Orioles third baseman Tim Beckham has reclaimed the leadoff spot he thrived in during his debut with the club late last summer, but manager Buck Showalter believes there's still a level of consistency Beckham must find as he returns to form following a long layoff.
"Timmy, it's kind of a two-step forward and one a little bit back, offensively," Showalter said of the 28-year-old, who re-entered the team’s regular lineup June 25, after core muscle surgery had sidelined him for two months. "He'll have that one really good at-bat that'll go, 'Boom, there it is.' It'd be hard to imagine that he could have the type of month that he had when he first came to us, but I think Tim would like to settle into a little more consistency. He'll show it to you."
Beckham's time with the Orioles since his July 31 trade from the Tampa Bay Rays last season has been defined by his extreme streakiness. Beckham hit .394/.417/.646 with 18 extra-base hits in August, then plummeted in September, when he batted .180 with a .603 OPS and seven extra-base hits.
Beckham also struggled earlier this season before the operation, which repaired a pair of groin problems he had put off surgery for.He hit .323 in his first eight games back before batting .189 in his last nine entering Friday’s game against the Texas Rangers.
"I think little by little, I don't want to say it's a new body, but he's starting to get more comfortable, I think, in running and turning things loose, stopping and starting," Showalter said. "He's got a lot of things that have been a challenge for him in the past that he has to make sure aren't still there. I think he's getting more confident with it."
Yacabonis’ status Sunday unclear
With Chris Tillman throwing a bullpen session Friday at Triple-A Norfolk ahead of a start Sunday for the Tides, Showalter had said right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis likely would be summoned to start the Orioles’ first-half finale against the Texas Rangers.
But Showalter said after the Orioles’ 5-4 loss Friday that Yacabonis (0-0, 7.15 ERA) was sick and might not be available. He has started twice for the Orioles, most recently in their doubleheader Monday against the New York Yankees. He can be recalled for Sunday because he served as the 26th man for that doubleheader, meaning it didn’t restart his 10-day minor league option clock.
“We’re going to have to wait and see how he is the next day or so,” Showalter said. “They tested him for strep throat and some other things. We’re trying to get our arms around it, whether he’s going to be available for Sunday or not. ”
Showalter indicated that Tillman (lower-back strain) could be added to the roster after the All-Star break once his rehabilitation period ends.
"I know [executive vice president] Dan [Duquette] and I talked a little bit about some of the post-All-Star look, so to speak," Showalter said. "We know [Andrew] Cashner will come off the DL shortly after the break, and a couple of other things. We'll wait and see. Hopefully, [Craig] Gentry will be making some progress by then. He's heading to Sarasota during the break. ... A lot of those things will kind of affect the shape of the roster as we go forward."
Streaking on the farm
Three Orioles prospects on Thursday extended long hitting streaks as their clubs came out of the minor league All-Star break. Third baseman Ryan Mountcastle pushed his hitting streak to 13 games for Double-A Bowie with a single in the fourth inning, then helped the Baysox complete a ninth-inning comeback with a two-out, go-ahead double. His teammate, outfielder Ryan McKenna, had a hit in his 10th straight game in Bowie’s 7-5 win.
Outfielder Cedric Mullins, who had a 12-game hitting streak at Bowie this season that until Thursday was the club's longest this year, extended his current streak at Norfolk to 12 games.
Around the horn
The Orioles signed left-handed reliever Sean Gilmartin to a minor league contract and assigned him to Norfolk, the Tides announced Friday. The St. Louis Cardinals released Gilmartin, who has a 4.14 major league ERA for his career, from their Triple-A affiliate in Memphis earlier this month.