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Twelve Orioles thoughts following season-opening series win in Boston

Posted on 26 July 2020 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles winning a three-game series at Fenway Park to open the 2020 season, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The opener was a nightmare, but credit this group for bouncing back. Contention remains years away, but silencing Opening Day hot takes about 1988 and Baltimore not cracking double-digit wins is satisfying. Who would have guessed in February the Orioles would be tied for first place with 57 games left?

2. After walking zero batters in a game only four times last season, Orioles pitching didn’t issue a free pass in back-to-back contests for the first time in five years. It’s amazing how much easier the game becomes with competent pitching. Brandon Hyde will pray for more of the same.

3. How many fans needed to look up Cole Sulser on Baseball Reference after his surprising six-out save to close the series? Claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay last October, the 30-year-old recorded seven swinging strikes on 28 pitches. Quite the fun story, whether a one-hit wonder or not.

4. More than a few correctly noted Jose Iglesias isn’t an ideal choice for the third spot in the lineup, but the veteran shortstop with a .687 career OPS went 7-for-13 with three doubles in the series. I disliked the Jonathan Villar salary dump, but this was a solid signing.

5. Anthony Santander may still provide some vindication for Dan Duquette’s dubious Rule 5 draft obsession. The 25-year-old not only homered and drove in four in the series, but he made a terrific catch near “Pesky’s Pole” on Sunday. An impressive start, especially after missing time with a COVID-19 positive test.

6. Rio Ruiz also showed some power with a homer in each of his two starts. He slugged just .328 in the first half of 2019, but the 26-year-old posted a .462 slugging percentage after the All-Star break, albeit with more sporadic playing time. This is a pivotal year for him.

7. We forget Alex Cobb pitched well in the second half of 2018, but the guy we saw Saturday was what Baltimore envisioned when signing him. That said, the $15 million he’s owed next year will make trading him for anything of value difficult even if he remains healthy and effective.

8. There’s no need to analyze the quality of contact earlier in Sunday’s game or Chris Davis’ run-scoring double to snap his 0-for-10 start to 2020. I’m just glad we don’t have to rehash the embarrassing 0-for-54 streak that grabbed so many headlines early last season.

9. Soft-tossing lefties must command their pitches and avoid the heart of the plate to have any chance. That was evident in the first starts for Tommy Milone and Wade LeBlanc. The latter pitched better than his final line indicated after Miguel Castro surrendered a two-run single in relief.

10. A hat tip to Jon Meoli for this, but Richard Bleier throwing his slider so frequently in his first outing is something to watch. If healthy, the 33-year-old lefty finding a swing-and-miss pitch would be an interesting development for contenders seeking bullpen help by next month’s trade deadline.

11. If baseball promises not to make this 16-team playoff field a permanent fixture, I’m cool with embracing that chaos after an unprecedented 60-game season already littered with asterisks and concerns that it will even be completed. Just don’t ruin the value of the 162-game marathon going forward. Please.

12. I have nothing against the alternate black tops — the “O’s” alternate cap is a different story — but it was disappointing not to see the superior “Baltimore” road jerseys for any of the three games in Boston. Teams should be required to wear home whites and road grays for Opening Day.

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Mancini seeing “light at the end of the tunnel” as Orioles play without him

Posted on 24 July 2020 by Luke Jones

Orioles slugger Trey Mancini reached out to congratulate Cedric Mullins on making the Opening Day roster Thursday after the young outfielder’s well-documented struggles last season.

The 2019 Most Valuable Oriole keeps tabs on the club through conversations with manager Brandon Hyde and teammates like relief pitcher Richard Bleier. He’s optimistic about the rebuilding Orioles’ potential to surprise some critics in a shortened 60-game schedule where “you never really know what can happen.”

But the 28-year-old Mancini won’t be in the lineup as the Orioles begin this unprecedented 2020 season at Fenway Park this weekend and he continues treatment for Stage III colon cancer that was diagnosed in March.

“It’s strange. It’s the first time since I was about 3 years old that I’m not playing baseball during the year,” Mancini said in a video conference call on Friday. “It’s definitely a little weird. I watched the games last night, and it was great to see it back on TV. It was so good to have live baseball back instead of reruns from way back when, which I like watching too, but it was nice watching some new baseball.

