I have to admit, I began to wonder yesterday whether the Orioles were considering a position change for reliever Pedro Strop. He was fielding balls at shortstop while the club videotaped him. And around here, guys change arm slots and pitches and positions as regularly as they change socks.
Strop started out as a shortstop, so it wasn’t that far of a reach.
“He’s not making a change to shortstop,” said manager Buck Showalter, pointing out that Strop was simply taking part in a throwing drill. “He was supposed to do it yesterday. But yesterday, you wouldn’t have been able to see it from the press box.”
Yeah, the press box at Nationals Park doesn’t provide the same view. It’s hard to see a guy taking ground balls at shortstop while your head is in the clouds.
Ryan Flaherty collected two hits and an RBI last night in his first game since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, and he also turned another double play, which he’s done quite skillfully this season.
Flaherty is a popular figure in the clubhouse. His teammates were thrilled that he returned from Norfolk once his 10 days were up, though they understood why he was optioned.
“Our guys knew that it was the right thing with him,” Showalter said, “and they’re glad to get him back.”
Shortstop J.J. Hardy welcomed back another double play partner.
“I was thinking about it this morning,” Showalter said. “We’ve got a Gold Glove shortstop who’s really played with four second basemen already this year. It’s really a testament to J.J. and how good he is. That’s tough.”
Jim Johnson recorded his 16th save last night after blowing four of his five previous chances. He was greeted by a nice ovation from the Camden Yards faithful as he jogged to the mound.
“Jimmy gets it. He knows how hard a job it is mentally,” Showalter said.
“I thought our fans were pretty impressive with the reception they gave him. I think everybody in our clubhouse pulls for each other, but especially, you know how much the Orioles mean to him and being a part of this organization from the get-go. Sometimes you can get where you want something too much instead of just trusting yourself a little bit. He’s spoiled us with a real high level of pitching.”
Chris Davis keeps putting on impressive power displays, but has anyone noticed his speed? The guy can motor. I’m not saying that he’ll lead the league in stolen bases, but he’s deceptively fast.
The two latest examples came in the last two games. Davis scored from first base on Matt Wieters’ double to right field on Tuesday, and he went from first to third on Wieters’ single into right last night.
“Chris can run,” Showalter said. “I try not to broadcast it too much because he can ambush some people here and there stealing a base.”
Kevin Gausman received support and counseling from other members of the pitching staff, including Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez, after Tuesday’s nights outing in Washington.
“I was watching Tillman and Gonzo talk to him after he came out of the game,” Showalter said. “Gonzo wasn’t even here last year. It does your heart good, but it also makes you realize the lack of experience in our rotation right now.”
Left-hander Troy Patton had a 1-2-3 seventh inning Tuesday, but he gave up two runs in the eighth to leave his ERA at 5.16 in 22 2/3 innings. He’s allowed nine runs and 13 hits in 8 2/3 innings in his last six appearances, and his 12 walks this season match last year’s total.
“It’s his command,” Showalter said. “He throws a couple good breaking balls, and then he leaves one over the middle of the plate 0-2. He’s trying to go down and away with his fastball and the ball finishes in the middle to (Adam) LaRoche, and hitters up here are going to make you pay for it.
“It’s about command, and once he figures that out and gets that back in order, he’ll be back to contributing on a consistent basis.”
I talked to a scout from outside the organization about Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia, who’s batting .319/.396/.496 with 12 doubles, three homers and 19 RBIs in 31 games at Double-A Bowie.
“He’s interesting to me,” the scout said. “He’s raw right now. You can tell at times that he hasn’t played in a while, but, man, the ball explodes off his bat. You watch batting practice and he has a nice, easy swing and the ball slams off the scoreboard. He’s crushing balls all over the field. He hits the ball the other way. He’s got a good power-hitting approach. He struggled a little against some better left-handed pitching. He swung and missed a little bit and his timing got out of whack. He’s not ready yet, but he showed at times that he’s got something special in there.
“They put him in right field and he handled it all right. He’s not going to be (Nick) Markakis out there, but he’s not just a big, plodding guy, either. He’s going to be all right. You can tell he’s a good athlete. He runs almost average. He’s not going to be a burner. That’s not part of his game. But he’s going to be average in the outfield.”