As the Orioles get reacquainted with their home surroundings tonight, they’re also trying to end a six-game losing streak and regain their footing after absorbing a hard fall on the road.
Asked earlier today what message he would send to his team and the fans, manager Buck Showalter replied that there was nothing to “sum up.” It couldn’t be done as a quick hit.
“What does that mean? To sit here with two sentences? I think there’s a lot more to it than that,” he said.
“It’s frustrating, very frustrating. I feel for everybody. But there’s one way to make it go away and that’s what everybody’s focus is. It’s not pleasant to go through and you hate to see people you care a lot about, whether it be the fans or the players or anybody, go through it. So, in the whole scheme of things, you try to keep everything in perspective and continue to go down the path and treat people like you’d like to be treated and those things usually work themselves out. But it will test you, it will test you.
“That’s what I keep telling players about staying together and there’s some good times coming.”
Defensive improvement must come after it was marked as a priority in the offseason.
“Some phases it is, some it’s not,” Showalter said.
Third baseman Tim Beckham has gained unwanted attention for his recent struggles, including another error yesterday and a bobble that eliminated the chance at a double play. He also couldn’t barehand a ball that he charged, which was scored as a hit.”
The left side of the infield is under close scrutiny with Manny Machado’s return to shortstop and Beckham’s insertion at third base, where he made five career starts before opening day.
“There’s some good, some not as good as can be and has been,” Showalter said. “Depends on what metric you look at. I look at kind of the eyeball metric right now and there’s some things that we need ... It happens after a game where we were particularly not very sharp. We gave them six or seven outs yesterday and that’s frustrating, but Manny’s doing things at shortstop that other people, plays that they can’t make, and Tim’s made some good plays. But they keep working at it.
“Our options are what they are and we have a lot of confidence that these guys will be able to do it. The tough part of it is solving it without Jonathan (Schoop). I think people kind of forget that. He’s making good progress little by little. It’s so hard to handicap these things, but it would be nice to get him back.”
Showalter followed Zach Britton’s update on today’s half-mound session with one of his own, saying the closer was “a little tentative” with his first few pitches before getting into a rhythm.
“As soon as he got going, it was like a bicycle,” Showalter said after conferring with pitching coach Roger McDowell.
If Britton makes it through today’s session and Saturday’s fielding practice, “the clock gets moving,” Showalter said.
It should lead to Britton’s return to the active roster in early June.
“We’ve got it mapped out,” Showalter said. “If he follows the program ... Once he got to this step, then we could map out the calendar and we’ve got it worked out to, if everything went well, what day he would be pitching for us with like a three-day window in the big leagues.”
Britton is eligible come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28 and Showalter said it could happen “shortly thereafter.”
“Which would be remarkable with the trainer and Zach and the surgery, if we could get that to happen,” Showalter said. “These things very seldom follow a pure blueprint. So far so good.”
Mark Trumbo could restart his injury rehab assignment on Monday as his strained quadriceps heals. He won’t leave the club over the weekend, but Showalter said “it’s imminent.”
“I think the thing that concerned him was that burst, when he had to go for it and score from second on a single and beat out a slow-developing force play at second. He wants to be able to let it go,” Showalter said.
“We’ve looked at a lot of different players and just about every one of these with this injury, they came back too fast and it bothered them a long time. We’re trying to eliminate that.”
The Orioles made a roster move earlier today by recalling reliever Tanner Scott from Triple-A Norfolk and optioning infielder Engelb Vielma to the Tides. Playing matchups again with the opponent, the Orioles wanted a second left-hander in the bullpen while the Indians are in town.
“Looking at their roster a week or so ago, we always try to go two or three teams ahead to try to put our best foot forward,” Showalter said. “Also, Tanner wouldn’t have left the first time. Just, we had some issues in the bullpen. But his date was up yesterday.
“We have a need for what he can potentially bring, especially as much as we had to pitch Mike (Wright) yesterday and for that matter (Pedro) Araujo. We’ve got one long reliever. Very good club over there and we have right-handed starters. Trying to keep everybody healthy down there.”
Update: Dylan Bundy threw 26 pitches in the first inning and fell behind 1-0 after hitting Edwin Encarnacion on the elbow protector with the bases loaded.
The Orioles have been outscored 24-5 in the first inning.
Bundy struck out two batters in the inning, both with his slider, but he also allowed two hits and issued a walk. Catcher Chance Sisco failed to catch a pop up in front of the home dugout and Jason Kipnis singled with one out to start the rally.
Update II: Machado collected the Orioles’ first hit of the night with a solo home run with one out in the fourth inning to tie the game 1-1.
Update III: Trey Mancini’s two-run double in the fifth inning gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead.