Orioles notes: Manny Machado back in lineup after day off in Detroit

Manny Machado was back in the Orioles lineup for Friday's series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays a day after missing his first game of the season Thursday in Detroit.

Machado had played every inning of each of the Orioles' 38 games this season before Thursday, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the star third baseman was dealing with a sore finger that was in part caused by hitting balls off the end of his bat.

Machado said Friday that he could've played Thursday, joking that he was "benched" for the first time in his big league career.

"It's not a big deal though," Machado said of his finger. "That's normal stuff. That's normal baseball. I mean, everyone in the big leagues hits the ball off the end of the bat and the finger rattles. It's just a part of the game. It's nothing serious. It's just part of the game. It's nothing serious. It's just part of it. I don't think that's one of the reasons why I didn't play yesterday. I could have played. I just got benched, like I said."

It's likely no coincidence that Machado sat Thursday with umpire CB Bucknor behind home plate. Machado became irate after a checked swing at first base by Bucknor that ended Wednesday's loss to the Detroit Tigers.

"He was real upbeat about today," Showalter said of Machado. "The thing that made me give him a day more than anything was his ability to grip the ball."

Machado played all 162 games two seasons ago and has played in 358 of 364 regular-season games since the beginning of the 2015 season. He missed four games last June serving a suspension for his altercation with Yordano Ventura and missed another game with an illness in July.

"That was the first time I've ever been on the bench," Machado said. "It was weird, very weird."

Machado, who entered Friday leading the Orioles with nine homers and 23 RBIs but was hitting just .224/.308/.441, saw the pluses and minuses of getting a day off.

"You know what, it does [help] and it doesn't," Machado said. "Every time when you get a day off and you come back to play, you kind of feel a little sluggish in a way. You try to keep yourself [active]. I do stuff in the weight room to keep myself going, stay with it so I don't feel sluggish. But it definitely does help the body and it takes a lot of wear and tear off of it."

Smith out of lineup: Outfielder Seth Smith, who was hit in the face by a ball he fouled off home plate in Thursday's game, did not start Friday.

Smith was hit just under his left eye in the fifth inning of the Orioles' 6-5 loss to the Tigers, but remained in the game, homered in his next at-bat and finished the game. He would not have hit if his turn came up in the ninth inning.

"I thought there was a danger issue there," Showalter said. "You do need to see the ball to hit, so that was a challenge. He's had some of this in the past. We all know our eyes real well, how we respond to different things. We kept the ice on in between innings. I'm surprised it doesn't happen more with hitters, and Seth stays on the ball so long."

Before Friday's game, Smith hit in the team's indoor cages and also took fly balls hit to him from first base coach Wayne Kirby to test his eye. But he still did not start.

Asked whether Smith went through a concussion protocol Thursday, Showalter said he believed he had.

"I think that was, you look with the headaches, and he's had some history with something with his eyes," Showalter said. "I think just about every hitter has had something like this happen and they all respond a little differently. Some people when they get that, they may get a headache or what have you. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I would suspect knowing Richie [Bancells] that they did do that. They were up the runway with him a lot between innings."

Bullpen back to full strength: Showalter said his beleaguered bullpen went into Friday's series opener in "pretty good shape" physically after a rocky road trip.

Orioles relievers were charged with four of the team's six losses and two blown saves while compiling a 5.74 ERA on the trip.

Brad Brach, Darren O'Day and Mychal Givens have all been off since Tuesday, when the bullpen struggled to hold leads of 7-1 and 11-8 in Detroit.

Short starts forced the Orioles to dig deep into their supply of optionable relievers on the trip, making three roster moves to add reinforcements in Detroit — calling up left-hander Richard Bleier and right-handers Stefan Crichton and Miguel Castro, all of whom remained in the bullpen Friday.

"Yeah we're in pretty good shape there, but that can change in one night," Showalter said. "We finally got back to seven down there, which means a lot. We knew we had a shot to be a better team with all the off-days back in April. We were able to get through that. We're in good shape going into tonight, but bullpens, you're one or two starts away — we've had a lot of those short starts — having to make some adjustments. But we have some good pieces available if we need them."

Around the horn: The Orioles' recently completed road trip was their first with at least six one-run losses since 1955, the team's second year in Baltimore, according to Stats LLC. … The Orioles entered Friday leading the American League in average with runners in scoring position (.314, 85-for-271) and outfielder Adam Jones led the majors with a .476 average (10-for-21). … The Orioles recognized the winner of Major League Baseball's honorary bat girl contest, Amber Shaw, at Friday's game. Shaw has endured multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy treatment and begun a new career in mammography to help other breast cancer patients.



Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad