Orioles notes: Trey Mancini gets refresher at first base before return to natural position

CHICAGO — Orioles rookie Trey Mancini took early infield practice at Guaranteed Rate Field before batting practice Tuesday to work on his first base defense ahead of his start in place of Chris Davis. Mancini said the position hasn't gotten too far away from him in his recent transition to the outfield.

"I don't feel too far," he said. "I've been playing there my whole life, so it's not like going out to the outfield and doing that [meant] playing at first base has really left me too much, I'd say.


"I still feel comfortable there. That's what I've been doing my whole life. Every inning of my minor league career was there, so I'm definitely comfortable over there."

Mancini took over for Davis on Monday night when he left with a right oblique strain, and chastised himself for letting a hard-hit ball go past him as he got ahead of himself and tried to start a double play.


He said calming down in the field is one of his greatest improvements since signing in 2013 out of Notre Dame, but that play reminded him to slow down.

"When I got drafted, I was pretty antsy and in a rush, even if I had a lot of time," Mancini said. "I think it's more relaxing and just making sure I field the ball first, which actually last night, I had that hard ball that got by me. It was kind of a tough play. I got blocked by the runner, but that's a play I should have made, and I worked on that today.

"I started to turn to go to second before I had the ball. So just making sure I had the ball and slowing it down. That's something I've gotten better at, but sometimes things like that happen."

Brach wants a shot: In his new role as deputy closer, Brad Brach has had to watch much of the team's recent struggles from the bullpen as manager Buck Showalter keeps him in reserve for save situations.

Before he pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Monday to get some work in, Brach had made eight appearances in the last month. Even allowing for some rest after he was worked hard in the season's first month-plus, it's been difficult being on the outside watching.

"It's tough, especially a weekend like we had there, watching guys go out there and just struggle," Brach said. "I want to do something to help, and I wish there was something I could do, but it's just one of those things.

"We're going to start winning games here eventually, and you've just got to be ready to go when it happens. I know my time is going to come when I get used. It's just unfortunate that there's nothing else I can do."

A minor league closer all the way up through the San Diego Padres organization, Brach said he only began remembering what those long stretches of inactivity in losing streaks were like when he emerged as a late-inning setup man for the Orioles in the past two years.


"When you go through stretches of winning, you're going to pitch a lot," Brach said. "When you go through stretches of losing, you have to wait your turn. If you pitch when you're losing, you're going to throw 95 games a year. It's one of those things where you've got to wait for your opportunity and be ready to take it."

Yacabonis reflects on debut: Now that he's had a bit of time to decompress from a major league debut at Yankee Stadium on Sunday — no small feat for a player from New Jersey—rookie reliever Jimmy Yacabonis had a good perspective on the outing.

He allowed four runs on two hits and a pair of walks after striking out the first batter he faced, and said the inning of work showed him how important it was to get and stay ahead of hitters.

"Granted, I got thrown into it against a pretty hot team there, and those were two pretty good hitters that really hurt me — [Aaron] Hicks and [Aaron] Judge — those are two of the hottest hitters in baseball right now," Yacabonis said. "So, I think just getting ahead is the main thing — getting ahead and staying ahead, and executing off-speed pitches.

"For the most part, I wasn't really that nervous. I felt pretty comfortable. I kind of yanked a couple two-seams that if they'd stayed on the plate, I probably would have gotten outs against [Ronald] Torreyes and [Brett] Gardner, but I also threw a lot of good pitches. I threw a couple good pitches to Judge, too, that I thought were strikes. It's just one of those things. It's a learning curve going forward and I think the biggest thing I learned is just making sure I get ahead of guys — get that first strike over and be smart from there."

Around the horn: Catcher Francisco Peña cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, while veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson cleared waivers but decided to become a free agent. ... Showalter said infielder Ryan Flaherty (shoulder) threw for a second straight day in Sarasota, Fla., and felt good. … Reliever Darren O'Day (shoulder) "feels a little better every day," Showalter said, though it's still unclear whether he can be activated once his 10-day disabled list period is up Saturday.