Orioles notes: Chris Davis sits again at Fenway Park, but will play again this year

Orioles notes: Chris Davis sits again at Fenway Park, but will play again this year

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before the first game of Wednesday’s split doubleheader at Camden Yards that first baseman Chris Davis season wasn’t over, but that he wouldn’t handicap whether he’d be in the second game’s lineup.

“Chris will play again, yes,” Showalter said.

Davis, has played six times in the past two weeks, and his most recent start was Saturday at the New York Yankees. He sat Sunday in New York, Monday at Fenway Park and the first game Wednesday.

After reaching the relative high-water mark of a .180 batting average on Sept. 5, Davis has dipped to a league-low .168, going 1-for-37 with 20 strikeouts in 40 plate appearances in the 10 games since.

The time off won’t spare Davis from qualifying to have the lowest batting average in major league history. Should the Orioles play their full 162-game schedule, 502 plate appearances will qualify one of their players for the batting title. Davis entered Wednesday with 522 plate appearances.

Sisco could be active this weekend

Catcher Chance Sisco, who is being treated for a concussion after a foul tip to the mask Sept. 16, will be checked to see if he can play the final weekend of the season, Showalter said.

“He’s still got, they think, the back-end of the concussion symptoms,” Showalter said. “I’ve talked to [head athletic trainer Brian Ebel] about it last night, and again today. We’re hoping that clears up and he passes the test. I think they’re getting close to being able to retest him. I’d like him to end up active. It’d be a good way to go home. That’s what we’re hoping.”

Sisco didn’t have a hit in 11 plate appearances once he was recalled Sept. 3 for what was his third stint in the majors this year. The Orioles have been operating with only Caleb Joseph and Austin Wynns as the catchers despite expanded rosters.

Starters take shape

The Orioles will piece together Wednesday’s games out of their bullpen, with right-hander Ryan Meisinger starting the first game and the second game contingent on how the first game goes.

But Showalter said right-handers David Hess, Yefry Ramírez and Dylan Bundy are in line to start the first three games of the season-ending series against the Houston Astros at Camden Yards.

Ramírez needed a couple of extra days for a cut on his hand to heal, thus pushing him off his rotation turn Wednesday. But he will be ready Friday, Showalter said. Sunday’s starter is still up in the air for the season finale.

Around the horn

Asked about the success Boston Red Sox outfielder and MVP candidate Mookie Betts has had this year, Showalter said, “We don’t feel like he’s picking on us. He does it to a lot of teams.” Betts homered in Monday’s 6-2 Red Sox win, and entered Wednesday batting .365 with 13 extra-base hits in 15 games against the Orioles this year.

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Showalter: Orioles have 'always wanted to play Adam Jones' as veteran makes third straight start

Showalter: Orioles have 'always wanted to play Adam Jones' as veteran makes third straight start

Orioles manager Buck Showalter had veteran outfielder Adam Jones in the lineup Sunday for the third straight game and fifth time in six since he sat for the entire series in Tampa Bay last weekend, and spoke as if that time on the bench never happened when explaining the plan with Jones going forward.

“Where Adam is concerned, I and the organization have always wanted to play him,” Showalter said ahead of Sunday’s game. “And not just out of respect for what he’s done here, but because of the presentation it makes. …

“There’s a lot of things you’re trying to satisfy,” Showalter said. “First of all, we like playing Adam. I do. And we’re going to as much as we can, because he’s one of our best players. Believe me — every day, John [Russell] and whoever else might be there spend a lot of time trying to satisfy a lot of things with the lineups, but always with the idea of Adam playing. The respect that the organization has for him, and how much he’s been a part of this, and we’ll see what the future brings. But he’s playing today, and he played yesterday.”

Jones’ continued lineup presence while the Orioles are at home, especially for a Sunday afternoon game after a Saturday night game, the likes of which he’s typically been held out from, makes it seem like the game’s location is certainly a factor. With the Rays not in a playoff race and the Orioles not playing before their home fans last weekend at Tropicana Field, it appears it was easier to leave Jones out of the lineup than it is at Camden Yards. Earlier this week, Showalter simply said he has a lot to balance when it comes to Jones.

