The Orioles didn’t play split-squad games last night. The regulars didn’t head over to Dunedin.
Manager Buck Showalter rested some regulars, went with a makeshift lineup and ended a six-game losing streak.
It won’t be the same lineup tonight. Showalter dismissed that idea. I’d expect Adam Jones in center field and Matt Wieters behind the plate.
Jonathan Schoop brings the most intrigue. Does he stay at second base tonight against Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle, with Brian Roberts serving as the designated hitter? Does Danny Valencia play third base, with Ryan Flaherty going to the bench one night after he hits two home runs?
Does Michael Morse get another start in left field as part of Showalter’s right-handed lineup? What about Steve Pearce?
Ah, so many questions.
Jason Pridie will probably begin the game on the bench against a southpaw, but he’s a popular figure in the organization. Showalter wanted to get him to the majors all summer, but he said Chris Dickerson was just “a tick” better in the outfield, and they both hit from the left side.
Dickerson has a sore hamstring and may not play in the last four games. There’s been some talk of sending him home.
The Orioles want to keep Pridie in the organization and give him a shot at winning a job next spring as an extra outfielder. He made a big impression on Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson, who provided daily updates to Showalter throughout the season.
“He’s a guy we were considering,” Showalter said. “Ronny said he was one of, if not his best, everyday players down there. He just never fit the whole season. He was very close quite a few times.”
“He’s a good player,” Johnson said. “He’s a veteran guy. He went down there and did exactly what you want to see. He started off with a little adversity, too, because when we first broke camp, I had Conor Jackson, Dickerson, L.J. Hoes, so he didn’t start opening night. I tell you what, probably a week into the season, when he had his chance to play every day, he took off.
“He can play all three outfield positions, but he’s a very good center fielder. He can post up. The guy played hard every inning of every game the whole season. I was really happy with that.”
Pridie easily could have grown despondent as the Orioles continually bypassed him while bringing up Dickerson, Hoes, Henry Urrutia, Travis Ishikawa and Dan Johnson, among others. He hadn’t played in the majors since appearing in nine games with the Phillies in 2012. He had to be getting antsy, if not worse.
“Absolutely, because he was hitting like .330 sometimes and there was just never an opportunity,” said Ron Johnson. “And I think every player does get discouraged, but it’s the difference between getting discouraged and taking it out into your performance.
“When you’re in Triple-A, it’s a different beast. That’s a normal thing for people to be discouraged or whatever trying to get back to the big leagues, because that’s the objective of everybody, including me. That’s all right. But the professionals are the guys, the true baseball players, who go out there and when that game starts or their pregame or their preparation never gets influenced. And Jason Pridie’s that guy.
“I talked about it with Buck, too, during the year. We talked about it numerous times, about, ‘Is this a guy you want to keep around?’ Absolutely. This is the kind of Baltimore Oriole player you want.”
Schoop could be the starting second baseman next season, depending on whether they attempt to re-sign Roberts or look elsewhere. Maybe he begins the year at Triple-A and waits for his opportunity. Either way, he remains the organization’s top position prospect and his time is coming.
“He’s been very good at watching and being alert,” Showalter said. “He’s seen every pitch. One thing about Jonathan, he loves baseball. He’s engaged. You look for that a lot in young players. He’s got a great face. I don’t know what kind of player he’s going to be, but he smiles easily, doesn’t take himself too seriously. But he’s also serious about the right things, maybe to a fault sometimes.
“He wants to be a contributor up here at some point in his career. Frankly, I was hoping he wouldn’t play at all. We’ll see what Friday, Saturday and Sunday brings.”
Showalter wasn’t going to use him as long as the Orioles were contending for a playoff berth.
As for the weekend, Showalter is going to start his regulars against the Red Sox, who are battling the Athletics for home field advantage.
“I think Jon’s got a bright future,” Showalter said. “The question is when.”
A smile comes to Showalter’s face each time he’s asked about Chris Tillman reaching 200 innings this season.
“When it was 5 1/3, I walked down to the starters - they all sit together - and said, ‘This guy’s an out away.’ I was afraid I was going to jinx him because it was like a 10-pitch at-bat, I think. And they all knew,” Showalter said.
“It’s a huge milestone for pitchers, especially the first time they do it.”
Executive vice president Dan Duquette participated in a Q&A session yesterday as part of the Orioles’ Social Media Night. Fans wanted to know about next year’s rotation, the plans for left field and whether Roberts could return to the club. One fan tried to gauge Duquette’s interest in Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.
Duquette couldn’t provide much clarity on the subjects, not at this particular time. He did state, as expected, that the Orioles would seek more pitching. And while he really likes Cano, he figures that the Orioles aren’t exactly on the second baseman’s radar.
Does anyone really think Cano will leave New York?
Does anyone else wish they could sit in while Duquette negotiates with Jay-Z?
Josh Stinson registered another scoreless inning last night. He hasn’t allowed a run or hit in seven appearances over eight innings this month. He’s walked one and struck out seven.
He’s on the radar for next season, but as I’ve mentioned, he’s also out of minor league options.
Reliever T.J. McFarland is flying to Chicago this morning to attend to a family matter, but will return in time for the game. Talk about a quick turnaround.
Showalter confirmed that McFarland is a candidate for the rotation next season, along with a lot of other guys.
The Orioles have suggested that McFarland play winter ball in Venezuela.
“I do think he needs to catch up on his innings,” Showalter said.
The Orioles want McFarland back in the U.S. by the first week of December.
“I don’t want him staying any longer than that,” Showalter said. “He needs some downtime. Plus, he needs to make sure he spends the right amount of time getting my Christmas present. I don’t want anything from Venezuela.”