Notes on Cruz, Young, Jimenez, Markakis, Machado, Jim Johnson and more

Nelson Cruz is out of the Orioles lineup today for only the second time this season.

Cruz's average is down to .262. He batted .215/.282/.364 in June and .211/.292/.379 in July, and he's 1-for-8 with four strikeouts this month.

"They're not getting him out. He's getting himself out mostly," said manager Buck Showalter.

"It's so tough. You get down 1-2, you just miss a pitch, you hook a ball foul you might normally have kept fair because you're a little quick with your front hip. Then all of a sudden, you battle and you lay off a slider down in the dirt. Now it's 2-2. You lay off another slider in the dirt and it's 3-2. And just can't quite finish off the at-bat.

"It's happened some with Adam (Jones) and all our guys. They're wanting to do what they're capable of doing so bad. You want to start swinging the bat better again. You want to be back up around .300 again. Let's face it, it's impossible to do it unless you get a hit, unless they change the rules and you get a hit for a walk."

young-machado-happy-sidebar-gray.jpgDelmon Young is 4-for-8 with a double and two home runs lifetime against Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma, which explains why he's batting cleanup today.

"As opposed to who?" Showalter asked.

"You're facing really good pitchers again, like we are today, it's kind of like last night with Chris (Davis) and (Charlie) Furbush. They have a memory and so do the hitters. He's had a little success off Iwakuma. It also allows us to do some things off the bench later.

"Really hoping this homestand to give Delmon three or four starts, making sure he keeps in the flow, just like David Lough today. It's so hard to do what Delmon's done and stay, I don't want to say 'locked in,' but he's been pretty consistent for a long period of time and he may end up with 200 at-bats on the year. but he gets so much work beforehand.

"I think our guys do a good job of simulating stuff with the facility we have and the upgrades we've done with the cages and the machines and the extra arms. Guys have a lot better chance to stay locked in over a longer period of time."

Ubaldo Jimenez makes his final rehab start tonight at Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles want him around 100 pitches.

Jimenez will be the 17th different starting pitcher used by Norfolk this season.

Jimenez will join the Orioles Monday in Washington and take the charter to Toronto. No word yet on when he'll be activated from the disabled list and make his next start in the majors.

A six-man rotation? We'll see.

"This is the end of what he agreed to," Showalter said. "I'm not saying it was pulling teeth or anything, but he has that right and he's champing at the bit to get back. You can tell. He wasn't overly enamored with doing it again, but we're trying to get him up to 100 pitches."

Showalter wants to provide extra rest for Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez when the schedule allows it.

Nick Markakis needs two more hits to become only the second outfielder with 1,500 hits as an Oriole. Brady Anderson finished with 1,589.

Manny Machado is batting .372/.390/.603 (29-for-78) in his last 19 games since July 5, raising his average from .239 to .275.

Reliever Jim Johnson can sign with any team today, and the Orioles maintain a high level of interest.

Again, we're talking about a minor league deal.

The Orioles aren't the only club pursuing him, but I'd still regard them as the favorites.

Dylan Bundy's next start is Tuesday with Class A Frederick.

Nick Hundley gets the start behind the plate today after Caleb Joseph caught last night.

"He's done a good job for us," Showalter said. "Our two guys are really engaged. I won't say it took a little while, but we're at the point now where all our guys like throwing to both of them. That's very unusual.

"I had a catcher who would always politic with the pitchers to say, 'Hey, you want to throw to me? I'm better.' Used to drive Gene Michael crazy. So we had a little meeting with him. 'Next time we see a quote from a pitcher that they want to throw to you, we'll send both of you to Columbus so you can throw to each other.' That stopped.

"The other guy hits 30-some home runs a year. You guys can now probably figure out who those two people are, so go ahead."

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