Even as the team brought up former first-round pick DJ Stewart to join the cadre of alternatives to Jones, also including Joey Rickard and John Andreoli, Jones has started five of six games since the Orioles returned home.

While Saturday’s announced crowd of 23,266 was the biggest of the homestand, even the smaller crowds have found occasion to cheer Jones among all others as the pending free agent’s time in Baltimore possibly winds down.

“I look at the teams we’re playing a lot, about what it means to them and to the teams that are hoping that we beat them,” Showalter said. “I bring that into play. I bring into what’s best — I start out with what’s best for the Baltimore Orioles today, and there’s a lot of different factors in that. I even look sometimes, what’s our crowd like tomorrow?”

Pitching still undecided

Showalter said Monday’s starter wouldn’t likely be settled until the team got through with Sunday’s game, and their announced probable for the upcoming series with Toronto only featured Dylan Bundy starting on Tuesday.

“This time of year, especially with guys who have been pitching all year, we’re trying to put some things in place that cover us in case there continues to be a need,” Showalter said.

During the last turn through the rotation, the team has dealt with short starts for Andrew Cashner, Alex Cobb, Luis Ortiz, and Josh Rogers. Cashner had a cortisone injection to clear up a knee injury, Cobb is dealing with a blister issue, Ortiz suffered a hamstring strain, and Rogers is running up against his innings limit.

“I look at Rogers and Cashner and even Ortiz in the same light — we’ll see how Cobb’s blisters, how that all develops,” Showalter said. “I hope it doesn’t develop. They were talking about potentially throwing some today, but I haven’t gotten the report back on that yet.”

Around the horn

DJ Stewart is starting as the designated hitter on Sunday as he seeks his first hit in the majors. “He’ll get a hit,” Showalter said. … Catcher Chance Sisco is in the lineup for the third time since he was recalled on Sept. 3.

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Showalter: Orioles 'trying to satisfy a lot of things' as Adam Jones sits again Thursday

Showalter: Orioles 'trying to satisfy a lot of things' as Adam Jones sits again Thursday

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he has a lengthy process each time he has to pull veteran outfielder Adam Jones out of the lineup, which he did Thursday after Jones started the first two games of the homestand against the Oakland Athletics.

“Adam and I communicate constantly about it,” Showalter said. “It started in the fourth inning last night. We had a good conversation during the game about the right time for him to come out of that game. There’s a long process, especially with someone with his stature and veteran-ness. It’s not something that just comes together. Our lineup takes quite a while to get to the end game. We’re trying to satisfy a lot of things right now, but I won’t get into the reasons unless you ask me. We talked about it in detail, and that’s the way we’ll go tonight.”

When asked about those reasons, Showalter said satisfying the team’s in-person fan base at Camden Yards who want to see Jones in what could be the pending free agent’s final month with the club is one of “many factors.”

“It’s a lot of factors,” Showalter said. “I’m not going to get into what Adam said, exactly. Be careful about being too frank. I got it. It’s best for all concerned tonight.”

Jones is joined on the bench Thursday by first baseman Chris Davis, giving the Orioles their first lineup without a player who has appeared in an All-Star Game since Sept. 26, 2014, in Toronto. That lineup came as the Orioles were resting their stars ahead of the playoffs, 633 regular-season games ago.

Jones is on the bench with Joey Rickard, Cedric Mullins and John Andreoli starting in the outfield, with recently recalled outfielder DJ Stewart also out of the lineup. With Davis sitting, Tim Beckham is the designated hitter while Jonathan Villar plays shortstop and Breyvic Valera takes over at second base.

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The Orioles' collapse sours Buck Showalter's possible farewell as manager

The Orioles' collapse sours Buck Showalter's possible farewell as manager

The slow demise of the 2018 Orioles is hard enough to swallow, but it’s extra sour knowing we could be witnessing a sad finish to Buck Showalter’s proud and successful tenure as manager. And if indeed Showalter’s contract is not renewed at season’s end, it would be a shame to conclude his time in Baltimore this way.

The Orioles’ free fall is well documented. They have lost of eight of their last nine games, dropping to 41-102 and wallowing 56.5 games out of first place. They remain on pace to finish with the third-worst win-loss record since the expansion era began in 1961, and the 15th worst in modern MLB history beginning in 1901. There doesn’t seem to be any chance for even a small run of success to finish the year and salvage anything.

