Cornering the market on third base candidates

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles will try to outrun the rain today, racing down to Fort Myers for a 1:05 p.m. game against the Twins.

Bud Norris will take the mound. Hopefully, he won’t find out how much water the mound can take.

Ryan Flaherty will make the trip, perhaps getting another start at third base. Not a bad idea to give him as many innings as possible with Manny Machado headed to the disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter indicated yesterday that newly acquired Steve Lombardozzi is a candidate to play second or third. It makes the most sense to start Flaherty at third and Lombardozzi at second, his primary position.

Of course, the Orioles could choose to start Jonathan Schoop or Jemile Weeks at second and use Lombardozzi in a utility role.

It seems as though yesterday’s trade really impacts Alexi Casilla.

Schoop started at third yesterday before the game was cancelled, but Flaherty certainly will get the call again.

“We still have a lot of guys who can play third in camp, and wherever they feel like they need to use me for whatever, I’m willing to do,” Flaherty said.

“I definitely took more reps over there. I guess just talking to (third base coach) Bobby Dickerson, because they didn’t know how everything was going to shake out. Just to be ready for whatever they need me for.”

Flaherty figured to get most of the starts at second base until Machado underwent knee surgery in October.

“I started this year feeling a lot more comfortable pretty much everywhere I’ve gone, where last year, I was still trying to feel it out,” Flaherty said. “I didn’t play as much over there. But I’m definitely taking a lot of reps over there and at second. Wherever they need me to play, I’ll play.”

The starter at the hot corner will just be keeping it warm for Machado.

“He’s obviously the best in the game over there, but I’m sure he’ll recover quick,” Flaherty said. “He’s young and he’ll be back soon, I’m sure.”

Chris Davis feels the same way.

Asked for his reaction to the news that Machado was going on the DL, Davis sat at his locker and pretended to sob uncontrollably.

It’s really not that big of a deal.

“He’s still young and he’s got a lot of baseball left in him. Obviously, an extremely bright future,” Davis said.

“I know it’s hard when you’re younger and you’ve been sitting here for two months watching us play every day and not really being able to participate, but we’d rather have him for the long haul than try to rush it and then him have a setback. It might be one of those things where he came out opening day and played and nothing ever bothered him again, but you just can’t take that chance, so we’ve got guys who can fill in for the time being and do an ample job. But obviously we want him back at 110 percent.”

Davis has shared his own experiences with Machado to provide a level of comfort to the 21-year-old Platinum Glove winner. He had surgery following the 2007 season to repair a fractured right foot. He understands what Machado is going through in camp.

“I’ve talked to him a little bit here and there,” Davis said. “I know obviously there’s not a lot you can say. Just kind of encourage him.

“I had surgery and kind of had to go through the same thing the first couple weeks of spring training. I didn’t have to sit out as long as he did, but it’s a miserable feeling. You kind of feel helpless and useless at the same time, but we know he’s going to be here when he’s healthy and that’s our biggest thing.

“We need him 100 percent. We don’t need him to try to be a hero right now.”

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