Roughly two weeks ago, first baseman Christian Walker was at Camden Yards picking up his Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year Award. On Wednesday, he was in the Orioles’ starting lineup, batting seventh and playing first base in his major league debut.
“I’m just really excited. I’m really happy to be here, and I’m glad they decided I was going to come up,” Walker said. “I’m looking forward to anything that lies ahead in the next few weeks.”
Walker, 23, hit .288 with a .357 on-base percentage, a .489 slugging percentage, 26 homers and 96 RBIs in 139 games at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk this year. After the minor league season ended, Walker was one of a few select players sent to Sarasota, Fla., to stay fresh in case there was a need in the major leagues.
“That’s what we used to stay motivated down there,” Walker said. “All the coordinators, they kept saying, ‘Just stay ready. You don’t want to be the guy that when they call your number you’re not ready.’ With that on the line it’s definitely easy to stay motivated.”
Walker thought he might be selected when corner infielder Chris Davis was suspended Friday for testing positive for amphetamines.
“As a first baseman, you’ve got to think it’s an opportunity, but at the same time they’ve got a lot of depth, a lot of good guys,” Walker said. “If they needed me, then I would’ve come up. If not, then I would’ve understood, too.”
Walker would not have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter, so he did not have to be added to the 40-man roster. But the Orioles wanted to get a look at him, and they’d like to give Steve Pearce a few days off before the postseason begins.
Walker struck out Wednesday in his first major league at-bat against Toronto’s J.A. Happ.
Around the horn
Injured third baseman Manny Machado, who was expected to rejoin the team Friday and be in Saturday’s team picture, will remain in Los Angeles and continue to rehab from right knee surgery there for about another week, Showalter said. He should be back in Baltimore by Sept. 29. Showalter said Machado’s recovery is going well — that his right knee feels better at this point than the left one did last year after surgery. … Showalter announced his rotation for the weekend series against the Boston Red Sox: Right-hander Kevin Gausman will start Friday’s game on six days’ rest; right-hander Chris Tillman will start Saturday on five days’ rest and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will pitch Sunday’s home finale, on seven days’ rest. … Showalter didn’t rule out another start for right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who on Tuesday earned his first win since Aug. 9. When Jimenez may start has not been announced. … The Orioles are not expected to bring up any more players from the instructional league in Sarasota unless there is an emergency need.