Orioles continue search for leadoff hitter

The Orioles are recalling catcher Austin Wynns from Triple-A Norfolk today to replace Andrew Susac, who was optioned last night. Wynns, 27, will be making his major league debut.

It’s termed “recalled” because he’s on the 40-man roster.

The leadoff carousel spun in Joey Rickard’s direction yesterday, with the outfielder and former Rule 5 pick chosen to bat atop the order.

If not him, then who?

Manager Buck Showalter has used seven different players in the leadoff spot, with Rickard receiving his second start yesterday. Trey Mancini has done it in 43 games this season, Chris Davis in five, Craig Gentry in three, Tim Beckham and Jace Peterson in two, and Jonathan Schoop in one.

The group had posted a .210 average before yesterday that tied with the Angels for last in the majors. The Athletics and Padres were tied for 27th with a .216 average.

Rickard hit a solo home run yesterday off Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka while going 1-for-5.

The lack of a prototypical leadoff hitter on the roster didn’t catch anyone by surprise. It didn’t sneak up on anybody. Showalter has made it work in the past, his unconventional choices including Nick Markakis and Adam Jones.

Mancini fell into a deep slump that forced him out of the role. Davis was given the job coming out of spring training in an attempt to jumpstart his bat and his season, but he went 1-for-20 in five games.

Tim-Beckham-at-bat-white-sidebar.jpgBeckham hit leadoff in 48 games last season, posting a .259/.302/.429 slash line. He has a career .305 on-base percentage and some high strikeout totals, and he’s currently on the disabled list following core muscle surgery.

Gentry and Rickard are elevated to the top mainly due to their speed and the chance that they might swipe a base. If they can get on it, of course. Gentry is batting .221. Rickard has a .250 average with five hits in his last 30 at-bats.

Schoop was lowered from the cleanup position due to a plummeting average and rising strikeout rate. He was hitting .231/.258/.378 on the season and was 11-for-53 (.207) in his last 13 games before going 2-for-4 yesterday.

Peterson offered the promise of some quality at-bats and, well, someone had to do it. He’s batting .178 and went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts atop the order.

Manny Machado leads the Orioles with a .398 on-base percentage, but he also ranks first in everything else and ideally should be in the heart of the order.

Mark Trumbo has been inserted into every slot in the lineup over his career except first and ninth. The ultimate non-prototypical guy to lead off. But his .292 average and .320 on-base percentage make him as suitable as anyone else despite the strikeouts.

No one on this team steals bases, which eliminates that argument. The Orioles were 26th in the majors with 17. Gentry leads them with seven. Rickey Henderson swiped that many in a doubleheader.

Rookie Chance Sisco has a .325 on-base percentage, but also a .210 average and sporadic playing time.

“It’s been a challenge for us for a while now,” Showalter said. “It tells you how rare those guys are to find them. Trey was doing a pretty good job for us until he fell on some tougher times, but he’ll be back.

“Conventionally speaking, it’s hard to get in today’s game players to really embrace what we viewed leadoff guys for years to be. And it’s been a challenge for all of baseball, not just us.”

The Yankees are starting right-hander Domingo Germán in today’s series finale. His first appearance came against the Orioles in relief on April 8 and he allowed three runs and three hits in 2 2/3 innings. He struck out five batters.

Anthony Santander homered off Germán, but he’s in Bowie.

Germán’s major league debut came against the Orioles on June 11, 2017, also out of the bullpen. He tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

Today marks his first appearance at Camden Yards.

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