LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter spent about 30 minutes today talking to reporters during his scheduled interview session. The topics included Brian Roberts’ possible return, Nick Markakis’ candidacy as the leadoff hitter next season, the decision to tender a contract to Nolan Reimold, the Rule 5 draft and fan unrest over the lack of a big move in free agency or the trade front.
Just not in that order.
Let’s get to it.
Ryan Flaherty seems to be the leading candidate to start at second base among the in-house choices, but Showalter is hoping that the Orioles can re-sign Roberts.
“We also have Jemile and we have the potential of Jonathan Schoop, but first and foremost we have the potential of Brian Roberts,” Showalter said. “We’ll see where it shakes out. But I like our options.”
He mostly likes the idea of Roberts coming back.
“In a perfect world,” Showalter said. “We’ll see if it works for everybody. It’s not always a perfect world. It’s got to fit for him and there’s some decisions that have to be made when people start exchanging salaries. It’s something that, I think Dan (Duquette) has it wired. I’m sure at some point the conversations that need to be had will be had.”
Markakis is a career .329/.375/.441 hitter atop the order, and he could be elevated to that spot after Nate McLouth signed with the Nationals.
“He’s a candidate,” Showalter said. “He’s one of the guys, if I have to fill it internally, he’s a guy that, at the end of the day, we’d look at. In a perfect world, I’d rather not, but I could and I think Nick would do a fine job.”
The Orioles re-signed Nolan Reimold to a one-year, $1.025 million contract at the non-tender deadline, which again demonstrated their loyalty to him.
“Brady (Anderson) has had some conversations with him,” Showalter said. “Basically, what keeps coming out of Brady is that (Reimold) is further along than he was last year at this time. What that means, I don’t think anybody knows until we get into the rigors of the baseball full activity. But we’re going to take another shot with him.
“In today’s world, it’s probably pretty cheap when you look at the going rate of things. If Nolan comes back 100 percent, we’ve got something, a pretty good deal, so I’m pulling for him. It’s been a long, tough road for him. When you look at what he’s gone through and how it happened and the whole nine yards. He got injured diving into the stands trying to help his club win.
“The organization, Mr. Angelos, has been very loyal to Nolan in not just closing the door on him. I’m proud of that.”
Showalter was asked whether he senses the fans’ frustration and what he would say to calm their nerves.
“It’s early,” he said. “I think last year we had this same conversation here, and the year before. I’d remind you of that. We had these same questions being asked last year at this time, and the year before that. You’d have to tell me about the year before.
“There’s a lot of time. I think we get so caught up in this four-day period, or in some teams’ case, the 10-day period, but I’m trying to stay focused on the 37, 38 guys we have on the roster right now. That’s my job. I’m sure we’ll more than likely add one on Thursday. Maybe more than one.”
The Orioles have spent portions of each day preparing for Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. What are the challenges in trying to keep a player on the roster for a third straight year in the American League East?
“It’s a challenge,” Showalter said. “Our coaching staff did a great job with it. As much as you see them in a spring and make a decision to break with them, the first month or so, nobody can say for sure what you saw in Iowa the year before or in Sarasota in spring training is going to play in the American League East, or at least allow you to carry them.
“The toughest thing for me is the unknown with (T.J. McFarland) and Flaherty the first month. It’s a five-run lead and can he come in and get three outs before you’ve got to get a closer up. It’s the unknown with the Rule 5 guy, and more times than not, you find out the existing club didn’t protect him for the right reason. But we’ve been fortunate the last two years.”
Showalter repeated that McFarland will compete for a spot in the starting rotation in spring training.
“I’m really proud of him for going to Venezuela,” Showalter said. “And Ryan’s got a chance to make our club again.”
I’ll file more quotes from Showalter in my next entry. I’ll let you get started on this one.