“I’m really excited to watch the guys tonight. It’s tough not being there. I wish more than anything I could be out there with them, but I’ve definitely got bigger things to worry about right now.”

Currently living in D.C. and driving to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore every two weeks for chemotherapy, Mancini says he’s starting to see “the light at the end of the tunnel” with just five treatments remaining and scheduled to be completed in late September. He’s beginning to think more about baseball and resuming a career that included 50 or more extra-base hits in each of his first three major league seasons and a career-high 35 home runs and 38 doubles last year.

Watching live games sparks that baseball itch in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s only magnified an already challenging fight with cancer, but he says he’s managing well.

“I’ve been feeling good,” Mancini said. “After my infusions, I’ll feel pretty sluggish and not great for a few days and then I bounce back pretty quickly and have about nine or 10 days of feeling good before I go back. I’ve gotten really used to kind of the routine of everything that chemo’s thrown at me.”

That routine without baseball has included becoming a fan of English Premier League soccer and taking walks around the District. At greater risk to the coronavirus with his condition, Mancini strongly endorses the wearing of face coverings in public.

That desire to pick up a bat or to play catch grows daily, but it comes with a different outlook than dwelling too much on a slump at the plate or his club’s most recent loss when he plans to return to the diamond next season.

“Pretty much before all this, I feel like the biggest struggles I’d gone through all had to do with baseball,” Mancini said. “I never really faced anything kind of like a real-life crisis like this. It put a lot of things in perspective.

“I think, in the future, it will help me in baseball and life. I realize kind of what’s important in life during all this.”

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Tommy Milone to start on Opening Day for Orioles in place of Means

Posted on 21 July 2020 by Luke Jones

With 2019 All-Star pitcher John Means unable to start on Opening Day due to recent left arm fatigue, the Orioles will turn to a new face, but one that’s been around baseball for quite some time.

Prior to Tuesday’s exhibition finale in Washington, manager Brandon Hyde announced veteran left-hander Tommy Milone would start the season opener in Boston on Friday night. The other candidate to start in Means’ place had been fellow lefty Wade LeBlanc, who instead threw a simulated game Tuesday afternoon and remains on schedule to start the third game of the season against the Red Sox.

Milone, 33, signed with Baltimore as a non-roster invitee in mid-February and owns a 4.47 ERA in 174 career major league appearances, 136 of them starts. He pitched to a 4-10 record and 4.76 ERA in 111 2/3 innings for Seattle last season.

“The bottom line with Tommy is that he would just be getting one extra day rest, so we really keep everybody on regular rest,” Hyde said. “I didn’t want to bring anybody back short. In this kind of unusual space and time where we only had a short time to get these guys ready, they’ve done an amazing job to get ready. We just didn’t want to take the chance of bringing somebody back on short rest.”

Despite Means not being able to start the opener, Hyde provided an encouraging update on the 27-year-old who finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting and emerged as the staff ace with a 3.60 ERA last season. Both Hyde and general manager Mike Elias have emphasized that Means’ recent bout of “dead arm” is not being classified as an injury.

It remains unclear whether Means will begin the season on the 10-day injured list, but he isn’t expected to miss much time in what’s already an abbreviated 60-game schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s really more of a little bit of fatigue like we’ve talked about that he kind of experienced last year at this time,” Hyde said. “We’re just being cautious with him. He played catch today. He threw the ball well. He felt great, so it’s not going to be long before you see him on the mound. He’s just probably going to miss a few days and then be back out there.”

Hyde said he savored the opportunity to deliver the news to Milone, who is entering his 10th major league season and has never started on Opening Day after previously pitching for the Nationals, Oakland, Minnesota, Milwaukee, the New York Mets, and the Mariners.

Milone pitched well in his most recent outing in an intrasquad game on Saturday.

“That’s a big deal. It’s a big deal for these guys,” said Hyde about getting to start the opener. “It’s somebody that’s had a pretty long career up until this point. He’s been with quite a few clubs, seen a lot of different things. He’s hung in there; he’s grinded. He’s had some good years; he’s had some tough years.

