ST. PETERBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter made the usual rounds earlier today to check on the health of certain players and the availability of his relievers.
Shortstop Tim Beckham’s hamstring tightened on him again last night, and he isn’t likely to play again this weekend. Center fielder Adam Jones is resigned to sitting out the entire road trip that wraps up the 2017 season.
“I talk to him every day about it,” Showalter said. “We get updated. He’s played what, 147 games this year? I don’t plan to use him here unless I just have to. I don’t want him to have any setbacks with his legs. I want him to start a clean offseason. He’s done everything he can physically do to help this ballclub. He’d like to play.
“There’s a lot of stuff. It’s just not some leg soreness. A lot of it has to do with the turf. I’ve talked many times to Adam over the last year or two that these are things we need to back off of, and we did some this year. But his adrenaline sometimes gets in the way and it’s up to me to be that voice of reason for him.”
Showalter respects the collective mindset on the team that anything short of playing 162 games is a sign of weakness, but it isn’t practical.
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop is appearing in his 159th game tonight to lead the club. Manny Machado has played 155. Mark Trumbo is stuck on 145 with his placement on the bench after the team fell out of the wild card chase.
“We’ve gotten a great return for it, but there’s also a price to pay,” Showalter said. “It’s not necessarily their careers and stuff, but as you get older (it catches up]. With Jonathan and Manny ... It started way back with Cal (Ripken Jr.), but you need to start there and then work your way back to respect what it’s about.”
Showalter has been meeting with players each day, baseball’s equivalent of the traditional exit interviews. The messages vary. The conversations are tougher with veterans such as J.J. Hardy and Chris Tillman, who are pending free agents and integral parts of the franchise’s rise after 14 straight losing seasons.
“I think it’s harder for me sometimes than them,” Showalter said. “They’re young, in their 30s, the world’s out there. Selfishly, I’ve been through a lot with those two guys and it’s emotional for me.
“I’m more about ‘see you later’ than ‘goodbye.’ But this game has a way of everybody crossing paths again.”
Jones wants the Orioles to keep their core intact and go for it again next summer. He doesn’t see the benefit of blowing up the team and starting over again.
“I would not be an advocate to rebuild and all that stuff,” he said. “I’m only getting older. I want to win. I think you throw all your cards out there next year and see what you’ve got.
“Obviously, the All-Star break, the trade deadline and the waiver deadline are all significant dates to know where’s you’re at and where you stand, where you can either buy more or sell off and officially rebuild, but I don’t think you can mention that word ‘rebuild’ to Buck or Dan (Duquette) and them be too happy.”
Update: Brad Miller hit a three-run homer off Miguel Castro in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie. Castro was replaced after 3 1/3 innings and 59 pitches.
Update II: Donnie Hart allowed a run in the seventh on Wilson Ramos’ sacrifice fly after Kevin Kiermaier singled, stole second base and moved up on a balk. The Orioles are down 4-0 and in jeopardy of being shut out for the 12th time this season and second in two nights.
Update III: Pedro Álvarez had a two-run single off Tommy Hunter in the eighth to reduce the lead to 4-2.