Orioles manager Buck Showalter hinted at tonight's lineup while meeting with reporters yesterday in the auxiliary clubhouse at Camden Yards.
Nolan Reimold is expected to start in left field against Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price. Steve Pearce is expected to serve as the designated hitter.
Showalter is trying to squeeze some production out of the DH slot, and he's giving Pearce another turn. It's a tall order.
The club's designated hitters are a combined 3-for-47 after Reimold struck out three times and grounded into a force last night in the Orioles' 6-2 loss to the Rays. Pearce is looking for his first hit, having gone 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts in four games.
I asked Showalter yesterday if the club is getting close to addressing the issue, or if it's still considered too early?
"It depends what your definition of addressing it is," Showalter replied.
"I'm aware because I get hit with it every day. But it's not something where I go, 'Look at our two hole, look at our eight hole. How are they hitting?' Or whatever. It's one of those ebb and flows to a season.
"It's been challenging for us statistically, but I have a lot of confidence in the people we have in our organization that we'll get better at it. If not, we'll continue to look for ways to do it. But it's not something I'm staying up at night thinking about."
I noticed how Showalter said he had confidence in the people within "our organization," which includes Triple-A Norfolk.
The lack of production from the DHs doesn't seem to be a big concern for Showalter at the moment. He'd much rather get more innings out of his starting pitchers each night.
"It's about the pitching, it's about the defense, it's about the health of our people," he said. "We had a DH basically last year in Wilson Betemit who led our club in batting average against right-handed pitching, and I think that's forgotten. We're hoping for the health of our guys and we're also looking for the improvement of the people we have."
Russ Canzler, who made a solid impression on Showalter this spring with his skills and attitude, had two more hits last night for Norfolk and is batting .346 with 13 RBIs. Danny Valencia, acquired because of his .316/.359/.472 line against left-handers, is batting cleanup for the Tides and hitting .306.
A lot was written over the winter about a possible Betemit/Valencia platoon at DH, and neither guy is on the 25-man roster. Betemit really fouled up those plans by injuring his right knee in spring training, and his production is missed from the left side of the plate.
I know what you're thinking: What about Jim Thome? Or maybe you were thinking about Vladimir Guerrero or Harold Baines. The Orioles could have traded for Michael Morse, but they didn't want to surrender Jake Arrieta for a guy who could become a free agent after the season.
The Orioles haven't contacted Thome and he hasn't contacted them, from what I gather. In case you were still thinking about him.