If the Orioles are going to offer contracts to their entire coaching staff, they shouldn’t wait too long on pitching coach Dave Wallace.
Wallace could be one of the more attractive free agents on the market this winter. A few teams already are checking on his availability.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette told me in Boston that the club was still in “the process” of working on new deals. He hoped to have everyone back for 2016.
Manager Buck Showalter said earlier this month that he expected the entire staff to return.
“They might be sick of me,” Showalter quipped. “I don’t anticipate any changes.”
The staff has undergone changes every season under Showalter, though the departures include former pitching coach Mark Connor, who left for health reasons in June 2011, and replacement Rick Adair, who took a leave of absence in August 2013 and no longer is in the organization.
The list also includes third base coaches Willie Randolph and DeMarlo Hale, bullpen coach Bill Castro and hitting coach Jim Presley.
If Wallace leaves, it’s fair to wonder whether bullpen coach Dom Chiti would follow him out the door. They’re close friends who work extremely well together. Chiti is the equivalent of having a second pitching coach in the bullpen.
Wallace and Chiti were hired prior to the 2014 season from the Braves organization. Wallace spent the previous four years as their minor league pitching coordinator.
Wallace’s hiring by the Orioles was considered a huge acquisition within the industry, with some rival teams unaware that he wanted to get back into coaching at the major league level due to past health issues. Wallace nearly died in 2006 from an infection in his hip, which had been replaced 12 years earlier.
Also working with expiring contracts are bench coach John Russell, first base coach Wayne Kirby, third base coach Bobby Dickerson and hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, who was hired over the winter as Presley’s replacement.
Meanwhile, right-hander Miguel Gonzalez makes his first start tonight since Aug. 30. He was 7-6 with a 4.24 ERA in 16 starts in the first half, but he’s gone 2-5 with a 6.04 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break.
Gonzalez hasn’t been able to command his fastball, which the Orioles hope is due to previous discomfort in his right shoulder that led to swelling in the elbow. Something hasn’t been right.
In his only start against the Blue Jays this season, Gonzalez allowed an unearned run and three hits over 7 2/3 innings on Aug. 13 at Camden Yards. He’s 7-2 with a 2.36 ERA and 0.968 WHIP in 12 career games (11 starts) versus the Jays over 72 1/3 innings.
The current group is batting .206 (21-for-102) against him. Edwin Encarnacion is 3-for-25 with three home runs and Jose Bautista is 5-for-19 with a double and five strikeouts.
Marcus Stroman is making his fourth start this season. He’s 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA and has allowed only one run in his last two starts over 14 innings.
Stoman has some interesting career splits when it comes to the location of his outings. He’s 9-2 with a 2.35 ERA in 17 games (13 starts) at home and 5-4 with a 5.58 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) on the road.
Stroman is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career games against the Orioles. He allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings in his lone start at Camden Yards.
Ryan Flaherty, who hit his ninth home run last night, is 1-for-4 with a home run against Stroman. Adam Jones is 2-for-3 and Steve Pearce is 2-for-2.
Jones has missed six of the last seven games with spasms and/or tightness in his back.
Note: A reminder that the LUNGevity Foundation’s Breathe Deep Baltimore 5K walk to raise funds and awareness for lung cancer in memory of the Orioles’ late public relations director Monica Pence Barlow is this Saturday at Camden Yards.
The walk will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude on the field. Participants may register for the event beginning at 7 a.m. outside Gate A on the day of the walk or online at www.lungevity.org/baltimore.
Here’s another link to my page if you’d like to donate. Or come out and take a walk with us.