CINCINNATI - Orioles manager Buck Showalter is expected to change leadoff hitters tonight with the Reds sending right-hander Scott Feldman to the mound. But Seth Smith’s hamstring again could put anyone in play.
Not having a designated hitter is a huge complication. Showalter probably wants to keep Mark Trumbo in right field, leaving the usual suspects to tussle for left.
Showalter considered catcher Welington Castillo as leadoff hitter yesterday against left-hander Amir Garrett. He might be more inclined to consider Jonathan Schoop against Feldman because of the reverse splits.
Going into last night’s game, Schoop was batting .267 against left-handers and .296 versus right-handers. He hit .243 against left-handers in 2016, compared to .274 versus right-handers, and .232 against left-handers in 2015, compared to .301 versus right-handers.
Showalter mentioned those splits yesterday while discussing his choice of Mancini as leadoff batter. Schoop had an RBI single off Garrett.
Smith remains day-to-day. The Orioles would have considered selecting outfielder Logan Schafer’s contract if Smith had gone on the disabled list, due to his defensive skills. And Schafer bats from the left side.
Mychal Givens got the night off after his scoreless inning in the series opener. His fastball touched the upper 90s, a clear sign that his back no longer bothered him.
Showalter hadn’t used Givens since April 12 in Boston.
“Mychal felt good, his back, after (Tuesday) night,” Showalter said.
Givens was included among the group of Orioles relievers who took batting practice in preparation for interleague play. The activity may have triggered the discomfort, which led Givens into the training room for treatments.
“Especially with Mychal’s background as a hitter, in case you get in a bind,” Showalter said. We had (Vidal) Nuño and Tyler (Wilson) hitting because they’re long relievers. I’m not so sure Mychal’s back wasn’t a result of taking batting practice, which is another sidebar of getting pitchers ready to play in this interleague stuff. Sometimes, I feel like we should just tell them to take and bunt and that’s it.
“Every year, somebody gets hurt doing something they’re not used to doing, but I think he’s over that now.”
Left-hander Wade Miley, who closes out the series tonight, has allowed three runs and struck out 13 batters over 11 innings in his first two starts. He’s also walked seven batters, but they were condensed into one outing.
“I think he’s carried over kind of what went on last year,” Showalter said. “I know he gives Scotty McGregor a lot of (credit). Kind of know who he is and attack the zone. Wade’s not a guy who’s going to ... he’ll think about the right things and not overthink it. He kind of knows who he is. A lot of guys do at that stage.
“It’s a big year for him in a lot of ways and it’s a little reminder of what he’s capable of. Not a whole lot bothers him on the surface. He’s going to go out there and say, ‘Here it is.’ He’s not going to give the opposition too much credit, and ‘If you get me, I’ll see you in five days.’ He doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying, and I think he’s got a good grip on it.”
Miley is 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.444 WHIP in six career starts against the Reds over 36 innings. He’s 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA in three starts at Great American Ball Park, with seven runs and 23 hits allowed in 18 1/3 innings.
Joey Votto is 3-for-6 with a double and Zach Cozart is 4-for-17 with a double and home run.
Being in a National League setting allows Miley to tackle that .149 career average in 208 at-bats. He has five doubles, a home run, 12 RBIs, eight walks and 54 strikeouts.
Miley went 2-for-11 last season, including 1-for-4 with the Orioles, the hit being a single off the Nationals’ Tanner Roark on Aug. 24 in D.C. His only home run came against the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong on April 22, 2013, in San Francisco.
Feldman has posted a 2.87 ERA and 1.468 WHIP in three starts over 15 2/3 innings, walking eight batters and striking out 15.
Feldman is 5-2 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.446 WHIP in 17 career games (nine starts) against the Orioles over 64 1/3 innings. He’s held Adam Jones to two hits in 23 at-bats, but Manny Machado is 5-for-11 with a double, a triple and two home runs.
Schoop is 3-for-6 against Feldman and Miley is 1-for-2.