Orioles manager Buck Showalter turned his thoughts toward those who support the team as opposed to those who are a part of it when asked before Wednesday night’s game about the toll the team's 8-27 start has taken on morale.
"It's a lot tougher," Showalter said. "It's tougher on everybody, whether it's the hitting coach, the pitching coach, center fielder, the general manager, the owner — most importantly, the fans. That's what I'm concerned with.
“I just try to walk that line between empathy and sympathy, but we all know what the reality is because it's right there every night. But there's an opportunity every night. You've got a lot of choices in life — how you're going to treat people and how you're going to try to be consistent in it. These are the times that really separate players coaches, managers, everybody. ... This game can beat up anybody. I didn't need to have the period we're in right now to remind me of that."
The Orioles are in this spot for plenty of reasons, from injured players who they counted on and replacements not playing up to expectations, but also because some of the players they've long relied on haven't played particularly well either. Of all the factors, that's one that still baffles him — and seems to be causing plenty of stress for his players.
"There's so many things that are the same — the baseballs, the bats, the coaches, the hitters," he said. "There's so many things. So, it's humbling, you know, to realize that what always appears on paper doesn't show up every night. It's a reminder of how much the human element plays into this game.
“It's like they say, 'I know the good Lord wouldn't give me more than I can handle; I wish he wouldn't have so much confidence in me.' It's kind of that way with players a little bit. I'd really like to see some of these guys let up for air. If you can see what I could see behind public eyes, so to speak, it's tough on them — especially when you've had the success they've had."
Santander's day coming
With just a few days left before the May 12 date that the Orioles needed to hit to be able to send Rule 5 draft outfielder Anthony Santander to the minors, Showalter said there are several factors that will go into whether that happens.
Santander broke a streak of 65 at-bats without an RBI in Tuesday night’s 15-7 loss to the Kansas City Royals, and brought his batting average up to .204 with a .565 OPS in the process.
That's only a small consideration, Showalter said.
"There's a lot of reasons," he said. "No. 1, what's in the best interest of our team? No. 2, of his development, and what would he be replaced with? There's always some things to be gained by being here. But he's been here, obviously, a lot. What's he hitting now? ... You can't necessarily send down everyone who's hitting under .200.
"He's a good potential long-term player for us. We're going to do what's best for him and his development. And whatever happens, it's been good for him to be kind of force-fed with it. He's a smart-enough guy, I think he'll take some things and learn from it, whether he stays here or goes back down. But I'll tell you this, if he goes down, he'll be back at some point. I feel strongly about that."
That the Orioles have a doubleheader on that date, Saturday, when they can send Santander down creates maneuverability. They could add a reliever for the first game as their designated 26th man, then send Santander down in between to add another arm to cover the second game.
Results expected from Wright, Araujo
For different reasons, the Orioles are carrying Mike Wright Jr. and Pedro Araujo in their bullpen in hopes that they can stick and be long-term assets. Wright is out of minor league options, and Araujo is a Rule 5 pick who had never pitched above Single-A.
Each has struggled, and their difficulties were on display Tuesday. Wright allowed five runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings of relief, and Araujo gave up three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings.
"At this level, for the most part, it's about getting people out," Showalter said. "That's part of development, especially with the number of innings and opportunities that some of the people you're talking about have already had. Araujo is different. But some of our other guys, they've had a lot of opportunities. They need to take it and run with it regardless of how it presents itself."
Around the horn
Showalter said closer Zach Britton (Achilles tendon) might not go out on a rehabilitation assignment until close to the end of May. He'll begin facing live batters Tuesday, Showalter said. ... Infielder Tim Beckham had an appointment with the specialist who did his hip/groin surgery this week, Showalter said. ... Right-hander Hunter Harvey, the Orioles' top pitching prospect, went five innings Tuesday for Double-A Bowie — his first five-inning start since before he had elbow troubles in July 2014. Harvey allowed two runs on five hits in the win.