Seeing All-Stars (and more)

It’s another off-day in June for the Orioles. We’re up to five, in case you’re scoring at home.

And if you’re scoring at home, you’re probably not reading this blog.

I didn’t realize until checking yesterday’s postgame notes that J.J. Hardy has homered in eight consecutive series. He’s reached base safely in 29 of 32 games since May 21.

Derrek Lee is batting .375 with four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in his last nine games.

Mark Reynolds is batting .450 with two doubles, two homers and three RBIs in his last seven games. He’s also walked 16 times in his last 17 games.

Yes, he also leads the majors with 18 errors.

If you were watching yesterday’s game on MASN2 and you can read lips, you know that reliever Jim Johnson wasn’t happy with plate umpire Alan Porter’s strike zone. And I can’t blame him. Porter should be ashamed.

I’ll never suggest that umpires have an easy job, but if you can’t recognize a strike, you shouldn’t be behind a plate unless you’re holding a knife and fork.

We’ll find out tomorrow whether the Orioles are ready to activate reliever Alfredo Simon from the disabled list. Simon threw two scoreless innings yesterday at Double-A Bowie, allowing one hit, walking one and striking out three.

We’re due for another roster move. I tend to break out in a rash if it doesn’t happen every couple of days.

On yesterday’s “O’s Xtra” segment, I talked about the Orioles’ five candidates to make the American League All-Star team: Hardy, Johnson, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Jake Arrieta. I pretty much eliminated Arrieta because of his 4.50 ERA and 42 walks in 88 innings, though a few more wins would make him a more intriguing possibility. And I noted how relievers usually don’t make it unless they’re closers, which would unfortunately deny Johnson of the honor despite his 2.33 ERA in 46 1/3 innings.

Wieters could make it because there aren’t as many worthy catching candidates, and he leads the majors with 20 runners caught stealing. However, I gave the nod to Jones, who’s batting .294, leads the team in RBIs with 45 and is second to Reynolds in home runs with 13. He’s also played an outstanding center field for much of the first half. But the outfield is a tougher position to crack, though Jones has done it, and Hardy is slowly changing my mind.

Hardy is batting .304 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs. He’s committed only one error.

Derek Jeter’s injury could create another opening. And Showalter challenged reporters yesterday to name a shortstop who’s having a better season.

Hardy missed a month with an oblique injury. I’m starting to overlook it.

So who’s your choice to represent the Orioles, assuming they only have one player on the roster?

One more candidate: A few readers have thrown some love at Koji Uehara, so I’ll do the same. He’s thrown 10 1/3 fewer innings than Johnson, but he’s got a 2.25 ERA and only 21 hits allowed in 36 innings. He’s walked seven - a high number for him - and struck out 46. He’s also given up six home runs.

Johnson has walked eight, struck out 32 and allowed three homers. His walk total should be lower, but I already busted on Porter.

Anyway, Uehara deserves to be in the discussion.

Down on the farm, Jake Fox hit a three-run homer yesterday for Triple-A Norfolk. He’s caught and played first base, left field and right field with the Tides. He’s also served as the designated hitter.

I mentioned yesterday that Fox was batting .353 (6-for-17) with two homers and five RBIs against left-handed pitching since being outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. He was hitting .222 (8-for-36) with one homer and four RBIs against right-handers.

I found it interesting because Fox is a career .206 hitter against major league left-handers. He batted .107 against them this season.

Yesterday’s homer came against a right-hander.

Single-A Frederick catcher Adam Donachie homered again, giving him three in two games. Shortstop Manny Machado went 0-for-4 and is batting .167.

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