“To make an Opening Day start, that’s a special achievement for somebody, and he’s not taking that lightly.”

Means isn’t the only promising young Baltimore pitcher who won’t be ready for the start of the season as right-handed reliever Hunter Harvey is also dealing with arm fatigue. The former first-round pick’s long injury history is extra reason for caution after a healthy 2019 campaign that led him to the majors in mid-August.

“I think Harvey’s going to need a little bit of time,” Hyde said. “We’re obviously going to be conservative with Hunter as well with his past. We’re going to try to get him as healthy as possible and make sure that he’s healthy before he gets out on the mound.”

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Orioles scratch Means from exhibition start due to “little bit of dead arm”

Posted on 18 July 2020 by Luke Jones

Orioles starting pitcher John Means was supposed to have his final tuneup for the abbreviated 2020 season on Sunday, but now his status for Opening Day appears to be in question.

The 2019 All-Star left-hander and second-place finisher for AL Rookie of the Year has been scratched from the exhibition start in Philadelphia due to “a little bit of dead arm,” according to manager Brandon Hyde. Right-hander Tom Eshelman will now start against the Phillies, but the more important question is whether this will prevent Means from starting the opener against Boston at Fenway Park on Friday night.

“Too early for that. The last few days he just had a little fatigue in his arm,” Hyde said in a video conference call. “We just wanted to hold him off. We’re kind of just monitoring him day to day. We decided today to have him skip [Sunday] and to give him a little more rest.”

Concerns about pitchers’ health is even greater than usual following the 3 1/2-month shutdown of the season for the COVID-19 pandemic. Means allowed two earned runs over four-plus innings in an intrasquad game at Camden Yards this past Tuesday.

Beginning 2019 as a fringe long reliever and quickly joining the starting rotation, Means became one of the better stories in baseball last season by posting a 2.50 ERA in the first half to earn a trip to the All-Star Game. However, the 27-year-old struggled after the break, posting an 8.34 ERA over his first five starts of the second half.

Means rebounded to pitch to a 3.26 ERA in the final eight starts of his rookie season and finished his rookie campaign with a 12-11 record and a 3.60 ERA in 155 innings.

“Last year around this time is when he started feeling — it’s not exactly the same — something along those lines of his arm just feeling a little bit dead,” Hyde said. “Not quite as fast, not quite as strong. That was the middle part of the year last year right around this time. He’s just got a little fatigue going.

“We care so much about him that I just want to make sure we’re taking care of him and that we’re doing the right thing for him and that he is with us for two months. He’s such an important part of our rotation.”

With the Opening Day starting rotation projected to have as many as four starters over age 30, Means is the easy bright spot from a long-term perspective, making a potential absence a sobering thought for a rebuilding club expected to finish last in the AL East for the fourth straight season.

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It’s been such a long time to have more than a feeling about sports

Posted on 02 May 2020 by Nestor Aparicio

Boston – Boston released August 25, 1976
Despite the muddying presence of disco during this era, there was always rock music in my #MusicalNes life.
The kids in the alley played it. We had three dudes on my block who played in rock bar bands and had vans with equipment and I distinctly remember the first dozen chords of “Smoke on The Water” being played at a backyard party in 1975. And that made me wanna grab a guitar and get amplified.
My Pop signed us up for the Columbia House record “club” for one penny and, voila, music just showed up in the mailbox in a brown box. But here’s the funny part: I didn’t know what the term “jazz” meant and selected THAT as my preference. So every month a Herb Alpert 8-track would show up in the mailbox when I all I really wanted was Ted Nugent and Aerosmith or Peter Frampton. I also dabbled in Earth, Wind and Fire (shoutout to Stan Gibson) and Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key of Life.
My love for Boston began with the purchase of “More Than a Feeling” on 45. And this beautiful work of 70s album poster art didn’t seem so sexy in a three-inch printing on my first-ever 8-track tape but I wore that sucker out. Especially “Long Time.”
It was also among the first CDs I bought in 1984 when I got a player.
The album remains a masterpiece. It doesn’t have a bad note.
Jennifer Ford Aparicio absolutely loves their whole catalog and there is a never a bad time to play it even though it always totally bums us out about the suicide death of Brad Delp. #JennStrong gets very emotional.
I interviewed him at length once on the RTZ tour and we spent some time with him toward the end of his life backstage at a show in Orange County with Styx, REO Speedwagon and 38 Special. He lived near my wife’s family in New Hampshire and invited us to see his Beatles project.
We promised to do it and never did.
Lesson learned.
Don’t look back, indeed…

