With reliever Evan Phillips’ return to the Orioles yesterday, the active roster holds six of the 15 players acquired in non-waiver deadline trades. Phillips is joined by Luis Ortiz, Jonathan Villar, Breyvic Valera, Cody Carroll and Josh Rogers.
What does it tell manager Buck Showalter that six of the players are in Baltimore this weekend?
Anything significant or just the media’s attempt to unearth a story angle in the 147th game of the season?
“I’m excited to see them, why they’re well thought of,” Showalter said. “You’ve got to be careful about getting too positive or too negative, but we were very positive about them when we got them.
“Some of them are going to have to be protected anyway, which is a great reason to have them here and let them get acclimated. We think they’ve got a chance to impact our club and we’ve got to be careful about getting too positive or too negative about it. I’ve learned through the years that you’ve got to really ... there’s a process with them all and that first time in the big leagues part will be behind them as we go forward.”
Ortiz made his first major league start last night and his second appearance and exited with a hamstring injury. Valera played second base again while trying to position himself for a shot at a utility role in 2019. Villar replaced Tim Beckham at shortstop again and the Orioles must decide on his position next season.
Valera is 7-for-22 (.318) in eight games with the Orioles.
The Orioles have chosen to pass on promoting Dean Kremer, who led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts with 178. They’ll have to place pitcher Dillon Tate on the 40-man roster to protect him in the Rule 5 draft
* Showalter currently views reliever Paul Fry as having the potential at first to be a good second left-hander in the bullpen with the ability to develop into a No. 1. But it’s a continuing process and one that hasn’t gone as smoothly in some higher-leverage situations.
“Paul’s not scared,” Showalter said. “He’s got pretty good late-life stuff, he’s got a breaking ball. I talked to him after the game (Thursday) night. There’s only four things he’s got to master and he can do a lot of things for a club.
“He’s got to throw the strike-to-ball breaking ball and he’s got to throw the get-me-over one at will when he’s behind in the count. He’s got to have a feel for both sides of the plate and not get into that up and away.”
Fry faced three batters last night and left with a strikeout and two walks, loading the bases and forcing in a run.
Matt Olson was “in complete swing mode,” as Showalter put it, after plate umpire Angel Hernandez called a strike on a 3-1 pitch that appeared to be outside, bringing some heat from the Athletics’ dugout. Fry missed his target again, not coming close to it, and Olson drew the walk that forced in a run.
“He threw a pitch that was a ball right out of his hand,” Showalter said. “When he gets whatever’s causing it, which we have some thoughts ... Some of it is major league anxiety a little bit. You can see. But this is an athletic, strong (guy). He understands the game other than pitching. You ask him about a hit-and-run play or whatever, he’s a baseball player. That’s why he’s got a chance.”
* The Orioles ran into another out last night, with Chris Davis reaching on a double in the second inning and breaking for third base on Renato Núñez’s comebacker to James Shields. Davis was tagged out in a rundown.
Mistakes are made by veterans and rookies. There isn’t a hint of discrimination.
I counted four outs on the base paths Thursday night, including Valera trying to stretch a single into a double against Athletics center fielder Ramón Laureano. And against warnings that came out of the advance meeting.
Do not challenge Laureano’s arm.
Joey Rickard was doubled off second base on a line drive and thrown out trying to steal. Tim Beckham was caught in a rundown after his two-run single in the first inning.
Showalter made certain that the video was cued up for players to watch yesterday. Thin skins were left at the door.
* Trey Mancini homered twice last night to raise his season total to 23, one short of his career high set last year and one behind Manny Machado for the club lead.
Mancini gets the honor among players who are still here.
Mancini is batting .345 in 23 home games since the break. Cedric Mullins is batting .308 (16-for-52) in 15 games at Camden Yards.