Not a lot of news coming out of Buck Showalter’s Sunday morning news conference, though there were some pretty good off-the-record stories about his days playing in the minors.
Here’s what you need to know, and I can tell you, heading into Sunday’s game:
* Nelson Cruz, mired in a 1-for-28 slump, was out of the starting lineup Sunday. Showalter is just giving him a breather. After batting .287 with 28 homers and 74 RBIs in 93 first-half games, Cruz is hitting .105 (6-for-57) with one homer and one RBI in 15 second-half games.
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He also has just four hits and no homers in 20 at-bats (.200 average) against Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma.
“He stayed locked in for about as long a period [of] time as I’ve seen with him in my history with him, not only managing him, but watching him from afar and seeing advanced reports,” Showalter said of Cruz. “You just try to shorten the bad times and stretch out the good ones, and it happens every year. There’s nobody that stayed hot from Game 1 to Game 162. It’s just who can shorten up the bad periods.”
* Delmon Young is batting cleanup Sunday, the first time he has started there this season. He has one bat in the fourth hole -- a single -- this year.
Young, who entered Sunday hitting .321 in 51 games, has made seven starts since the All-Star break, including four straight. Young is 4-for-8 in his brief interaction with Iwakuma.
“He’s had a little success off of Iwakuma, [so] it also allows us to do some things off the bench later,” Showalter said. “Was really hoping this homestand to give Delmon three or four starts, making sure he keeps in the flow. It’s so hard to do what Delmon’s done and stay … pretty consistent for a long period of time with ending up with maybe 200 at-bats on the year.”
* Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (sprained right ankle) will pitch Sunday night for Triple-A Norfolk on his last rehab assignment. The Orioles would like to see him get to 100 pitches. He’ll join the club in Washington, D.C., on Monday and fly with the team to Toronto on Tuesday.
Showalter wouldn’t specify what the plan is after that, but Jimenez is not scheduled to start against the Blue Jays. Jimenez has pitched in one rehab game, allowing one unearned run in 4 2/3 innings at short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
“He’s chomping at the bit to get back. You can tell. He wasn’t overly enamored with him doing [another rehab start], but we are trying to get him up to 100 pitches,” Showalter said. “He is going to be challenged today. He is going to have his work cut out for him. It’s not Aberdeen.”
* Dave Wallace is back as pitching coach Sunday. He was away for his daughter's wedding.
Here are Sunday's lineups:
Nick Markakis RF
Manny Machado 3B
Adam Jones CF
Delmon Young DH
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
David Lough LF
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Nick Hundley C
Chris Tillman RHP
Austin Jackson CF
Dustin Ackley LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kendrys Morales DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Chris Denorfia RF
Logan Morrison 1B
Mike Zunino C
Brad Miller SS
Hisashi Iwakuma RHP