NEW YORK - Orioles manager Buck Showalter joked today about needing a cup of coffee before he could begin his conference call with reporters.
He also needs a starter for Game 4, which he isn’t ready to disclose.
“Well, it’s kind of like you know the options that we have, and a lot will depend on what happens tomorrow night,” he said. “We’re going to take each game as it comes and try to win that game and stay in that game and those nine innings, or whatever amount of innings it is, and when the smoke clears, we’ll see what our best option is and how it presents itself.
“We know that we’ve got (Chris) Tillman and (Joe) Saunders both available to pitch either day, so I guess the short answer is ‘no.’
Tillman or Saunders. Stay tuned.
The Orioles didn’t get to their hotel until 9 a.m. this morning, having to ditch their train and bus the rest of the way.
“We got about a half-hour out of Baltimore, and the way I understand it, I think the train ahead of us, I think it was the Yankees, clipped something, and I hope they got power restored to the lines because I know they had a lot of people depending on that train today,” Showalter said. “But finally we just got on a bus, and it was about a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride from there to the hotel here in New York. But I just got up. I’m finally getting the first cup of coffee in me, so just bear with me. But no, we got here.
“Reminded me of those days of riding buses. Everybody took it well. We had some young children. I think that was everybody’s concern. It was raining. But kind of gave us some more identification with our fans that sat around and waited for our game to start with that rainy fall weather. But we made it, and everybody will get some rest, and we did cancel the workout as you all were aware of. It was an optional thing. We weren’t going to do much except get there and get organized.
“We made it, and everybody did the best they could do. Our travel secretary did a great job of getting some buses there, as I’m sure the Yankees did, and they bused to the stadium and we bused to the hotel.
“We’re here in a nice hotel and everybody is going to get some sleep, and it’s not an excuse. Guys had fun with it. It’s a club that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, that understands the reality of life and things like that happen. You can have a little fun with it if you let yourself. We got off the buses last night, and Jim Thome had a big smile on his face, and I’m sure it’s not the first time Jim has been through something like this.”
Showalter provided a few injury updates. Wilson Betemit is taking batting practice in Sarasota and could be added to the American League Championship Series roster if the Orioles get past the Yankees, and Nick Markakis had the pins removed from his left thumb yesterday.
“Wilson is doing real well down there and presenting himself as an option if we continue,” Showalter said. “We didn’t feel comfortable pushing the envelope there with that, and I wanted to get some at bats, and fortunately we’ve got an instructional league going on through the 11th and then unfortunately we’re got that group of players we’re keeping active.
“Zach Britton threw three innings today, just a little under 40 pitches, and that went real well. Wilson did not hit off of him, but he took a lot of batting practice, and he’s having no problems right now. So that’s good on that front, and with Zach getting some innings under his belt.
“As far as Nicky, that was real good news, got the pins out. It’s healing correctly, and in fact he’s got a normal ... as normal as it can possibly be after getting those bones shattered. They did a great job. The pins came out, and from the time the pins came out until after the game, I don’t think. ...I looked at it and was real proud. The swelling had gone down. For first time in a long time, it was like he had a normal thumb. And that’s great news, not only potentially down this road this year and for next spring, but he had a pretty tough injury there, and you never know how (it will turn out) ... (but) the doctor did a great job. I know he was as excited as we were to get the pins out. He’ll be in the splint now. But he’s able to kind of start doing some things with moving it around for the first time in a long, long time.”
Asked if Markakis’ timeline remains the same, Showalter quipped, “Are you talking about for him or for the doctors? For him, it was yesterday. But, no, I think there’s still that potential to see if we’re fortunate enough to continue.”
Naturally, Showalter was asked about Game 3 starter Miguel Gonzalez, who finally is gaining attention from the national media.
It only took until October.
“Well, Miguel has got a strong will, and he’s a very grounded young man,” Showalter said. “He’s a great teammate. You can tell there’s a strong like of what he brings, not only on the mound but as a teammate. I think when you go through some of the things that Miguel has gone through to get to this point, ... we’re very fortunate with our scouts. I’m a little dubious about putting everything in one guy’s basket as far as responsibility because there’s so many things that go wrong, but most of all for Miguel as a player and as a pitcher, Miguel has been somebody, if you go through the process how we got to this point, all arrows point towards Miguel, and the standards he’s held himself to, never giving in, and trusted himself, and having confidence in him and in himself.
“Miguel is a talented young man. I think sometimes that gets overlooked. He’s got a great hand. You hear a lot of older scouts talk about pitchers and they say that guy has got a good hand, and Miguel has good maneuverability with the baseball. You know, Rick Adair, our pitching coach, has been very diligent about monitoring all our pitchers’ workload and making sure they’re healthy and we’re not overextending them with extra days, who needs them and who doesn’t, and I think we saw that somewhat with (Wei-Yin) Chen last night.
“Miguel has put himself in a position to contribute, and he’s a great story about perseverance and just a strong will to succeed. He cares about winning. It’s not about himself, it’s about impacting the game on the four days he doesn’t pitch, his teammates. He’s always got a smile on his face, and he’s a guy that’s not going to wither from the competition, that’s not going to have anxiety about things, he trusts himself and he trusts his teammates behind him. He’s been fun to watch. And he’s a guy that has multiple ways to attack hitters, and it’s played well for him and us.
“I think Miguel trusts himself, and he knows who he is. It all starts with location of fastball. When he’s right, we’ve seen him most of the time right that way, he can rotate the fastball and opens up a lot of avenues. If you sit there and try to grade one pitch, he may not get a huge break like some other guys but when you put the total package together, you see why he’s been successful. He’s a great example to pitchers not only with our team but in the organization about pitching instead of throwing. He’s a guy that understands the art of pitching.
“You can’t make a visit to the mound every time there’s a bump in the road on the mound, and he corrects himself, and I think he and Matt (Wieters) know who he is, and they have a feel for what they have to do to be successful. And he stays true to that, and he doesn’t try to become something that he’s not when he’s pitching. He doesn’t get caught up in the emotion, and he stays within himself. He’s a very calm guy that has respect for the opposition but also knows what his strengths are.”