilled in the left hand last night.
“He was hilarious,” Showalter said. “You guys have been here. This guy is a very tough, durable man, but that one had a little different look in his face. I initially thought it might be broken, but when he started kidding around, ... Richie (Bancells) was actually tapping on the top of it to see, pretty colorful, his response. ‘Let me take a hammer and slam your knuckle and then let me tap on it a little bit and see how it feels.’ He didn’t exactly say it like that.
“We were kidding Michael Young, we used to have this thing called ‘crybaby deke’ where a guy gets hit on the foot and you go out there and that’s kind of a signal to steal second base on the first pitch. Dang, if Reynolds didn’t take off.
“I haven’t heard anything yet, but I’d be surprised if he’s not a player tomorrow night. That’s something I’m going to check on. We sit down and gather all the information we get from the workout.”
So what’s it’s like for Showalter to have the Orioles home for a playoff game, the first since 1997?
“Well, it’s a little hard to describe,” he said. “It’s not one of those things I don’t know how it’s going to be. Regardless of the outcome, there’s going to be a real nice feeling to sharing in what the fans are feeling. We landed last night, and the guys got to the bottom of the steps and five or six flight support guys were down there clapping for them. Seeing how excited our bus driver was. We got back here at 5:00 or something in the morning, I’m not sure what it was, and there were six or seven fans that I don’t know if they just stayed up or got up real early were standing by the players’ parking lot gate.
“We’re excited. Everyone is excited with them and for them. Like I said last night, it’s sudden life. It’s always a challenge to kind of keep that under control and funnel it in a good way, but I’m glad a lot of our guys got last night under their belt. I’m not saying they’re any more relaxed, but right now everybody is kind of drying out. Not alcoholâ€‘wise, but I’m surprised that I don’t smell a lot of the stuff that had to get washed. Everybody is working on a short night, including a lot of people here, I’m sure. It’s that time of year.
“I just made a couple strolls by the training room, and that looked good. That was very sparse, which is a good thing this time of year.”
Here’s one more from Hammel, on whether he’s bothered by the Orioles’ continuing underdog status:
“It really means nothing to us. We’ve had a bunch of people telling us we couldn’t do anything. Obviously, we were supposed to finish last. That didn’t happen. We weren’t supposed to get to the playoffs. That didn’t happen. It’s something we don’t really look at. We’re just going out, playing baseball, having fun and pulling for each other, getting contributions from every facet of the game. It’s basically come to be an expectation for us. Somebody is going to get it done. Every night it’s somebody different. It really doesn’t matter.
“The naysayers will say what they want, but we’re very confident in ourselves and that’s all that really matters.”