TAMPA - The more observant readers will notice that the dateline has changed on this blog entry. I spent the night at the Tampa Airport Marriott again, turning in my rental car around 9:30 p.m. and racing to the TGI Friday’s for a quick bite to eat, a beverage and another scan of the blog comments.
It’s nice to roll out of bed, splash cold water on your face and stagger to your gate for the flight home. Just make time to do something with your hair. That’s my only rule.
Brushing your teeth is optional.
Manny Machado will undergo an MRI on his left knee this morning and the news is expected to be bad. The only question is how bad.
He won’t play in the remaining six games. The hope is that he’s ready for spring training and his 2014 season isn’t compromised.
Manager Buck Showalter was clearly agitated by the Rays’ team doctor, who apparently offered a diagnosis to the Orioles’ athletic trainers. Showalter made reference to it at least three times in his postgame comments.
Reading between the lines, it’s apparent that the diagnosis wasn’t favorable, to put it mildly. And Showalter, forever protective of his players, didn’t want to hear it. Especially before the MRI.
I’ll be eager to find out who starts at third base tonight against Blue Jays right-hander Todd Redmond. Could it be Danny Valencia, a natural third baseman? Or Ryan Flaherty, who moved over there yesterday before returning to second base after Alexi Casilla left the game with an apparent concussion?
Yes, we need to keep Casilla in our thoughts, too. Showalter subtly brought up how it was unfair for seemingly all of the focus and concern to fall upon Machado. Head injuries aren’t to be taken lightly, even if the player doesn’t factor into the team’s future plans. Even if he isn’t a 21-year-old stud athlete.
Casilla is well-respected and he’s been on the roster all season. His injury shouldn’t be minimized. And boy, if you saw the replay, it was frightening.
No sense getting ahead of ourselves and speculating how the Orioles will address third base if Machado’s 2014 availability is in question.
In a purely weird coincidence, Jonathan Schoop was taking ground balls at third base yesterday during batting practice. And he looked like he had plenty of arm. Maybe not Machado’s arm, but honestly, who does?
During his pregame session with the media yesterday, Showalter talked about how his team continues to play hard. He notices the little things that might get lost in the latest loss.
Anyone suggesting that the players have rolled over and quit on Showalter aren’t in tune with what’s going on here. But I won’t vent. I’ll just pass along this quote and move on to another topic.
“This is what allows you to get to sleep - Chris Davis being on third base on a ball that fell in left field the other day,” Showalter said. “Go down and count how many guys with the type of year he’s having and a first baseman would have been on third base on that ball. How about the ball yesterday that hit (the catwalk), from (Matt) Wieters, and he was on second base. You guys can rattle off quite a few people who wouldn’t have been where those guys finished up. That’s why I get frustrated for them, because a lot of guys just don’t do that. What’s the exception should be the norm.”
By the way, the Wieters ball off the catwalk would have been an out if caught. Funky Tropicana Field ground rules.
Showalter also was asked about the raised expectations following last year’s playoff berth.
“What, would you rather it not to be?” Showalter said. “Our guys, it’s more than just them expecting good. I don’t think anybody felt last year was good enough, as evidenced by the competitiveness again that came in. and will be again. These guys, you are not always going to be laying in the weeds, Cinderella, all that stuff. You’ve got to graduate.
“It seems like everyone, after Toronto’s offseason, everyone was the hunted. In the American League East, everyone is competitive, everyone wants to be a part of it. There’s a lot of commitments made to it, a lot of lip service, but what are you really going to do with those opportunities? You’ve got to grind through things.
“It’s expectations. Yeah, players knew about it, they liked it. It wasn’t, ‘Oh geez, what are the Orioles going to try to fool us with?’ Trying to paint a picture of something that’s not very paintable. Every team has somebody developing, with a couple exceptions. We’ve got guys we hope take the next leap in their careers. So do they. But I think we’ve got a lot of teams in our division who know who they are and know who they are not. I think that bodes for good baseball in the future.
“I don’t think they were asleep. I just think ... I’ll let you all weigh in on that. I’m just trying to win a baseball game, put something out there that people can sell themselves to emotionally. Our guys care, not that teams in the past here didn’t care. Dan (Duquette) cares, Peter (Angelos) cares. We’re in a good place. It’s going to take a lot more than one year, two years, three years. I have the most respect for people that do it consistently, year-in and year-out. Any sport, when you see a team or an organization, a college or pro team, it doesn’t matter. There are reasons why. The more I’m around professional sports, you kind of see something from afar and everyone always thinks it’s a fluky Cinderella-ish thing, and then you get close to it and you go, ‘There’s a reason why. I’ve got it now.’
“Tampa, I enjoy the fact that they’ve eliminated all the excuse-making. Play better. One of the biggest things is you’ve got to know who you are. I’ve asked that question. Who are we? How are we going to do this? Don’t confuse our fans. Don’t go talking about something that’s completely ... I think what people miss, they lose sight of the consistent ‘yes’ we get from our ownership. I can’t tell you, on one hand ... and most of the time he’s right. Just about all the time. So we’re very careful about what we take there.
“I’m getting really deep here. I’m trying to make it to the playoffs without saying something stupid.”