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Michael Morse isn't stressing about his slow start at Camden Yards

Orioles outfielder Michael Morse was hitless in his three at-bats Wednesday night and is now 0-for-15 since singling in the second inning on Sept. 3 in Cleveland. He is 0-for-13 as an Oriole at Camden Yards.

Morse said he wasn't overly concerned, and neither was his manager.

“Mike, he's been good, I'd just like to see him get some return for how much he wants to contribute,” Buck Showalter said before Wednesday's game. “Sometimes that can get in the way a little bit … We need him. He's been a good addition; just hasn't played out completely yet.”

Looking for another right-handed power bat, the Orioles acquired Morse on Aug. 30 from the Seattle Mariners for minor league outfielder Xavier Avery. Morse was 3-for-7 to start his Orioles career, but then he went hitless in his next 13 at-bats while striking out four times and hitting into two double plays. He said he hadn't felt any extra pressure to perform in front of the home fans.

“No, I don't worry about that,” said Morse, who was a huge fan favorite while with the Washington Nationals from 2009 to 2012. “We have such a good lineup, that's the last thing I need to worry about.”

What concerns him is his overall 2013 performance. Counting his time in Seattle, Morse is hitting .221 in 303 at-bats. He is a career .283 hitter.

“It's been a tough year for me. I'm trying to get out of this little funk I am in,” said Morse, a pending free agent. “All I can do is try my best. Keep working, fighting and get past this little funk.”

Overall, Morse said he feels like he is fitting in well with his new club — he just wants to contribute more with the bat.

“It's a great team and organization,” he said. “A bunch of friends on the team, so we are good there.”

O'Day was unavailable with ailment

In a one-run game in the eighth inning Tuesday, Showalter went with rookie Kevin Gausman instead of normal set-up men Tommy Hunter and Darren O'Day.

Showalter said in his pregame media session Wednesday that he stayed off his normal late-inning relievers because of their workload and, in one instance, because of a physical ailment. He wasn't specific, but reading between the lines, it's obvious he was referring to O'Day's health.

"There were some, like Tommy, had five [appearances] in his last nine. Felt like we needed to stay away from him [Tuesday] night, physically," Showalter said. "And we had another situation that was not related to workload."

O'Day has pitched just twice this month — on Sept. 1 and 8. He was at his locker briefly Wednesday afternoon and said he had to leave but would be back. He didn't return during the open media session.

"You guys can probably figure it out, but I'm not going to talk about who it is and when it is," Showalter said. "You are all smart enough to figure it out when you don't see them for a few days when you regularly see them."

Lefty Troy Patton also has been used sparingly this month, appearing once in September.

Attendance, TV ratings rise

The Orioles have reported gains this season in home attendance, merchandise sales and television ratings.

With eight home dates remaining in the regular season heading into Wednesday, attendance at Camden Yards is up 15 percent and the club was on pace for 2.4 million fans, the most since drawing 2.6 million in 2005.

The Orioles' percentage increase in attendance is second highest in the majors behind Toronto. Through 73 home dates, the Orioles are reportedly averaging 29,216 fans a game, 18th of 30 in the majors but up from 20th (26,611) in 2012.

According to the club, merchandise sales have increased 89 percent from last season, which is the largest percentage jump in the major leagues. Those sales figures are exclusive to merchandise sold on MLB.com.

The Orioles' regional sports network television ratings on MASN are also up 50 percent, the club reported, which is the second largest increase in the majors. The Orioles are on pace for their best season rating on record since 2001.

Markakis' son born

Christina Markakis, the wife of Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis, gave birth to the couple's third son, Toby, Wednesday. Markakis was back with the club by 5:30 p.m.

"Everything seems to be fine," Showalter said. "I can tell how tired Nicky was when he texted 7 pounds, 16 ounces. That is eight pounds, right? That's a big boy."

Markakis wasn't in Wednesday's starting lineup, but Showalter joked that he knew Markakis would plead his case to play.

Around the horn

Outfielder Henry Urrutia can't travel to Canada with the Orioles this week because of visa issues and instead will go down to Sarasota, Fla., for a few days. He may not re-join the team this year and could stay at the organization's spring training complex until leaving for the Arizona Fall League at the end of the month. That hasn't been fully decided yet, Showalter said. … Without revealing names, Showalter said he thinks the club could get four 2013 Gold Gloves this season and "could be strongly considered for five or six." They had three winners last year: catcher Matt Wieters, center fielder Adam Jones and shortstop J.J. Hardy. … The Orioles will make an on-field presentation to retiring New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday night. The club isn't revealing specifics, but fans who want to see it should be in their seats by 6:55 p.m. … The Orioles wore special caps with the American flag on the side Wednesday to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The hats will be autographed and authenticated and will be available via an online charity auction through Sept. 18. For more information, visit http://www.orioles.com/auction.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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