Each passing day is going to bring more articles about teams checking in on Manny Machado. It feels like the Winter Meetings, but in the summer and without the media gathering in a suite while trolling for news.
The Orioles are waiting for someone to do more than their due diligence. They want multiple pitching prospects despite Machado’s pending free agency. They want a team in contention to take the giant leap in an effort to win the World Series. And they’re going to stay patient, block out the ticking clock.
They also know the risks, including an injury that could destroy Machado’s value and leave the Orioles empty-handed.
In a very short period I’ve watched Machado reach back for a throw at second base, extend his leg to make contact with the bag and slightly buckle, take a wicked elbow shot to the face from Anthony Rendon and swing so hard that his foot slipped and he went down to one knee.
The last two incidents occurred Wednesday night in D.C. and we all shared the same thoughts.
* Colby Rasmus’ return to the lineup probably will be interrupted tonight. The Braves are starting left-hander Sean Newcomb, but right-hander Julio Teheran is on the mound Saturday.
The lack of a true left-handed hitting outfielder can handicap the Orioles, though Jace Peterson made a sensational diving catch Tuesday night in D.C. Rasmus hits from the left side but he hadn’t hit since the ink dried on his contract until homering last night off Max Scherzer.
The Orioles are paying Rasmus $3 million. It isn’t a huge amount of salary to swallow if they want to cut ties. But a nine-game sample would be miniscule.
A prime argument for letting Rasmus walk centers on the club’s preparations to trade some of its bigger chips, get younger and focus on the future. Rasmus isn’t part of it. But, hey, maybe he could re-establish his value, become a chip and teams will check in on him. Or at least do their due diligence.
* Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in D.C. that Chris Davis probably will start tonight after sitting out the last eight games.
He wasn’t kidding when he said the opposing pitcher didn’t matter. A left-hander apparently won’t keep Davis on the bench.
Davis is 7-for-54 (.130) against left-handers this season, with one double, three home runs and 24 strikeouts. Newcomb, the Angels’ first-round pick in 2014, is holding left-handed hitters to a .167 average. Right-handers are hitting .211, which could explain his 2.70 ERA in 14 starts.
Davis remains 17 strikeouts behind Cal Ripken Jr. for the club’s all-time record of 1,305.
* The Orioles kept Jimmy Yacabonis off the shuttle yesterday, declining to recall him from Triple-A Norfolk after Showalter suggested Wednesday night that they would bring up a fresh arm.
The bullpen remained intact and Yacabonis made his start for the Tides, allowing three runs and five hits in only 3 1/3 innings.
In two appearances with the Orioles spread a month apart, Yacabonis has allowed four earned runs and walked five batters in only 2 1/3 innings. Showalter challenged him to improve his command - and remember to back up third base - after the second game of May 12 doubleheader.
The Orioles began the process this year of converting Yacabonis to a starter and he allowed four earned runs in his last six outings over 28 1/3 innings before last night’s dud. He posted a 2.79 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his first 12 starts.
Yacabonis was recalled on April 7 while Rasmus went on the disabled list with a hip injury and the Orioles optioned him the following day. He was recalled again on May 11 while Chris Tillman went on the disabled list with back soreness, but the Orioles optioned him two days later.
Used only as a reliever in the majors, Yacabonis is 2-0 with a 5.48 ERA and 1.739 WHIP in 16 games over 23 innings. He’s allowed 14 runs and 21 hits and walked 19 batters with only nine strikeouts.
* Dalton Hoiles, oldest son of former Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles, has been working out at Camden Yards and the club seems interested in signing him.
Hoiles, an outfielder at Shippensburg University, must wait until the Orioles figure out how many of their draft picks will reach agreements.
One person in the organization said he sees no reason why the Orioles wouldn’t sign Hoiles. But he doesn’t make the final decision.
* The Orioles are visiting Atlanta for the first time since taking two of three games in 2012. They swept a three-game home series in 2015.
I’m partial to the three-game sweep at Turner Field on June 13-15, 1997, its first year of existence, because the Orioles truly were convinced as they departed with a 45-19 record that they were legitimate contenders. That series sealed it for them.
Jimmy Key outpitched Greg Maddux in a 4-3 win on June 13. Armando Benitez gave up two runs while earning the hold.
Chris Hoiles delivered a two-run double off Joe Borowski in the 12th inning to break a 4-4 tie, and Arthur Rhodes struck out six batters in three scoreless innings on June 14. Starters Mike Mussina and John Smoltz - what a sweet matchup - each allowed three runs.
The Orioles completed the sweep with a 5-3, 10-inning win. Lenny Webster hit a two-out, two-run homer off Mark Wohlers in the 10th. Randy Myers was a saves machine. Tom Glavine was saddled with three unearned runs in nine innings.
The June 13, 1999 game is a classic because the Orioles won 22-1 and Ripken went 6-for-6 with a double, two home runs, six RBIs and five runs scored.
The Orioles were 13-for-22 with runners in scoring position. Wrap your head around that one.
Perhaps the most vivid memory for me is watching PR director John Maroon rise from his seat and walk all the way across the press box to update the Braves PR guy on the latest Ripken record set that night. He got in his 10,000 steps.
Also classic were the home runs that Ripken hit in the sixth and eighth innings in his final game at Turner Field before his retirement in 2001. He always had a knack for the dramatic. The beat crew certainly was used to it. But it was fun to watch the Atlanta reporters throw their arms in the air as if to say, “Are you kidding me with this?”