The atmosphere in any losing clubhouse is never a good one, but Showalter has made a career of building a winning atmosphere and it’s tough to see him at the helm of a bumbling team showing very little growth.

MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli reported that Caleb Joseph called the team’s play “disheartening” and that he didn’t think the younger players were showing improvement. He added:

This is an opportunity to take advantage of some time for these young guys and even some older guys, to get some stuff ironed out. But we aren’t doing it. We are wasting time, we are wasting opportunity to turn this thing around.

And if that doesn’t add to the clubhouse angst, Adam Jones sitting out all three games of the weekend series against the Rays certainly had to create a strange feel among the team. Given Showalter’s tendency to support his veterans through thick and thin, it’s hard to imagine that he was on board with that plan.

He said the team is looking at younger players, but only one outfielder, Cedric Mullins, has the potential to significantly contribute to the Orioles rebuild. Replacements Joey Rickard, 27, and John Andreoli, 28, are wasting space in the lineup when 23-year-old Austin Hays should be getting another taste of the big leagues.

Hays wrapped up his AA season with Bowie on September 3, hitting a homer for the second consecutive game. He could have been on his way to Baltimore right after finishing his minor-league season like last year, when he made his MLB debut on September 5.

But instead Buck gets to use his skills to develop two players whose ceiling is no better than a fourth or fifth outfielder.

If Showalter does leave, there will be much written about how he turned around a proud franchise and a struggling team in August 2010. It only took him until 2012 to return the Orioles to the post-season and end a team streak of 14 straight losing seasons.

Baltimore was finally graced with a manager matched perfectly to the team’s circumstance – a proven commodity, known for hard work and a great feel for the game. And he delivered, leading the Orioles to a 444-366 (.548) record from 2012-2016 and three playoff appearances.

Those were the good old days and until his future is decided, Orioles fans are now left with the tough task of trying to enjoy what could be the final games of the Buck Showalter era.

Orioles notes: Showalter wants to 'have a long memory' with Givens after blown save

Orioles notes: Showalter wants to 'have a long memory' with Givens after blown save

Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t so much interested in declaring a closer for a team that barely gets more than one or two save opportunities in a week, instead focusing on the idea that the likes of Mychal Givens need to finish this year off and reclaim the form that made him one of the game’s best setup men before this season.

“I’m trying to have everybody finish healthy, and keep in mind their background,” Showalter said. “Mike has had a couple good years. This year, he’s trying to finish strong. I try to keep that in mind, and have a long memory.”

Givens had a 2.75 ERA over the first three years of his major league career, striking out 10.9 batters per nine innings and providing a bridge to All-Stars Brad Brach and Zach Britton.

This season, as the Orioles’ fortunes swung the other way and the bullpen didn’t have as many leads to protect and struggled to do so when asked, Givens has a 4.76 ERA, raised by the two-run, game-winning home run hit Saturday night by Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield.

After that game, and before Sunday’s, Showalter said Givens would be one of several to be evaluated in the closer’s role going forward. He said Sunday they’re “looking at all options right now to make sure we make good decisions going forward.

“I’m not going to get backed into a corner here, there or whatever,” Showalter said. “We’ll see what best serves the needs of the players and the organization on a given night. I’m not going to have Mike sit around for five days waiting on a close situation. I’m not going to have Mike Wright, all those guys. I’m sure we’ll get a couple pitchers back here shortly. I don’t know if it’s so much a role as it is… first of all, you’ve got to get people out and just pitch when you’re asked to pitch and take advantage of the opportunity. That goes for everybody, including Mike, and some other guys.”

Rule 5 roundup

Outfielder Anthony Santander, who was on the disabled list at Double-A Bowie with a knee infection, hit a home run and doubled Saturday in his first multi-hit game in nine since being activated to Triple-A Norfolk.

Santander has hit .249 with a .692 OPS since being optioned to the minors once the team let him meet his Rule 5 roster requirements, but Showalter said adding him once the Norfolk season is over “would be something worthy of discussion.