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Former first-round pick Hunter Harvey called up by Orioles

Posted on 17 August 2019 by Luke Jones

The Orioles promoted 2013 first-round pick Hunter Harvey to the majors prior to Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

The 24-year-old pitcher was first promoted to the Orioles 16 months ago, but Harvey didn’t appear in a game before being optioned back to the minors two days later. The right-hander has dealt with a variety of injuries since his promising first full season of professional ball and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016, but he’s logged a total of 75 2/3 innings split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk this season, his most since 2014. Most importantly, he’s been free of the elbow and shoulder problems that have plagued him for years.

Once considered a consensus top 100 prospect in baseball, Harvey struggled as a starter for the Baysox earlier this year, pitching to a 6.12 ERA in 11 starts. That prompted a move to the bullpen in mid-June and a promotion to Norfolk where he’s posted a 4.32 ERA in 16 2/3 innings. Harvey has struck out 11.9 batters and walked 2.7 batters per nine innings for the Tides.

Baltimore owns the worst bullpen ERA in the majors at 6.09.

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Elias, Orioles quiet as trade deadline passes

Posted on 31 July 2019 by Luke Jones

The trade deadline passed Wednesday with Orioles general manager Mike Elias standing pat with his major league roster.

Despite plenty of speculation since veteran starting pitcher Andrew Cashner was traded to Boston for two 17-year-old prospects on July 13, Elias elected not to deal the likes of second baseman Jonathan Villar, relief pitcher Mychal Givens, starting pitcher Dylan Bundy, and slugger Trey Mancini, who all remain under club control beyond the 2019 season. With Cashner being Baltimore’s only real trade chip hitting free agency this fall, Elias felt little urgency to make a deal if he didn’t believe the return was improving the overall talent level in the organization.

Villar is under club control through next season while Givens and Bundy aren’t scheduled to become free agents until after 2020, but none are having standout seasons, meaning Elias wasn’t negotiating from a position of great leverage and can always revisit trade talks this offseason.

There was reported interest in Mancini, but the right fielder and first baseman doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2022 season and is the rebuilding Orioles’ most recognizable player, which likely made the asking price too steep for possible suitors. Mancini’s defensive limitations also dent his overall value as he’s been worth just 2.1 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs. In other words, the 27-year-old is probably more valuable to the Orioles at this point than to a contending club that’s likely reluctant to part with top prospects for a player ideally suited for first base or the designated hitter spot.

The Orioles did complete a minor-league trade before the 4 p.m. deadline, sending right-handed pitcher Dan Straily to Philadelphia for cash considerations. Straily, 30, was designated for assignment on June 20 after pitching to an awful 9.82 ERA with 22 home runs allowed in 47 2/3 innings and had accepted a minor-league assignment to Triple-A Norfolk where he’d posted a 2.38 ERA in six starts.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts on Andrew Cashner trade

Posted on 14 July 2019 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles trading veteran starting pitcher Andrew Cashner to the Boston Red Sox for 17-year-old Venezuelan position prospects Elio Prado and Noelberth Romero, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. No one knows whether these academy-level prospects will even sniff the majors one day, but it was refreshing seeing Mike Elias target long-term upside over moderate-floor, low-ceiling talent only guaranteed to clog up the 40-man roster. There was way too much of that in the past.

2. This trade was a reminder how difficult it is prying away prospects today, something we saw last year with even an elite rental piece like Manny Machado. You’re not getting much value above the lowest minor-league levels for 2 1/2 months of a career league-average starter making some real money.

3. Credit Cashner for reinventing himself by pitching up in the zone more and doubling his changeup usage from 2018. That’s become his best pitch, evident by FanGraphs’ pitch value metric ranking it the second-best changeup in the majors among qualified hurlers. The new regime’s fingerprints are all over those tweaks.

