By Dan Connolly and Matt Vensel, The Baltimore Sun
9:21 PM EDT, August 29, 2011
Standing on the field at Camden Yards on Monday afternoon, Orioles top offensive prospect Manny Machado said he hoped to be here again in two years wearing a big league uniform.
"It's great to see what these guys are going through right now, and, hopefully within the next two years, I'll be up here and do the same thing they are doing," said the 19-year-old shortstop, who was taken third overall in the 2010 amateur draft.
High-A Frederick had the day off, so Machado and his roommate, Keys outfielder Steven Bumbry, drove to Camden Yards to watch batting practice, take in a game and conduct a pre-game interview with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
Talking to reporters during batting practice, Machado tempered his initial enthusiasm when asked whether he thought he would be making his big league debut within two years.
"Hopefully. I haven't really got a plan, but hopefully work hard and get up here soon," said Machado, who has hit .263 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 94 games between Low-A Delmarva and Frederick.
Machado chatted with several Orioles and, at one point, removed his diamond-stud earrings, a gentle suggestion from a coach that he was still a minor leaguer. It was Machado's first time at Camden Yards since an instructional camp last year.
He said his first full season on the minors has gone well — despite injuries that included a dislocated knee cap — and that the jump in levels has been a challenge.
"It's a tough environment. It's tough pitching, that's the main thing," said Machado, who hit .276 with six homers in 38 games for the Shorebirds and .254 with five homers in 56 games with the Keys. "The pitchers are smarter; it's a faster game. So, it's a big improvement."
The Keys won the first-half Carolina League title and are hoping to win the league championship in September.
"We made the playoffs; obviously, won the first half; and looking like we can hopefully hang on and win the second half and bring back the rings to Frederick," said Bumbry, who has hit .247 with 26 doubles and 11 homers in 107 games for the Keys.
Bumbry, a Dulaney High grad and 12th-round pick in 2009 out of Virginia Tech, is the son of former Orioles outfielder and coach Al Bumbry. So he has been to Camden Yards plenty of times.
"I'm a little more comfortable being around it because I grew up around my dad and when he was traveling and when he coached here in Baltimore, so I know the atmosphere and am kind of used to it," said Bumbry, 23. "But you never take for granted any day you can come out onto the field, whether it is either in Frederick or here out at Camden Yards."
New faces on way?
Active rosters can be expanded to 40 players Thursday, and while Buck Showalter indicated that the organization has call-up candidates in mind, the manager said the Orioles will expand their roster only if it makes sense for the team and the organization.
"I think it's got to serve a purpose, whether it be what the club needs or what the organization needs to make better decisions in the offseason," Showalter said. "I know [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] feels the same way. We've got some people in mind that fit, but things could change."
The statuses of injured infielders Chris Davis and Cesar Izturis and reliever Jason Berken could alter the team's plans. If Davis is unable to return from a shoulder injury, Josh Bell or Joe Mahoney could get the call from the minor leagues. Fellow infielder Blake Davis could get another opportunity with the club, possibly even if Izturis (groin) returns from the disabled list in September.
The Orioles might also promote an outfielder, with Triple-A Norfolk's Kyle Hudson an option.
Though the Orioles have enough major league starters at the moment — they are considering going with a six-man rotation — Zach Phillips, Jeremy Accardo, Rick VandenHurk and Chris Tillman could be added to the roster.
First baseman Brandon Snyder might also be considered, but if Mark Reynolds continues to play well at first base, there would likely be limited at-bats for Snyder.
All call-ups should initially come from Norfolk with Double-A Bowie battling for a spot in the Eastern League playoffs. Xavier Avery and L.J. Hoes, two of the organization's top prospects, are unlikely to get the call after their season ends Sept. 5.
Showalter hasn't decided whether he will move right-hander Jim Johnson from the bullpen to the rotation. He said he wants to get through Thursday's call-ups before deciding about Johnson.
The manager hopes to give Johnson some starts in September if the organization decides to move him to the rotation next spring. "I'd prefer that, in a perfect world," he said, adding that even if Johnson doesn't start a game this season, he could still join the rotation in 2012.
Praise for Wieters' durability
Matt Wieters entered Monday's game with a .265 batting average, fifth in the major leagues among qualifying catchers. But Showalter is more impressed with where the young All-Star ranks among the league leaders at his position in another category: games played.
Wieters, who started against the New York Yankees and appeared in his 115th game, ranks fifth among major league catchers in games played. The 25-year-old played in 130 games last year, and Showalter said he is "proud" of Wieters for increasing his workload in his third season.
The key, according to Showalter, is that the 6-foot-5, 225-pound catcher has kept his weight up.
"Matt's done a good job of maintaining his weight this year. Last year, it dipped down pretty good," Showalter said. "I've love to have that problem. … Me, I can't look at a Popsicle."
Around the horn
Machado said he texted Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who like Machado was a high school phenom from Miami, to let him know he was at Camden Yards and was hoping to meet up. But Rodriguez traveled back to New York to have an MRI on his left thumb. … Jeremy Guthrie, Jo-Jo Reyes and Tommy Hunter will start for the Orioles in this week's series against the Toronto Blue Jays. … Berken, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain, is expected to travel to the Orioles' minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., this week to begin throwing. First, his wife will have labor induced early Tuesday morning. … Reliever Troy Patton, who attended a court hearing in Texas related to his January arrest on DWI charges, won't be activated from the restricted list until Tuesday. He missed Monday's game because of a flight issue. … Chris Davis will start swinging a bat Tuesday. … Actor Chazz Palminteri threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
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