BOSTON - I don’t know the projected game time temperature tonight at Fenway Park. However, after doing extensive research, I can confirm that it’s bitter cold.
There’s a rumor circulating that a polar bear will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. While wearing a scarf and mittens.
The temperature for Wednesday’s game against Tampa Bay at Camden Yards was 39 degrees, believed to be the coldest in Baltimore since at least 1988, when first pitch temperature was recorded regularly. The previous coldest temperature game in Baltimore occurred on April 15, 1988, when the Orioles and Indians played in 40 degree weather.
Chris Davis has reached base safely in 13 straight games and has two stolen bases, which is two shy of his career high set in 2013. He’s drawn seven walks, a pace that would set a career-high with 81.
The Orioles lead the majors with six outfield assists.
Manager Buck Showalter talked to Manny Machado today after the third baseman performed sliding drills in preparation for his debut on Saturday in an extended spring training game.
“He’s upbeat, ready to go,” Showalter said. “He’s doing it right. He’s obviously wanting to get there as soon as he can. It’s one of the things I told him today. If it takes five or six days down there before he’s ready to play games, start that clock ticking, that’s fine. That’s why it’s important that he and we make that step to where that might be, a minor league affiliate. I think he’s got between 17 and 20 plate appearances already.”
It may not take the full 20 games on an injury rehab assignment for Machado to be ready to come off the disabled list.
“That’s hopeful,” Showalter said. “I’m just going to let it run its course. I’m not going to put any this day, that day exactly, and then there’s some unknown there. Just let him get through a few days at extended spring and let’s see where we are.”
Showalter said the level of the affiliate will be important “to an extent.”
“He’s not going to stay in Delmarva the whole time, I’ll tell you that,” Showalter said. “I don’t want to get into saying what level he’s going to be at. I know what Manny’s rehab there means to some of the affiliates. We’re going to do what’s best for him and the organization when the time comes. We just hope it comes after a few days in extended spring.”
Could Machado begin his rehab assignment on Tuesday while the Orioles start a three-game series in Toronto?
“It will be close,” Showalter replied. “Like I told him today, that might be a little push. He’s going to take what he needs. I’m not going to say, a minimum of this, a maximum of that. See how he feels.”
Today was the first day that Machado has slid into bases since undergoing knee surgery in October. The Orioles want him to reach the point where he’s not thinking about it, “where he’s just doing it naturally,” Showalter said.
“Is this going to hurt? Is that going to hurt? Is that going to be a problem? When he gets to the point where he just thinks about, ‘Where am I playing the hitter? Who’s covering second base?’ And just getting a sign where it’s the natural flow of the game, so he’ll know where that comfort level is.
“I think he’s been pretty frank with us, honest. I like when he seems to slow something down a little bit. It shows you some maturity. He’s going to be real honest about this. He knows how important this is to his career. That’s why having Brady (Anderson) there, they’ve got a real close relationship. As does Brian Graham. I don’t think Dave (Anderson) is quite there. He doesn’t know him well enough.
“Brian’s been with him through thick and thin, and so has Brady. They’ll be able to read him pretty well. They’ll know if it’s right or not right. They’ll be a little too honest sometimes.”
Executive vice president Dan Duquette estimated in spring training that Machado would need 50 at-bats before the Orioles activated him. Does that still hold true?
“It’ll be over 20 tomorrow,” Showalter said. “Thirty is six games. Whatever Dan said, I’m not going to disagree with it. We’ll see what each day brings, see what everybody thinks. It would be different if you had been sitting around for the offseason and you’re just walking into this, but he’s been in a baseball environment and been around everything for, what, it will (be) almost three months. He’s been doing just about every baseball activity, so it’s just the speed of the game a little bit. That’s why I do think it’s important that he get to a place where the game’s really sped up a little bit.
“Fifty plate appearances? That’s a good number, but it could be less and it could be more. That politically correct enough? Go ask Dan if he wants to retract that. He might. From talking to him, I think he does.”
Left-hander Troy Patton hasn’t garnered nearly as much attention as Machado while throwing in Sarasota, but he’s ready to start pitching in games and can come off the restricted list on April 30.
The Orioles will be challenged to find a spot for him.
“We’ve talked about it, but until we get there, a lot of things can change between now and the 30th,” Showalter said. “We gained another day because of the rainout. Or lost another day, depending how you look at it. If we had to make the decision today, it would be very tricky. We’ll see what happens between now and then.
“The worst thing would be he’s pitching wherever and not doing well and here comes... He’s healthy. He’s fine down there. I’m anxious to see him get in front of some competition where guys are trying to beat up on him.”
Evan Meek is dishing out the punishment over his first six games. He hasn’t allowed a run in seven innings.
Meek was an All-Star in 2010 with the Pirates before suffering a SLAP tear in his right shoulder.
“I don’t want to lose sight of what he’s coming off,” Showalter said. “I wanted to give him three days off after his last outing, which we did. But it’s nice to have guys who can defend themselves against left- and right-handed hitters and that’s what Evan over his career has shown he can do.
“Evan gives you a different look down there that a lot of right-handers don’t bring, especially down there in that bullpen. Just glad he’s healthy.”
Showalter has been choosing between Meek and Darren O’Day in certain situations, which can be dictated by matchups.
“Up to a point,” he said. “You reach a point where regardless of who’s hitting, they need to pitch.
“I try to get everyone off the schneid early, get everyone’s feet wet. The perfect situation doesn’t always present itself. What do you do, wait two weeks? You can’t. If they’re going to bite when they’re a puppy, they’re going to bite when they’re a big dog. So you see what happens.
“Evan, one thing he ain’t, he ain’t scared. When you go through some of the things he’s gone through in his life, he’s not going to go out there and be timid. That’s one of the things you like about him and all of our guys down there.”