Morse needs to heat up to get more at-bats

So, does anyone have an extra ticket to the Buck Showalter-Joe Girardi steel cage match?

Girardi was born on Oct. 14, 1964. He used to be a Libra, but Bobby Dickerson stole his sign.

It figures that Showalter and Girardi would exchange words during the first game of a four-game series. There's lots of time left for more bad blood to boil.

I wonder whether Showalter will bring out the lineup card before tonight's game instead of bench coach John Russell. He may want to make a statement by doing it himself again and not give the appearance that he's avoiding Girardi.

The Yankees are starting right-hander Ivan Nova tonight, but they'll close the series with lefties Andy Pettitte and Dave Huff.

By my count, that's six southpaw starters against the Orioles in eight games on this homestand. The White Sox broke out three of them, too.

That's good news for Michael Morse, who seems to have slipped into a platoon role with the Orioles.

During the eighth inning of Sunday afternoon's game against the White Sox, Showalter sent Morse to the plate as a pinch-hitter for Nate McLouth. Chicago manager Robin Ventura countered by bringing in right-hander Nate Jones, forcing Showalter into another move.

Rather than let Morse bat, Showalter summoned him back to the dugout and called upon Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia, who swung at the first pitch and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Morse started last night against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout before Chris Dickerson replaced him in left field in the seventh inning.

Is Morse on the Danny Valencia plan, where his only starts come against lefties?

"Maybe on the surface," Showalter said. "I'm not going to get backed into anything."

Morse is 3-for-17 with the Orioles, and his slow start has prompted Showalter to limit his plate appearances.

"If Mike gets it going, we know he's more than just a platoon player," Showalter said. "We're going to see a lot of left-handed pitchers, so he's going to get consistent at-bats. He gives us some real good options off the bench if it's a close game.

"Brian (Roberts) is probably not going to get any more off-days between now and the end of the season, conceivably. We'll see how that works out. There are a lot of variables. I had three or four different lineups here (yesterday) while I considered where everybody was physically after their training room work and everything."

Morse collected only three hits in his last 34 at-bats with the Mariners. Combined with his 3-for-17 start with the Orioles, he's now mired in a 6-for-51 slump.

"Michael, we think he's got some good things ahead of him," Showalter said. "He's better than he's shown. I think he wants to contribute so badly with every pitch. I think if he squares up one ball, you're going to see him take off and do some good things for us."

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