“That’s something we’ve talked about with [executive vice president Dan Duquette] once their season’s over,” Showalter said. “It’s a consideration.”

Another Rule 5, right-hander Pedro Araujo, won’t be back this year, though. Showalter said he hasn’t made enough progress coming back from his right elbow injury to be a candidate to come back in September, so he’ll have to finish off his 17-day roster requirement next spring.

Rogers returns to mound

Showalter said Monday’s start against the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Josh Rogers is a good evaluation tool as the Orioles try and learn as much as he they can about him before he hits his innings limit.

“I think different competition, on the road against a really good club vying or the playoffs,” Showalter said. “It’s another good scenario to watch him maturing, and I’m anxious to see him pitch in that environment and do things you ask young pitchers to do – pitch on the west coast, pitch on the road, pitch at night, pitch in the day. It’s just another thing, not so much to evaluate, as much as to give him that experience and see how he responds to it.”

Around the horn

Outfielder Adam Jones was out of the lineup Sunday so the team could continue to get a look at waiver claim John Andreoli. … Tim Beckham is “banged up” and was left out of the lineup, as was Renato Núñez. Jace Peterson got the start at third base, with Breyvic Valera at second base. Jonathan Villar is at shortstop.

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Buck Showalter on the Orioles' rebuild: 'I think hope is a good thing'

Buck Showalter on the Orioles' rebuild: 'I think hope is a good thing'

Orioles manager Buck Showalter on Sunday reflected on the year that took the Orioles from wild-card contenders to one of the worst seasons in baseball history, and as the team’s rebuild is pitched to a national primetime audience on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” there was one word he kept coming back to: hope.

“I think hope is a great thing,” Showalter said. “Hope. It’s kind of similar to when I first came here. You’ve got to know who you are and how you’re going to do it and stay true to it and be honest with the fans, [saying] ‘Here’s what we’re going to do, here’s how we’re going to do it and stay with it,’ and you’ll get a return for it. And when? If you think that I wouldn’t go into next year trying to win as many games as possible and see what could be…”

The Orioles have been publicly leaning into their status as a rebuilding club since last month’s trade of All-Star Manny Machado, who was quickly followed out the door by Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop. Executive vice president Dan Duquette had plenty of areas to target to get the Orioles back to where they’d like to be competitively, including investment in analytics, international and pro scouting, player development and nutrition, among other things.

Showalter sees two things that will make the process go smoothly from his standpoint — good evaluation and good communication.

On the first point, Showalter said you have to be able to judge “not only the tools, but the makeup part of it, which is a big separator.”

“It’s funny, we have more analytical ways to evaluate players than ever before, but it seems like there’s more mistakes being made on players than ever before,” he said. “Sometimes, I think that we have all this stuff that analytically, physically, you can put your hands on, what a guy can do down a line or his range or whatever. But it seems to be still a challenge to identify the human element.”

On the communication aspect, Showalter said teams like the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros going through long periods of losing before they won a championship helps fans and observers at least understand what the Orioles will be attempting, though he noted how the Cubs and Astros consistently hit on their high draft picks and made shrewd moves around those young cores.

“You’ve got to stay the course, and you’ve got to keep fans educated — not educated, you don’t educate them — you just make sure they know why and what’s going on, especially here,” he said. “They just want the Orioles to be good, and they wanted to make a commitment and see it through. …

“Whether it’s societal or whatever, people are willing to do just about everything if they know there’s hope. Once again, there’s that word. There’s hope that this is going to get better. That’s all people [want]. You want to be a part of something that brings that everywhere you turn. It’s the ushers, it’s a multi-organizational thing. It’s everything. It’s the presentation of hope.”

As for what markers of hope the Orioles are presenting since their trades began at the All-Star break, Showalter said “that’s a question for the end of the year, the end-game.” Despite the trades, they haven’t gotten much younger on the field. Of their regulars, only Cedric Mullins and Renato Núñez are under the age of 24. And despite significant attention, the team’s defense has been a constant challenge to find consistency with.

“A guy like Cedric — I feel like he’s presented himself well,” Showalter said. “I actually think Austin Wynns has had some moments, too, where he’s starting and you think he might be getting it. Núñez has improved defensively at third, that was a big step for him. I can always find something positive.”

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