NATIONAL HARBOR — Orioles manager Buck Showalter will have his annual winter meetings media session Wednesday afternoon, and surely his decision to leave closer Zach Britton unused in the club's American League wild card game loss in Toronto will come up again.
Showalter has answered questions about his call to pitch Ubaldo Jimenez instead of Britton in the 11th inning of that game, and the ensuing Edwin Encarnacion walkoff homer off Jimenez that ended the Orioles season. Still, as the Orioles form the groundwork of the upcoming season, Showalter admitted in a video interview with The Sun that the pain of that loss still lingers two month later.
"I wish I had that ability [to turn the page]," Showalter said. "This year, it really stung, it cut deep in a lot of ways, the way it ended, and sometimes the way your decisions kind of put your players, your organization and your fans in a defensive mode. It's tough, and I'm hoping spring training turns the page for me. I really am, because you wear it. You take it very seriously, and not just me. Our fans do.
"It cuts deeply," he added. "There's a lot of things people don't see that you wear. There's some things you do, and it's just part of the job description, and you get compensated real well for it. There's a lot of people who would love to have that be the worst thing happen in their life, but I just feel bad for the players and the fans because we had a chance to roll the dice and it didn't work out, and the perceptions and what people say, they've got that coming, and I feel their same pain.
The Orioles manager discusses a variety of other topics, including Tuesday's news of the day: The division-rival Boston Red Sox's blockbuster acquisition of left-hander Chris Sale for top prospect Yoan Moncada and others in a trade with the Chicago White Sox.
"Between what they were able to give Moncada and what they gave Sale and are going to have to give him, it's going to be $100 million," Showalter said. "God bless them. That's them. What they do, what the Blue Jays do, the Yankees do … [Instead, we ask] 'Who are we? How are we going to do it?' We've got plenty of money. We had one of the highest payrolls – I think the highest payroll – in Orioles history. Nobody wants to hear about that, and it's been kind of a mantra of ours it that, you know, play better. It's a given."
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Showalter also discusses:
--His thoughts on having six starting pitchers. How he could maneuver having a surplus of starters next season.
--The money being doled out to relievers in the free-agent market, and the possibility of the Orioles trading one of their top bullpen pieces.
-- Projections that pick the Orioles to finish last in the American League East again, despite them making postseason three times in the past five years
-- The importance of scouting the Rule 5 draft, which will take place Thursday morning.