ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Though the Orioles rotation appears to be set with the inclusion of Miguel Gonzalez on Saturday, it’s possible that manager Buck Showalter will have to make another adjustment this weekend.
Bud Norris has been available in the bullpen, but he could make a start against the Rays. It’s up in the air.
One of the pitchers is dealing with a serious illness in his family, and Showalter referred again today to a “constantly developing situation that we have to cover ourselves for with other starters this series in case somebody has to leave.”
Later, when discussing his choice of Gonzalez over Norris as Saturday’s starter, Showalter said, “If he has a problem and has to come out, we can cover it. If Bud does and then Miggy’s not useable, then we’ve got an issue. The other part of that is what the rest of this series ... possibly some adjustments we might have to make in our rotation, so I want to be sure we’re covered there.”
Pitching coach Rick Adair’s father has passed away. The funeral is Monday near Birmingham, Ala.
Adair took a personal leave of absence from the team on Aug. 15. Bullpen coach Bill Castro has been serving as pitching coach in Adair’s absence.
Adair isn’t expected to return this month.
Just trying to mix it up a little bit?
“I guess so,” Showalter said. “I think this time of the year, they’re so good pitching-wise, you’re just trying to present the best challenge you can.
“We face such good pitching. I think that’s what a lot of people miss about the American League East. Not that we have a corner on good pitching, but especially this time of the year, you see a quality starter every night, and in this case a quality bullpen. With the 40-man bullpens, you’re always kind of picking your poison.
“We’ve got the same people playing. It’s just that, I think we get so involved in the order. I know it’s not a big deal for our guys. If you look at some of the matchups, I think you’ll understand it. It also presents some good options for us as the game goes forward.”
Showalter doesn’t expect Machado and Jones to change their approach at the plate.
“We’re at the stage of the season where there are no secrets,” he said. “You play Tampa, Toronto, New York, Boston so many times, there are no secrets.
“You don’t always want to be predictable. You can get a little stale with that sometimes. Every once in a while, you need a little blank in the giddy-up.”
Fill in the blank.
“Just like always, I want them to be themselves,” Showalter said. “I like the things that Brian (Roberts) does for us at the bottom. You’re assured of hitting (first and second) basically in the first inning. I think it’s more about the order in which hit as opposed to who’s hitting in what conventional slot. There’s no conventionality to that, really, in baseball.”
The Orioles aren’t shy about experimenting with players, and that includes Machado, who was transformed from a minor league shortstop to a major league third baseman. Batting him second also was new territory.
“There’s a good chance he won’t be there (leadoff) tomorrow,” Showalter said.
What if Machado goes 4-for-4 tonight?
“Well, we’ll talk about it then,” Showalter said.
“You’ve got 10 games left. You go, ‘All right, here’s tonight.’ We’ll see where it is tomorrow. And if (David) Price is on top of his game, it doesn’t matter. Just trying to take advantage of the skills of our players. And we know to win a game tonight, we’ve got to score runs. It’s just a matter of how many.”
ESPN counted up it’s Web Gems, and Machado leads the majors with 18.
“They probably missed a few is how I look at it,” Showalter said.
“I know a lot of people just take it for granted. They just kind of go, ‘OK, Manny,’ but I don’t. Where it really hits you is when he might make a mistake.
“He’s having as good a year at third base as I’ve ever seen a player have. I know how the Gold Glove stuff goes, but if he doesn’t get it, then we’ll give him one.”