ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Nate McLouth didn’t know that he was batting first tonight until told by a reporter before the pregame stretch. He hadn’t checked the lineup card hanging in the hallway that leads into the clubhouse.
Nick Markakis led off on opening day against Tampa Bay left-hander David Price. McLouth is leading off against Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
“There’s multiple guys capable of doing that, of leading off,” McLouth said. “He’s good at it, but he’s also a good run producer. He’s good in either position. And I’m happy to hit wherever, too.”
McLouth hit leadoff in 24 games last season, batting .263/.342/.455. The Orioles had lost Markakis, Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold to injuries. Somebody had to do it.
“Maybe it’s for a day, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s for a while. But I’m comfortable leading off, I’m comfortable hitting second, eighth, wherever,” McLouth said.
There are no guarantees that McLouth will lead off an inning tonight beyond the top of the first. It just depends on when his turn comes up.
“Yeah, though I think Nick led off three times yesterday, but you could be leading off or you could find yourself coming up in the fifth inning with the bases loaded,” he said. “I really think sometimes there’s a bigger deal made out of it than it really is.”
Is McLouth more aggressive on the bases as a leadoff hitter?
“I think there’s more opportunity to run, mostly in the National League,” he said. “But if you’re leading off, especially if you get on that first at-bat of the game, that’s usually a pretty good time to run out there. But I try to be aggressive on the bases as much as I can.”
Is McLouth more aggressive at the plate as a leadoff hitter?
“I don’t think so, just because, I treat each at-bat depending what situation presents itself throughout the course of the game,” he said. “I try to treat each at-bat individually, regardless of where I’m hitting in the lineup.”
Manager Buck Showalter isn’t making any long-term commitments to one hitter being the leadoff guy.
“We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” he said. “I don’t know about change. They have different pitchers out there tonight. This is our best front tonight and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”