During his pregame news conference, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he did not want third baseman Manny Machado to play 18 innings in his first day in the major leagues since injuring his left knee last Sept. 23.
He also wasn’t keen on Machado playing the first game of Thursday's doubleheader, sitting for several innings and then using him late in the second game as a pinch-hitter or for defensive purposes.
There were some other factors, too, Showalter said, but ultimately that was the reasoning for Machado sitting out the first game. Machado will start Game 2 and play third base.
“We didn’t want him to sit in the locker room,” Showalter said. “We would use him in the first game if the right situation presented itself.”
To make room for Machado on the 25-man roster, the club optioned infielder Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A Norfolk. Lombardozzi, who was acquired in March in a trade that sent Alex Gonzalez to the Detroit Tigers, acquitted himself well with the Orioles. He batted .292 in 19 games.
The Atholton alum didn’t walk at all and struck out 13 times in 72 at-bats while playing solid defense.
With Machado back as the starting third baseman, the Orioles basically had four second basemen-utility infielders. Lombardozzi became the odd man out, Showalter said.
“I got to tell you, in the past some years, we have sent guys out, and it's pretty cut and dried. But the last two or three [moves], I hope that’s an indication of better depth,” Showalter said. “They know the math, they know somebody’s going, and they know somebody’s going after Game 1 today.”
Essentially, the Orioles chose to keep Jemile Weeks, who has played just twice for the Orioles since being recalled last week, instead of Lombardozzi.
“I think where we are as a club and what our needs are going to be with Manny coming back, just initially [Jemile] might fit us a tad better, but we'll see,” Showalter said. “But that's a good tough decision. Two switch-hitting middle infielders.”
The Orioles will have to make another move in between games to add left-hander Troy Patton to the active roster. He had been suspended for the first 25 games of the year; the 25th game is the first of today’s doubleheader.
There was a thought that the Orioles may go to 13 pitchers and option another infielder, but Showalter said three days off in a row has probably lessened that concern.
So a pitcher will probably go when the club activates Patton. Relievers Evan Meek and Ryan Webb each have options remaining; Josh Stinson does not, but he has had the roughest start to the season among relievers.
In other Orioles injury news, outfielder Nolan Reimold (neck) took batting practice Wednesday.
Infielder Michael Almanzar (knee) had a platelet-rich-plasma injection into his left knee recently -- the same thing Chris Davis received Monday in his side. The Rule 5 pick is in Sarasota, Fla., rehabbing from a knee injury, and the Orioles hope the injection will speed his recovery.
His simulated game Monday went well, and he peaked at 86-87 mph with his fastball. He’ll probably throw a side session Monday with Showalter looking on in Sarasota (the Orioles have a day off Monday and will be in St. Petersburg, Fla.).