Orioles news, notes and opinions -- off-day edition
If you read this blog often, you know that I’m not a big fan of dissecting every managerial decision on a nightly basis. I didn’t do it that much with Dave Trembley, and I haven’t done it much with Buck Showalter. The reason is because I think it’s overdone and it’s a convenient distraction to the reality of the situation: The Orioles simply haven’t had enough talent to compete on a nightly basis and that doesn’t fall on the manager. Having said all that, I was a little surprised with two of Showalter’s moves in the Orioles’ 6-5 loss yesterday. The first one came in the seventh inning when Showalter let Craig Tatum hit with runners on the corners and no outs and the Orioles trailing by two runs. Tatum popped out to shallow right and the Orioles couldn't cut into their two-run deficit. As it turns out, that wasn’t the Orioles’ last scoring chance, but at the time, it easily could have been. I’m sending up Matt Wieters to hit in that situation. I’ve said several times that the Orioles should look to get Wieters more time off so I have no problem with his not starting a day game after a night one. But he was off last Sunday and he’ll enjoy a team-wide off day today so getting an at-bat or catching a few innings yesterday shouldn’t have been a huge deal. The other situation came in the top of the ninth, when Showalter pinch-ran for J.J. Hardy with Blake Davis, instead of Felix Pie. It turned out to be a huge play because Davis was thrown out at the plate to end the game. Davis, who has decent speed, ran hard the whole way and didn’t do anything wrong. Pie is not a good base runner, but he is the fastest guy on the team. I don’t know that he scores there, but I like his chances better than Davis.
I’ll have to take J.J. Hardy at his word, and yesterday he disputed the suggestion that his ankle may be bothering him again. So I’m left to believe that fatigue has set in a little with the shortstop. I’ve grown to enjoy watching how hard he plays and the elegance with which he plays the shortstop position. But it was clear watching him both offensively and defensively yesterday that he wasn’t operating with all his bullets, as Showalter likes to say. Today’s off day probably couldn’t have come at a better time for Hardy, who turns 29 tomorrow.
A lot of you have asked why the Orioles would have traded for first baseman Chris Davis if they knew that he had some shoulder issues. First of all, I’m can't be entirely sure how much the Orioles knew. The club’s athletic training staff and team doctors don’t speak to the media, and other club officials aren’t going to divulge information about players' medical records to reporters. I do know teams exchange medical information before trades are complete, so the Orioles certainly had access to past MRIs and physicals involving Davis. I also know -- and I have been told this by countless players, managers and teams officials -- that it is very rare for a guy who has been playing baseball for most of his life to have a completely clean shoulder or elbow. Most of these guys have some wear and tear on their labrum and rotator cuffs. That’s just the way it is, and most of them are able to play through it. My guess is since Davis hadn’t been getting treatment on his shoulder while he was in Texas, the Orioles didn’t consider it a concern going forward. Or perhaps it’s a new development, as Davis contends that he started feeling the discomfort after sleeping on it wrong while the Orioles were in Kansas City this month.
With reliever Michael Gonzalez and designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero starting to perform better in recent days, I wondered whether the Orioles had gotten any interest in either player from a contender looking to swing a waiver trade deadline deal. I’m told that they haven’t at this point, though it’s not impossible that could change closer to Sept. 1. I can’t say for sure whether Gonzalez or Guerrero have cleared waivers, but with their contracts and earlier-season struggles, I’ve treated that as a formality.
Because we haven’t gotten an update on Cesar Izturis in a while and I completely forgot to include this in my notebook in today’s paper, Showalter said today that the veteran infielder hasn’t made the expected progress with his groin injury and it’s unlikely that he’ll be ready to come off the disabled list when he’s eligible Tuesday.
Alfredo Simon has made a couple of good starts while logging badly needed innings for the Orioles. However, I think team officials believe more and more that if he has a future with the club, it’s in the bullpen. With Jim Johnson readying for a move to the rotation, Kevin Gregg appears to be the only current reliever who is a lock to be in next year’s 'pen. Simon could enter that mix.