DETROIT - The Orioles are taking batting practice this afternoon while the Lions play the Bills across the street.
Manager Buck Showalter decided to start Delmon Young in left field and use Nelson Cruz as the designated hitter. His primary reason involves not wanting to lose Cruz’s bat while making a late defensive substitution.
“Delmon has played left field as well as anybody,” Showalter said. “He’s very familiar with this ballpark, a bigger left field line than other places. You have to use a double-cut here, where other parks you don’t.
“You don’t assume anything as far as a lead or anything, but I don’t want to take Nelson out of the game late in the game if i can help it. By DHing him, I don’t have to do that. He’s also been doing pretty well DHing. Plus Nelson, his personality in the dugout, his presence top and bottom is pretty neat. This guy is very loose, but engaged. That’s the least of the reasons.”
I wrote in the last entry that the Orioles expect bench coach John Russell to interview for the Twins managerial job after the playoffs. Do clubs perceive his value as being increased by the Orioles’ success the past three seasons?
“I don’t think it’s got anything to do with me,” Showalter said. “I think it’s got something to do with the person, whether we lost 100 or won 100. I don’t think that’s fair to John.
“I’m surprised that he hasn’t gotten more play. John’s not that kind of guy. John’s never working on his next job. John’s as loyal as they come, and he loves it here. He loves the way he’s treated and the say he has, but he’s not trumpeting... And those are the best type of guys to hire.
“There’s nobody more loyal to an organization, and John’s not actively seeking this. Quite frankly, that’s part of the reason I’m bringing it up, because it’s sad that... There’s no propaganda with him. It’s, ‘You know who I am, you know where I am, there’s my body of work.’ “
Russell’s resume includes a 186-299 record in three seasons managing the rebuilding Pirates. He was named 2002 minor league Manager of the Year and Best Managerial Prospect by Baseball America after his Edmonton club won the Pacific Coast League championship.
“I talked to you all about the bullets people take, whether it be Dave Trembley or Andy (MacPhail) or whoever. Same way with Pittsburgh,” Showalter said. “I’ve heard John talk about the conversation they had about going through the tough times and everything, but unfortunately, those guys don’t get in-game a lot of times. But we’ve gotten a lot more calls on our people. Because of what Dan (Duquette) and ownership has allowed us to do, we’re able to hold onto them.”
Showalter rattles off the names: Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin, director of player development Brian Graham, minor league infield coordinator Dave Anderson and minor league hitting coordinator Jeff Manto.
“When someone comes knocking for (them), which they have and are going to, if we can’t put them in the big leagues, we can do some things,” Showalter said. “We’ve done some things to keep the good people. It’s not just the good players you’ve got to keep. It’s more about the whole system.”