By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
8:46 PM EDT, August 5, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. —
Orioles manager Buck Showalter expressed faith in slumping first baseman Mark Reynolds, saying he will continue to put Reynolds in the lineup despite his struggles.
Reynolds is hitting .191 (18-for-94) since the beginning of July and was hitless in nine official at-bats with six strikeouts during the Orioles' three-game weekend series against the Rays.
"Mark is playing a good first base for us," Showalter said. "He's contributing there. It seems like he gets a walk a game. He gets on base. He's pressing. He's trying to do the things he's capable of doing every day out there. I know it's very frustrating for him."
Showalter said he believes Reynolds is best served working through his problems at the plate by remaining in the lineup.
Asked if Reynolds would benefit from a day or two off, Showalter said: "I don't think mentally [he] handles that real well, but I'll always serve the team's needs first."
Reynolds was 0-for-2 with two walks in the Orioles' 1-0, 10-inning win over the Rays and scored the winning run on Taylor Teagarden's two-out double after drawing a one-out walk in the 10th. Reynolds has drawn a team-high 44 walks, but he also leads the teams by striking out once every 2.66 at-bats. He has 102 strikeouts in 271 at-bats.
But this has been a season-long struggle for Reynolds, who hasn't been able to find his power numbers. Reynolds hasn't hit a homer since July 16, and only has eight homers this season after hitting 37 last year and averaging nearly 38 home runs over the past three seasons.
"His contact-to-damage ratio has been tough," Showalter said. "We still hold out hope that he can get it going. He's got a lot of good baseball ahead of him. There's only one way to find out and that's to run him out there and let him try to get a feel for it. His track record says at some point it will happen, but it really hasn't consistently yet. He's had some good games for us. It's not like he hasn't hit all year, just not consistently."
Wieters gets green light
After Matt Wieters accomplished a rare feat Saturday night — becoming the first Orioles catcher to steal two bases since the Nixon administration — he joked with Showalter that he couldn't catch Sunday afternoon's game because his legs were too tired.
Wieters entered Saturday night with two stolen bases — in his entire four-year career — but Showalter said the O's noticed Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson's time to the plate slowed with non-base stealers on base. So Wieters took advantage.
With the two steals, Wieters tied the Orioles team record for stolen bases by a catcher in a game, accomplished five previous times, most recently by Johnny Oates on June 10, 1972.
"Buck gives all of us the green light pretty much, that if we feel like we can get it, go ahead and get it," Wieters said. "I had a couple times where I thought I could get there, so I went."
After a 4-0 win, the Orioles — Wieters specifically — could joke about his speed, or lack thereof.
"He's playing it up pretty good right now," Showalter deadpanned. "He's got some people trailing him right now. He's telling them to read the box score tomorrow, that there will be two next to his name."
Wieters also threw out Sam Fuld trying to steal third, making him the first Orioles catcher since Ramon Hernandez (2006) to steal a base and throw out a runner in the same game.
Orioles placed waiver claim on Blanton
The Orioles put in a claim for right-hander Joe Blanton when the Philadelphia Phillies put him on trade waivers following the July 31 trade deadline, according to an industry source.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, by virtue of being a National League team, like the Phillies, were ahead of the Orioles in the waiver order.
They claimed Blanton, who was then dealt to the Dodgers for a player to be named. The Dodgers also picked up the remainder of Blanton's 2012 salary, which was roughly $3 million. The Orioles and Phillies were in trade talks before the non-waiver trade deadline, but could not agree to a deal.
Around the horn
Sunday's win over the Rays was the Orioles' third in their past four contests, and tied the season series at 6. The all-time series between the teams is tied, 126-126. … Orioles minor leaguer Steve Tolleson, playing at Triple-A Norfolk, broke his right index finger while fielding a ball Saturday night. Tolleson is expected to recover within 15 days. … Showalter said the Orioles are still waiting to see if Jim Thome's epidural will relieve inflammation in a herniated disk in his neck. Thome had the injection Friday and Showalter said it takes three-to-five days to see if it works. If it doesn't, Thome could receive a second injection.
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