4. Elias cited the strong numbers from Prado in the Dominican Summer League, complimenting the center fielder’s pop and speed while adding Orioles scouts have liked what they’ve seen from him in his first professional season. He received an $85,000 signing bonus last July, per SoxProspects.com.

5. Romero has more modest numbers and has mostly played third base, but the Orioles like the contact he’s been making and believe he has a chance to develop as a shortstop. Boston gave him a $275,000 last July, per SoxProspects.com.

6. Elias said no other deals were imminent, but Mychal Givens will be an attractive chip if he strings together a few more outings like Saturday’s two-inning save. His 4.50 ERA is mediocre, but he’s striking out a career-high 12.8 batters per nine innings and is under club control through 2021.

7. The Orioles entered Sunday with a record just 2 1/2 games worse than Detroit, who sported a minus-163 run differential for the season and a 6-27 record since June 1. Thoughts of the 2020 first overall pick had to cross Elias’ mind when dealing Cashner.

8. Dylan Bundy isn’t expected to be out long with right knee tendinitis, but the current starting rotation behind surprising All-Star lefty John Means consists of three pitchers who weren’t even in the organization at the start of June. That’s astonishing.

9. Cashner’s Sunday replacement, the soft-tossing Tom Eshelman, didn’t have a good final line after giving up a two-run homer in the sixth, but he was competitive and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings with five coming on his curveball. There’s plenty of opportunity for minor-league “misfits” in Baltimore now.

10. Cashner signed with Baltimore 17 months ago thinking he was joining a club with at least a chance of competing for a wild-card spot in 2018. The Orioles went 75-178 over his time here.

11. I’m not saying a division rival would be your top choice as a trade partner, but any “old-school” belief that the Orioles shouldn’t deal with AL East rivals is as foolish as marginalizing the international market for years. End of discussion.

12. Asked to comment on the Cashner trade after Saturday night’s 12-4 loss, Brandon Hyde said the Orioles are “a million miles away from being where we’re going to be here sometime soon.” I couldn’t help but think the Baltimore manager needed a hug after the veteran starter was dealt.

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Means offering unexpected intrigue for rebuilding Orioles

Posted on 07 May 2019 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — There was no “aha” moment for Orioles manager Brandon Hyde watching John Means pitch during spring training.

Hyde liked the 26-year-old lefty’s changeup and how his four-seam fastball played up in the strike zone, but an underwhelming 5.40 ERA in 13 1/3 innings in the Grapefruit League wasn’t a harbinger of Means leading Baltimore in both ERA (2.48) and wins above replacement (1.1) through the first six weeks of the 2019 season. In fact, he was the next-to-last relief pitcher on the Opening Day roster to appear in a game with the only one waiting longer being former Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo, who would be designated for assignment a few days later.

Entering 2019, there was little reason to view Means as more than left-handed organizational depth with an ordinary fastball-slider combination and a respectable but ordinary 3.83 ERA over five minor-league seasons. His season debut against the New York Yankees in the Bronx changed that perception, however, as Means allowed only one run and struck out five over 3 1/3 innings to earn his first major league win.

The outing included an eye-opening 17 swinging strikes, 14 coming on the changeup Orioles infielder and teammate Jonathan Villar has since labeled “unbelievable” to watch. You don’t get that many swings and misses with pure luck as Means entered Tuesday ranked seventh in the majors in FanGraphs’ pitch value metric for changeups, further reinforcing it being no fluke.

Means began elevating his fastball more effectively last season — a trend seen around baseball in recent years — and sought help inside and outside the organization to both improve his velocity and develop his changeup this offseason, but he still offered no profound explanation for his early success after pitching a career-high seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball against defending champion Boston Monday night.

“I don’t know. I just feel comfortable up here,” said Means, who abruptly made his major league debut at Fenway Park last September in the midst of the Orioles’ embarrassing pitching shortage. “I feel like these games really matter. I was never a prospect, so I feel like my back’s against the wall every time I go out there and I feel like I pitch better that way.”

