ARLINGTON, Texas - No shortage of storylines here.
You want the ex-Ranger factor? The Orioles have six of them: Chris Davis, Darren O’Day, Pedro Strop, Tommy Hunter, Taylor Teagarden and Endy Chavez.
Perhaps a fired manager returning to the scene tickles your fancy. Buck Showalter guided the Rangers from 2003-06.
What does it mean to Showalter to be back in Arlington in the postseason, with a chance to knock out his former team?
“We grinded like heck for a chance to roll the dice in October. That’s why you do what you do,” Showalter said, treating the storyline like a limbo bar.
“It’s one thing to have an opportunity. We’re trying everything possible to try to get back to Baltimore.”
But what does it mean to Showalter personally?
“Personally, I thanked the players yesterday for letting me come along for the ride,” he said. “It’s been fun to watch and fun to be around.”
How low can you go?
Showalter won’t be lured into waxing nostalgic about his tenure in Texas or talking about the revenge factor.
The Orioles must get their roster down to 25 players by 10 a.m. on Friday. They need to eliminate six more.
Starters Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen could be removed for the wild card and added for the Division Series if the Orioles advance. Steve Tolleson, Omar Quintanilla and Lew Ford could lose their spots. We’ll know for sure in the morning.
UPDATE: I forgot that Xavier Avery is still on the expanded roster. He’s much more likely to be removed than Ford.
“You try to prepare for as many situations as possible and you look at your lineup, as far as position players and what you would actually do,” Showalter said. “It’s like when someone says it’s not necessarily about pitching, it’s about pitching. Usually, the team that pitches the best wins those games.
“You’ll see us err on the side of pitching.”
Showalter joked that he’s got to be careful about using Chavez as a defensive replacement in right field in case the game goes extra innings and Davis is needed in relief.
“You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got some pieces there for all the things that happen, but also you’re going to try to win a game in nine innings,” Showalter said. “I hope we have the opportunity to make those decisions. That would be fun.”
Showalter was in fine form, even making a reference to the unscheduled landing in Jacksonville that lots of people in the organization would like to forget.
“As far as (playoff) experience, we played a lot of games this year where if the other team scored, the game was over, so that’s the only correlation that I would make,” he said. “Especially on the road, you’re sitting there and you know that if they push that run across, it’s over. But we didn’t go home. We got on a plane and went to another city and hoped that nothing caught on fire.”
Going back to the roster, Showalter didn’t know whether first baseman Mark Reynolds would be included until X-rays on his left foot came back negative.
“Boy, he took it in a real vulnerable spot,” Showalter said. “You guys have seen Mark take all types of things. He’s been hit in the head. I mean, this is a durable, tough man.
“I tried to get him out of the game last night and he gave me that look like, ‘Really?’ He was in a lot of pain last night.”