BALTIMORE — With the hopes of salvaging a win in a three-game set with the New York Yankees, the Orioles will have to accomplish something they’ve only done twice in CC Sabathia’s career.
And that’s hand a loss to the 290-pound southpaw.
While struggling against the Yankees ace is a common theme among American League teams, the Orioles are responsible for Sabathia’s third-highest win total in his 12-year career. The left-hander is 16-2 with a 2.74 earned run average in 22 career starts against Baltimore.
Manager Buck Showalter will present a lineup full of right-handed hitters, with right fielder Nick Markakis the only left-handed bat scheduled to start against Sabathia.
The big topic of discussion prior to Wednesday’s game was the defensive struggles of third baseman Mark Reynolds, who committed a critical error in the Yankees’ three-run six inning and failed to catch a foul popupin Tuesday’s loss. Showalter is sticking with Reynolds at third base for now, preaching confidence that the 28-year-old will begin hitting — and fielding.
Reynolds’ inability to corral a Russell Martin grounder in the sixth eliminated the possibility of a win for Taiwanese lefty Wei-Yin Chen in his major league debut.
“We had plenty of opportunities in that game last night to not make anything like that matter,” Showalter said.
Much was made over Reynolds’ commitment to get into better shape in the offseason and the improvement he showed in spring training. His defensive start strongly resembles last season through the first five games of the year, but Showalter isn’t going to mess with the slugger’s psyche quite yet by making a change.
“That’s part of the reason that he’s in there [at third base] today.”
The Orioles have struggled mightily with runners in scoring position so far this season, going just 6-for-41 through five games. Showalter was aware of the numbers but compared it to a basketball team struggling at the free-throw line, pointing out the importance of not placing too much emphasis on it with his club.
“You’ve got to stay away from emotional at-bats,” Showalter said.
The Orioles manager was also asked if he would go to former closer Kevin Gregg in a save situation if Jim Johnson were to be unavailable on a given night, and his answer wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
“We have multiple options,” Showalter said. “Every club has to think about that. A lot has to do with how much they’ve been pitching and where they are physically. We have really three guys down there who have some experience pitching in that part of the game.”
Of course, Showalter is referring to Johnson, Gregg, and newcomer Matt Lindstrom, but it was interesting how general Showalter was in his response when asked specifically about Gregg.
Second baseman Brian Roberts continues to take batting practice and to work with the team, but Showalter said the veteran is still getting back into the rhythm of a big-league environment. There is still no timetable for a possible minor league rehab assignment, and Showalter was unsure whether he will travel with the team on the road trip.
“We’re going to lean on him and the doctors,” Showalter said. “I’m not going to walk by him every day [saying], ‘What about today?’ … He knows what the next step is. The next step is he goes and plays somewhere. And when it happens, it happens.
“It’s just such an inexact thing.”
(Update 6:30 p.m.: The Orioles have signed veteran pitcher Joel Pineiro to a minor-league contract. He will report to extended spring training before likely reporting to Triple-A Norfolk.)
Here are tonight’s lineups:
SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
1B Mark Teixeira
RF Nick Swisher
DH Raul Ibanez
C Russell Martin
LF Brett Garnder
SP CC Sabathia (0-0, 7.50 ERA)
LF Nolan Reimold
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
3B Mark Reynolds
DH Ronny Paulino
1B Wilson Betemit
2B Robert Andino
SP Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from Buck Showalter’s pre-game press conference and follow WNST on Twitter for live updates and analysis from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.