DETROIT -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter said during spring training that left fielder David Lough could be eased, at some point, into the leadoff role against right-handers.
Six games into the season, Lough has started four times and batted first twice — in consecutive games against right-handers Saturday and Sunday — after hitting second in his first two starts of the year.
Showalter hasn’t committed to the speedy Lough as the permanent leadoff hitter yet, instead of right fielder Nick Markakis, but it looks like it could end up that way.
“It’s an option. We’ll see. We would like him to be able to do it,” Showalter said. “It would fit everything better, especially when [third baseman] Manny [Machado] gets back.”
Lough batted second Friday and stole a base. In the first inning Saturday, he walked, stole a base and scored on a single by first baseman Chris Davis — immediately igniting the club’s offense. He was hitless in five at-bats Sunday.
“He had a good day [Saturday],” Showalter said. “David’s got the skill set to [leadoff]. There’s a different dynamic when he is on base — any time you can make people rush a little bit and get in a hurry. They hurry when David is [on base]. He’ll open up some things for some hitters behind him if he can get on base like he has.”
Jimenez in New York
It’s not the easiest assignment for a starting pitcher, but Showalter said he’s not worried about how right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will handle being the opposing pitcher in the New York Yankees’ home opener Monday.
In fact, Showalter thinks there was more pressure on Jimenez last Wednesday in his first game with the Orioles at Camden Yards.
“It’s going to be tough environment,” Showalter said. “Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, Opening Day at Camden Yards, which one do you think is tougher? I think our place. I think the expectation of pitching well at our place. … I think it’s tougher for professional athletes when they are expected to do well.”
Jimenez is 1-3 with a 6.45 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees, and he is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts at Yankee Stadium.
“I think Ubaldo expects to do well every time out. I keep waiting for something not to like,” Showalter said. “He’s a good young man. He’s solid.”
Machado continues rehab
Machado, who is recovering from left knee surgery in October, was scheduled for another “functional day” of working out Sunday in Sarasota, Fla., meaning he is doing most baseball activities and is jogging.
He went through the workouts Thursday and felt fine Friday, which is an encouraging sign as the 21-year-old continues to rehabilitate his knee. The club would like Machado back sometime this month, but he’ll need a minor league rehab stint once he can run fully.
“His next step is hopefully running full speed,” Showalter said. “The last thing he's had yet to do is sprint. And to be able to do it the next day, and the next day, so to speak. I don't know when that's going to be.”
Around the horn
Orioles shortstop Ryan Flaherty singled in the ninth inning to snap an 0-for-17 stretch to begin the season. He also began 2013 with an 0-for-17 skid. … The Orioles tripled in all three games in Detroit, their longest streak since they tripled in four straight games from July 4 to July 7 in 2010. The club record is five straight games (done three times). … The video replay system went down in the first inning Sunday, but it was eventually restored. There were no challenges during the game. … With his strikeout of Orioles second baseman Steve Lombardozzi in the fifth inning, Detroit’s Justin Verlander moved up to fourth on the Tigers’ all-time strikeouts list with 1,675. … Infielder Michael Almanzar (knee) will begin light baseball activities Monday. … Reliever Luis Ayala, who is on the Triple-A Norfolk disabled list with a neck strain, will resume throwing Monday. … Right-hander Dylan Bundy (elbow) is scheduled to throw another 30-pitch session from a full mound Monday. … Left-hander Johan Santana’s situational side session is also set for Monday. A hitter may stand in the batter’s box against Santana, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. … Outfielder Francisco Peguero (wrist) will resume baseball activities and start a hitting progression.
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