Mark Reynolds is making the Orioles' pending decision this offseason on whether he'll play first or third base in 2012 an easy one.
After excelling defensively the past couple of weeks as the regular first baseman, Reynolds returned to third Sunday and made two errors in the Orioles' 8-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Reynolds, making his first start at third since Aug. 14, booted Brandon Guyer's two-out ground ball with the bases loaded in the Rays' four-run third inning. That allowed one run to score and prolonged the inning for Reid Brignac to hit a three-run double. Reynolds allowed Evan Longoria's hard ground ball to get through his legs in the eighth inning.
The two errors gave Reynolds 26 for the season, a club record for a third baseman and the most by an Oriole at any position since Cal Ripken Jr. made 26 errors in 1985. The 26 errors are also tied for the sixth most in a season in Orioles history.
"I mean, it [stinks]," said Reynolds, who has started 111 games at third this season and 24 at first. "I have been putting in a lot of work over at first. I haven't been back at third in a while. I guess [manager Buck Showalter] wanted to give a couple of guys the day [off], and he asked if I would play third. I said, 'Yeah, no problem.'
"It's crazy if you don't work at something how fast you feel a little awkward over there, but it's no excuse. I'm a freaking big league ballplayer, I should be able to field ground balls. It's very frustrating. I guess I'll just put in double work during [batting practice] taking ground balls at third and first."
Asked whether he can pinpoint what has caused his defensive woes at third base, Reynolds said: "I don't know. It's one of those years."
Showalter defended Reynolds after the game, saying he has played well at times at third. While also praising his transition to first, Showalter said the club hasn't decided where Reynolds will play next season.
Hudson makes debut
A season that started with Single-A Frederick and included stops at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk continued at Tropicana Field for outfielder Kyle Hudson, who made his major league debut in the Orioles' loss.
It didn't go exactly as Hudson had hoped, as the 24-year-old left fielder went 0-for-3 and hit into two double plays. He acknowledged that he felt some nerves, but he didn't want to use that as an excuse.
"I was excited, but I'm here to help the team win, and I feel like I didn't do that," said Hudson, the Orioles' fourth-round pick in 2008 out of Illinois, where he also played wide receiver. "I'm disappointed in my at-bats. I'm a guy who goes up there, tries to see a lot of pitches and today I didn't do that."
Hudson hit .296 with 23 RBIs and 41 steals in 119 combined minor league games this year. He is the sixth Oriole to make his major league debut this year, following Ryan Adams, Matt Angle, Zach Britton, Blake Davis and Zach Phillips.
"We've had to get a lot of scrambling to get his passport set up," Showalter said. "I don't think when he started out in Frederick, he thought he was going to need a passport to go to Toronto. I think it's a good example for all our guys, they can kind of look around and say, 'It can be done.' But I think also he's in a protection year, so it's nice to give him a look up here in the environment."
Markakis back at first
Nick Markakis arrived in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field, peered at the lineup card and joked that he needed to dig out his first baseman's mitt out of the garbage can.
Wanting to get Hudson and Angle starts and also feeling the time was right to give left fielder Nolan Reimold and second baseman Adams days off, Showalter inserted Markakis into the lineup at first base. It was his second career start at the position for the team's regular right fielder. The first came June 1 in Seattle.
"I think it's a mental day off a little bit," Showalter said. "I think he likes it. This guy's got a chance to win a Gold Glove in right field, but I think you put Nick anywhere on the field, he'd figure out a way to make a contribution, impact this team defensively. The way we are constructed right now with our team, it's about the only way to get him in the lineup and get these kids in the lineup, too."
Markakis took ground balls and throws for about 30 minutes before the game. He was tested early as Rays leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings hit a liner that Markakis handled easily. Markakis made his best play in the third, ranging far to his right to field Jose Lobaton's grounder before throwing to second base to get an out.
Around the horn
Center fielder Adam Jones tied his career high with his 25th double. … Jason Berken (right forearm strain) threw a bullpen session at Tropicana Field and will throw another Tuesday before possibly pitching in a simulated game Thursday at Camden Yards. … Starter Jo-Jo Reyes, whose wife gave birth to a boy Friday, will rejoin the Orioles in New York. … First baseman Chris Davis (right shoulder strain) went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in a rehabilitation game for Bowie. He'll play third base for the Baysox on Monday and could rejoin the Orioles in New York. … Bowie's playoffs chances are still alive after the Baysox beat Erie and second-place Richmond lost to Altoona. The Baysox trail Richmond by a half-game and need a victory today, coupled with a Richmond loss, to make the Eastern League postseason.
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