More challenges and Machado trade talk await Orioles this week

MINNEAPOLIS - Because the 2018 season hasn’t burrowed deeply enough under the Orioles’ collective skin, they are forced to play a doubleheader today against the Yankees due to a rainout on May 31, and also lose Thursday’s off-day after rain washed away a May 15 game versus the Phillies.

When did this club become a human dart board?

Catching a break will necessitate the arrival of All-Star week, though it’s pretty hard to completely detach from a loss total that grew to 65 over the weekend.

Players continue to wonder who gets traded first. Distractions usually are frowned upon, but who can blame anyone from diverting his attention away from what’s happening on the field? And it’s human nature to wonder where you or a teammate is headed and how soon.

Attempts to be shielded from social media are thwarted by family and friends who stay attached to it like umbilical cords. And they feed the beast, passing along every rumor and report that surfaces.

It makes for a strange atmosphere, the kind you’d expect from a team undergoing such hardships. Players care about winning. Each defeat knocks a little more wind out of them. But they show up each day, knowing it’s impossible to get back in the race, and need to find their motivation elsewhere - personal stats, pride, whatever. And they keep waiting for the trades to start unfolding and picking apart the roster.

I tried to convince one veteran yesterday to start going down the row hugging guys in the dugout during a game. The television cameras would capture it, causing Twitter to explode with trade speculation and the player could explain later that he’s just fond of his teammates or needed hugs during such a difficult period.

He loved the idea, but I’m not sure he’s going to do it.

Gotta laugh to keep from crying, right?

manny-machado-looks-up-white.jpgManny Machado draws the biggest crowds to his locker as visiting media peck away at him. Would he like to play in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles? Would he prefer cheese steaks or pizza? But he has no choice until the offseason. He can’t pick his city or his position. He goes and plays where he’s told.

Offers are known to have been made by at least seven clubs, and package deals are involved in some of the discussions. Teams have checked whether the Orioles would include relievers Zach Britton, Brad Brach or Mychal Givens in a trade involving Machado, according to a source.

The Orioles certainly are open to the idea if it sweetens the return, but Givens was deemed off limits at the Winter Meetings and trading him would be “very tough,” according to a source. Givens could close for them if Britton and Brach are gone, and he gains value with Darren O’Day out for the rest of the season and awaiting hamstring surgery.

It’s tough to classify anyone as untouchable with a rebuild on the horizon and the team 41 games below .500, but there’s reluctance in the organization to move Givens while he’s under team control through 2021 and still tapping into his talents.

Fans pushing for younger players to get opportunities will enjoy today’s doubleheader.

Today marks the 18th time that the Orioles have started rookie pitchers in both games of a twinbill, with Jimmy Yacabonis and Yefry Ramirez taking the mound, and the first since Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright Jr. on May 28, 2015 versus the White Sox.

The father-son combo of Dave and Steve Johnson also are on the list, according to STATS, though not in the same doubleheader. That really would have been cool.

Here’s the list:

Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright, 5/28/15 vs. White Sox
Steve Johnson and Wei-Yin Chen, 9/24/12 vs. Blue Jays
Garrett Olson and Alfredo Simon, 9/23/08 vs. Rays
Daniel Cabrera and Erik Bedard, 5/13/04 at White Sox
Travis Driskill and Rick Bauer, 8/24/02 vs. Blue Jays
John Parrish and Jay Spurgeon, 9/12/00 at Rangers
Bob Milacki and Pete Harnisch, 8/11/89 vs. Red Sox
Pete Harnisch and Dave Johnson, 8/1/89 at Red Sox
Jose Mesa and Eric Bell, 9/20/87 vs. Red Sox
Mike Boddicker and Bill Swaggerty, 9/21/83 at Tigers
Dave Leonhard and Roger Nelson, 9/2/68 vs. Yankees
Jim Hardin and Bill Dillman, 8/22/67 vs. Athletics
Bill Dillman and Tom Phoebus, 6/6/67 at Angels
Tom Phoebus and Eddie Watt, 9/15/66 vs Angels
Frank Bertaina and Wally Bunker, 9/20/64 vs. Angels
Wally Bunker and Dave Vineyard, 9/11/64 vs. Athletics
Wally Bunker and Dave Vineyard, 7/24/64 vs. Senators

I think of Watt only as a reliever, based on my age and the home run he served up to Lee May in Game 4 of the 1970 World Series. I also think of his crewcut.

We’ve had two games this season with rookies starting both ends of a doubleheader: Fernando Romero and Zack Littell for the Twins on June 5 against the White Sox and Trevor Oaks and Eric Skoglund for the Royals on April 28 versus the White Sox. It also happened twice in 2017 and twice in 2016.

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