Showalter on Machado, and debating Sunday’s starter

Manny Machado played 51 games for the Orioles as a rookie last year. Last night marked his 52nd game of the 2013 season.

Showalter hasn’t noticed much of a difference in Machado beyond the statistics, which included a single and walk last night that left his average at .335.

“He seems to have a pretty good approach about it. He doesn’t get too high or too low,” Showalter said.

“He’s very competitive. You can tell between at-bats and things, if he doesn’t do something he thinks he’s capable of, he’s not real happy. And he’s got a good group around him. He doesn’t need anybody helping him. He’s a pretty grounded guy. You can tell, his mom, his fiance, the people that he hangs around, they seem pretty solid. I think he’s in a pretty good spot.

“He’s handled his success very well. There are a lot of people pulling on him right now, and rightfully so. He’s not going to shorten up.

“One player was asking me something today about a lot of guys around his locker and everything, and I said, ‘Right. That’s good. They’re doing it for the right reasons.’ It’s like autographs. When you’ve got to worry is when they quit asking. Manny’s in good shape. And he’s playing pretty well right now.”

Machado continues to display instincts at third base that you wouldn’t expect from a Double-A shortstop. He provided another example yesterday, racing to cover the bag on a ground ball that shortstop J.J. Hardy backhanded after ranging far to his right. Hardy threw to Machado for the out.

“A lot of third basemen continue over toward the hole,” Showalter said. “Manny scrambled back and got in position to make the tag.”

Showalter described Machado as “a curious guy,” someone who isn’t shy about asking the veterans for advice or an explanation.

“It means a lot more coming from them than it does me over the long haul,” Showalter said. “He’s got a good peer group and I think he’s got a real respect for how hard this is to do. I don’t think he ever takes anything for granted. He’s been good.”

Showalter also mentioned yesterday that Kevin Gausman is a pretty good scout.

Looking ahead to the upcoming First-Year Player Draft, Showalter decided to run a few names past Gausman.

“I asked him about a couple pitchers in the SEC who are on our list and he rattled them right off,” Showalter said.

“He’s a little biased toward the guy at LSU, though. I noticed that. One of his best friends. I said, ‘Which one of those two guys would you take?’ And he goes, ‘I’d take my buddy.’ ”

Would you take Gausman as your starter on Sunday against the Tigers at Camden Yards? Showalter confirmed Gausman’s assignment last night.

I’ve heard a bunch of suggestions from fans and the media. Give him the home start. Send him back to Double-A Bowie. Send him to Triple-A Norfolk. Put him in the bullpen. Convert him to a knuckleballer.

OK, I made up the last one.

Should the Orioles have cranked up the Norfolk shuttle again? Should they have rummaged through their bullpen and picked out Steve Johnson or Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland?

Do you want to heat up a Cliff Lee rumor?

I’m open to suggestions. Fire away.

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