**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as the Orioles welcome the Cincinnati Reds to Baltimore for an interleague three-game set with Chris Jakubauskas taking on the talented Edinson Volquez**
BALTIMORE –Returning home after a disappointing 3-6 road trip, the Orioles welcome the Cincinnati Reds to town for the first time since the 1970 World Series.
It also marks the second time the teams have met in the regular season since 2005 when the Reds took two of three at the Great American Ball Park. The reigning National League Central champions (39-37) bring an imposing lineup to Camden Yards that includes 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto and power-hitting outfielder Jay Bruce (17 home runs).
Manager Buck Showalter is not concerned with the Orioles’ unfamiliarity with Cincinnati, pointing to veterans such as Derrek Lee and J.J. Hardy with a wealth of National League experience.
“One thing about baseball, more than probably any sport, people are really willing to share information,” Showalter said. “There aren’t many tight lips in baseball. It’s on paper and what people tell you, but we’ll see. I think it’s good for the fans, I think they like it.”
Of course, similar information didn’t seem to help against the Nationals and Pirates.
Willie Randolph will continue to coach third base with John Russell moving to bench coach on a permanent basis. Russell has been dealing with knee issues that forced him to the bench earlier in the season and has been criticized for several questionable decisions to send runners.
The most recent occurred last weekend in Washington when Russell tried to score Chris Jakubauskas all the way from first base on a double. It resulted in the starting pitcher being gunned down by several feet.
“We want to get John a little close to the catchers between innings,” Showalter said. “Initially, it kind of worked out too with Pittsburgh, his familiarity with Pittsburgh, too. Just a better fit for the club, all things concerned [with] where we are right now.”
Following a critical fifth-inning error that resulted in two runs scoring in the eventual 5-4 loss on Wednesday, Blake Davis will again start at second base in an effort to remove the bad taste in his mouth and restore his confidence. Prior to his promotion, Davis had not made a start at second base in the minors this year.
“The young man has done a lot to get an opportunity, and I thought he had some good at-bats in Pittsburgh, too,” Showalter said. “I don’t want [the error] sitting with him too long either. But, at some point, you have to take advantage of your opportunities, too.
In injury-related news, Jake Arrieta will throw a light bullpen session on Friday and a more intensive one on Saturday. If all goes well, he is slated to return to the mound for Wednesday’s start against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Reliever Alfredo Simon threw in Sarasota on Friday and experienced no setbacks. He is slated to pitch in Bowie on Sunday and could be activated as early as Tuesday if he feels no discomfort.
Showalter also disclosed that second baseman Brian Roberts will have his wisdom teeth removed while he continues to recover from concussion-related symptoms.
Despite the Orioles being 10 games out and mired in last place, Showalter mentioned receiving his All-Star Game ballot on Friday, prompting reporters to ask who his favorites would be for the Midsummer Classic. While trying to remain diplomatic, the Orioles skipper mentioned the same three names most have discussed at different points during the first half of the season.
“I can’t imagine anyone having a better defensive year than J.J. Hardy,” said Showalter, who also mentioned Adam Jones and Matt Wieters as deserving candidates. “Now that I’ve said that, he’ll have three errors tonight.”
There was no mention of Michael Gonzalez.
Here are tonight’s starting lineups:
LF Chris Heisey
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Joey Votto
3B Scott Rolen
RF Jay Bruce
DH Jonny Gomes
CF Drew Stubbs
C Ramon Hernandez
SS Paul Janish
SP Edinson Volquez (4-3, 5.61 ERA)
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Luke Scott
1B Derrek Lee
C Matt Wieters
3B Mark Reynolds
2B Blake Davis
SP Chris Jakubauskas
As we do for every weeknight home game, join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 7:00. Talk about the game with us as an array of WNST.net personalities visit the cyber sports bar throughout the evening! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis regarding the happenings from Oriole Park at Camden Yards!