In the midst of a streak of 16 hitless at-bats, which included nine strikeouts, third baseman Mark Reynolds found himself on the bench Tuesday, the night after a scheduled off day for the club.
"I just want him to take a breather mentally and let him focus on some things he wants to get better at," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Reynolds, who is hitting .125 with 22 strikeouts in 48 at-bats this season, was replaced in the lineup and at third base by rookie Ryan Flaherty. Showalter said getting some playing time for Flaherty, who has one start and has played in four games, also had something to do with the lineup decision.
But trying to get Reynolds right is also a priority . The slugger who has yet to homer in 2012 and had one in 47 spring at-bats, spent Tuesday afternoon working with hitting coach Jim Presley.
"I am not upset, I am not mad. I'm obviously scuffling at the dish and (Showalter) feels that Flaherty has been sitting the bench pretty much the whole season and get him in there and get him some ABs," Reynolds said. "I put a lot of early work in [Tuesday] , early hitting and video work and I'm just trying to figure this thing out."
Reynolds is traditionally a slow starter, hitting just .216 in his career in April, his second worst month ahead of only September. Last year, he hit .169 with a .253 on-base percentage and two homers. He rebounded to hit 37 homers on the year.
"You can't explain it. Everybody goes through (slumps), whether it is this bad or not. People go through slumps, it's the way it is," Reynolds said. "Sometimes you need a day or two to clear your head and get some good quality work in when you know you're not playing. That way you don't have to wear yourself out trying to get better before the game."
Reynolds predicts that one or two hits in a game can trigger his confidence and get him on track.
"Whether it is going to be a swinging bunt or a bloop or a home run, whatever, something will get me out of this and hopefully, I can get back in there and contribute," he said.
Showalter said he doesn't have a timeline for when Reynolds will return to the starting lineup, but it probably shouldn't last more than another day or two.
"Whether it is tomorrow or the next day, whenever he puts me back in there I'll be ready to roll," Reynolds said.
Flaherty plays at home
Heading into Tuesday, Flaherty had played just one inning at Camden Yards, the ninth on April 7 when he was a defensive replacement at third.
That changed when he got his second start of the season, and first at home, Tuesday night.
"I am excited to get out there and excited to play," said Flaherty, who was selected from the Chicago Cubs this winter in the Rule 5 draft. "It's nice to get a start at home and I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help this team win."
He said he doesn't view starting at home as that different from starting on the road — the nervousness is the same for both.
"I'm sure there will be a little jitters," he said Tuesday afternoon. "I get jitters before every game, but those go away when the first pitch happens. And then you just play the game."
Andino to go on paternity leave
Second baseman Robert Andino will leave the team to be with his wife in Miami as she is scheduled to give birth Wednesday.
He will likely miss two days, and the Orioles can replace him on the roster. Showalter said there are several options, but it might depend on the health of left fielder Nolan Reimold, who is dealing with neck spasms.
"We've got a lot of things we're looking at, which would have to make us reassess it before the game and after the game as far as some injuries and some nagging things," Showalter said. "I just want to look at everyone's availability."
Johnson goes to hospital
Closer Jim Johnson, who had been battling flu-like symptoms for roughly a week, became increasingly ill on Monday night and was hospitalized overnight for observation.
He was unavailable to pitch Tuesday, and Showalter wouldn't reveal before the game who would get the call if there were a save opportunity.
Around the horn
Reimold was out of the starting lineup again Tuesday with neck spasms. It was the third time in four games Reimold has been shelved with the issue. He is still listed as day-to-day. ... Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy pitched four more scoreless innings, striking out six and walking none for Single-A Delmarva. He has not allowed a hit in 13 pro innings, has walked one and struck out 21 batters. … Presley, who left the road trip with a kidney stone problem, returned to the team Tuesday. … Lefty Tsuyoshi Wada had an MRA on his left elbow Tuesday. Results were not immediately known. ... The Orioles released LHP Chris George fromTriple-A Norfollk on Tuesday.