Manager Buck Showalter confirmed again yesterday that the Orioles will bring up an infielder and likely go with an 11-man pitching staff when third baseman Manny Machado serves his suspension.
Machado didn’t drop his appeal and a hearing could take place next week in New York.
Which infielder will get the call?
Jemile Weeks hasn’t played since May 27 due to a couple of health issues, the most recent being conjunctivitis. He also lacks typical utility skills, mostly playing second base and some outfield. He doesn’t appear to be a candidate.
Steve Lombardozzi was batting .299/.341/.333 with four doubles and nine homers in 32 games before last night. He’s also primarily a second baseman who can move to the outfield in an emergency.
Alexi Casilla isn’t on the 40-man roster, but he’s still highly respected in the organization and is trusted defensively at a variety of positions. He was batting .301/.372/.382 with seven doubles, a home run, 14 RBIs and seven stolen bases in nine attempts over 35 games.
Another non-roster infielder, Ivan DeJesus Jr., is getting high marks at Norfolk. He was batting .306/.389/.426 with 13 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 28 RBIs in 51 games while also impressing at shortstop.
The Orioles are hoping that Machado is gone for only three or four games. Ryan Flaherty figures to be his primary replacement, with Jonathan Schoop playing second base.
Machado accidentally stepped on Jose Reyes’ hand at third base last night while applying a tag, and he quickly apologized. Hopefully, word got back to Josh Donaldson and the rest of the Athletics.
Later, he walked over to the top three Orioles draft picks who were introduced last night and shook hands with third-rounder Brian Gonzalez - giving him sort of a man-hug - before heading to the batters box and lining a double to right field.
Showalter would prefer to stop talking about a six-man rotation. He did, however, provide some insight into why a four-man rotation is really out of the question.
“You think of everything,” he said. “Once again, bringing up six man is one of the many regrets I have in my life.
“Four? When we were in Arizona, one of the things with the expansion team we talked about was going to a four-man rotation. We had a unique opportunity to do that. Let’s just do the math. Finding four is a lot easier than finding five. And unfortunately, you would be completely dependent on developing your own pitchers, because you couldn’t go trade for somebody because they’re all in five-mans, and free agents would not sign if you brought them in.
“We signed Randy Johnson as a free agent. He would not have signed with us if we had a four-man. Curt Schilling would have left. So, there’s some dynamics to it in today’s game. Would I like to have four? Sure. But there are so many factors that play into it, the health of it. It’s just what you’re used to and what you’ve grown up with. And then picking which four it would be. Who do you leave out? Who do you box? I know some people probably have an answer to that question, but I’m not going to answer it.”
(More on Ubaldo Jimenez later.)
“We came close to doing it in Arizona,” Showalter continued, “but you are completely dependent on your players. Because then, you could take them in rookie ball and A ball and advanced A and AA and pattern them for a four-man rotation. You throw a little BP in between. But I’m afraid those days are gone. If 29 clubs are doing it a different way, then your ability to trade and sign free agents and do everything else really makes you dependent on doing it completely through your system.”
I wrote yesterday morning that Kevin Gausman was preparing for a big start, his chance to make a bold statement that he belonged in the rotation beyond Miguel Gonzalez’s date to come off the disabled list.
Now, it’s Jimenez’s turn.
This one’s big, too. Jimenez gave up six runs and walked five Athletics in 2 1/3 innings in his most recent outing, leaving him 2-7 with a 5.01 ERA in 13 starts. It’s not as though he’s guaranteed 30-plus starts this season. He’s got to pitch better and he knows it.
Jimenez is 0-5 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts at Camden Yards this season. He’s 2-2 with a 5.23 ERA in six career starts against the Blue Jays, surrendering five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings on April 13 in Baltimore.
Jose Bautista is only 2-for-22 against Jimenez. Edwin Encarnacion is 5-for-16 with two doubles and a home run.
Nick Markakis needs two more hits to tie Ken Singleton for sixth place on the Orioles’ all-time list with 1,455.
Here’s the top five:
1. Cal Ripken Jr. - 3,184
2. Brooks Robinson - 2,848
3. Eddie Murray - 2,080
4. Brady Anderson - 1,614
5. Boog Powell - 1,574
The Orioles have challenged nine calls this season, the lowest total in the majors, but they rank near the top in success rate by winning five of them.
Showalter said he isn’t sure whether having the lowest total is a good or bad thing.
Showalter has counted three instances where the Orioles felt a call should have been overturned and it wasn’t, leaving them perplexed and frustrated.
“Not that they can’t do the job, but I don’t think it’s fair for the umpires to have to judge this up in New York,” he said. “I think you’ll see some of that changed.”
Showalter went on a humorous rant yesterday while lamenting how he no longer gets to argue with umpires due to the replay system.
“I miss arguing. I do,” he said. “You go out there, ‘Buck, would you like to check that? I mean, what do you think?’ ‘Just a second. Let me look over here a see what John (Russell) is doing.’ I’ve had more arguments with my wife. I can tell you that. I say, ‘Hey, nice going. I think you got that right.’
“I think I caught myself patting a guy on the butt the other day coming off the field. What’s the world coming to? If it ain’t balls and strikes, you’ve got no shot.”