The tarp is off the field. Lines are being drawn in chalk. Infield dirt is being raked.
It appears that Game 1 of the American League Championship Series will start on time.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked earlier today whether he’d rather play three hours in a light rain or five days in a row.
“Yes,” he replied.
A classic response from Showalter. Just give him a starting time and his team will be ready.
“We’re pretty excited to be playing,” he said. “The big thing is in 2012 we had like a 2 1/2-hour rain delay with the fans, and I remember someone saying in the clubhouse, ‘I hope the fans stay.’ I remember Jonesy (Adam Jones) saying, ‘They’ve been waiting around 13, 14 years. They’ll be here.’
“We’re doing everything. I know MLB and the Orioles are doing everything they can. Right now, it looks like we’ve got a shot at starting on time and playing. Those around the Chesapeake Bay know how that can change. We have a great grounds crew. I know they’ll do the job.”
Royals manager Ned Yost said he prefers to play in the rain tonight if the alternative is a postponement.
“I just feel that we’re ready for this,” he said. “We’ve had four days off. The rain doesn’t scare us. I’d just as soon play tonight and have the off day on Sunday.”
Both teams are known for their strong defenses. Yost was asked whether he detected a discernible difference between them.
“They’re both extremely strong defensive teams,” he replied. “(Manny) Machado, that hurts them a little bit. This kid is the best third baseman in the American League, as far as I’m concerned. Defensively, he was tremendous, so that helps us a little bit. But their defense is strong, their pitching is strong. It’s a tough team.”
These teams also are known for their bullpens. Are there any differences?
“They’re both quality bullpens,” said Orioles reliever Darren O’Day. “Kansas City has a long tradition of having a good bullpen. In 2008, they had Ramon Ramirez and Joakim Soria. I remember thinking, seeing these guys in their rookie year, and I looked at them and said, ‘Is this how all the bullpens are?’ They keep finding these guys that throw upper 90s and keep showing them up there and they all have good secondary pitches.
“I guess you could say ours is a little different. We kind of came together in different ways. We had some guys that were starters, and now we’ve been stuffed off to the bullpen and kind of come to the dark side. And we’re happy to have them. (Andrew) Miller, (Zach) Britton, (Brian) Matusz, (Tommy) Hunter. Myself and Brad Brach are the only guys that never started a professional game in our bullpen.
“We came together in a different way. I’ll take our bullpen any day of the week. I have a lot of respect for those guys. It’s a lot of fun to watch them go about their business.”
Showalter was asked where the Orioles would be without Nelson Cruz, an MVP candidate in the American League.
“Would we be here without Nelson? You know, easy answer is, ‘No,’ but can you imagine without (Matt) Wieters, without Manny, without Chris Davis?” he asked.
“I think we’re so quick in the game to say, ‘Oh my gosh, you can’t trade this guy. Oh my gosh, you’ve got to have this guy. You can’t let him go. Oh my gosh, that coach or manager has got to stay.’ Of course not. The game is going to move on.
“I’ve very hesitant about saying, especially with this club, that you can’t have something positive happen as a team if X guy wasn’t here. That’s one thing we’ve talked to (Cruz). This game is going to move on with or without you. But with all that being said, he’s been a huge part of what we’ve been able to do.”