An 11th-round pick out of West Virginia in the 2014 draft, Means is hardly the first relative unknown to find success in a small sample of innings as critics wait for a return to reality when opponents face him multiple times, but Monday’s career-best outing brought evidence of adjustments in his second start against the Red Sox. After relying almost exclusively on his fastball-changeup combination and throwing only two sliders out of 82 total pitches at Fenway on April 14, Means threw his slider 21 times to keep Red Sox hitters off balance this time around.

The breaking pitch resulted in two swinging strikes, four called strikes, and a sixth-inning strikeout of Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley. Means said the increase in slider usage was out of necessity, perhaps in response to his lower strikeout rate since becoming a starter. The next possible step could be mixing in a few more curveballs after he threw only four out of his 96 total pitches in the 4-1 victory.

“I’m going to need that as I go forward,” Means said. “The first month, the changeup kind of surprised everybody. As I move forward [and] as I establish myself, I’m going to need the breaker and the slider more.”

Of course, time will tell whether this version of Means is for real as opponents and scouts become more familiar with his repertoire and tendencies. After striking out an impressive 13 batters in 7 2/3 innings in relief, the southpaw has struck out only 5.8 batters per nine innings in five starts covering 25 frames, a rate suggesting his ultimate place may still be in the bullpen. His opponents’ .244 batting average on balls in play also indicates Means has benefited from some good fortune with the league average right around .295.

But good fastball and changeup command, only 1.93 walks per nine innings, and a willingness to evolve make Means more intriguing to watch as the sample size grows with each start. It’s a pleasant surprise for an organization lacking enticing prospects at the major-league level.

“He’s still developing, which is cool and impressive,” Hyde said. “What we’re looking for from our younger players is to not only have results, but to improve over the course of the year. Those two breaking balls are just getting better and better, and he’s getting some confidence with it.”

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Britton’s return, Machado’s absence bring Orioles’ expected sell-off into focus

Posted on 11 June 2018 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles cleared the final real hurdle for their anticipated sell-off with the activation of two-time All-Star closer Zach Britton from the disabled list on Monday.

There are no more excuses for waiting to dive into the trade market with the deadline now seven weeks away.

The Memorial Day checkpoint came and went two weeks ago with Baltimore hopelessly in last place. The amateur draft is in the books, removing that important task from the ledger. And now Britton has returned less than six months after tearing his right Achilles tendon, giving him several weeks to rebuild his trade value that’s taken a hit over the last 14 months because of injuries.

Opposing scouts were already watching the left-hander during his five-game minor-league rehab assignment, which concluded with a 1.69 ERA and six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. The Orioles now hope Britton resembles the closer who recorded 120 saves and a 1.38 ERA from 2014-2016 to make him that much more attractive to contending clubs aiming to bolster their bullpen.

“Every time I get the ball, pitch well and help the team,” said Britton, who’s trying his best not to view his return as an audition for other teams. “Regardless of our standing or the trade discussions, the mindset’s just going to be to go out there and pitch well.”

Manager Buck Showalter said he’d prefer not throwing Britton into a save situation immediately, but the organization knows opposing teams will want to see how he handles high-leverage situations sooner than later. Pitching effectively in minor-league games was an important step, but there’s no simulating the pressure and adrenaline of the ninth inning of a major league game. Hopefully the reeling Orioles can scrounge together enough save chances to help him further prove his worth over the next few weeks.

Britton’s return coincided with the absence of shortstop Manny Machado, who was out for the series opener against Boston due to illness. Machado not being in the lineup for the first time all season initially sparked fan chatter about a potential trade before Showalter confirmed the star infielder was dealing with the same bug that sidelined third baseman Danny Valencia in Toronto on Sunday.

Not seeing Machado batting third and playing shortstop Monday previewed the reality the Orioles are facing at some point in the near future.

“I’d be less than frank if I said that I hadn’t already thought about that,” Showalter said. “You should’ve already thought about it. You should think about all guys. If somebody’s hurt, what’s your ‘what if?’ There’s not anybody on the horizon or maybe in baseball that’s a ‘what if’ that’s available like Manny. I don’t need a reminder of watching it tonight.”

Entering Monday 26 games below .500 and 24 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East, the Orioles imagining how much worse it could get without their best player isn’t pleasant to say the least.

But it will be their reality all too soon.

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