ARLINGTON, Texas — A couple of wisecracking Orioles couldn't help themselves when they watched Tommy Hunter against the dugout railing shaking hands with members of the Texas media or Chris Davis and Omar Quintanilla chatting with Rangers fans in the stands.
"Cut the cord," one player coughed into his glove.
"You're an Oriole now," another one jabbed.
Traveling to Texas is as much a homecoming as it is another tough road trip for the Orioles these days. Six Orioles on the 25-man roster — Davis, Hunter, Quintanilla, Darren O'Day, Taylor Teagarden and Pedro Strop — played for the Rangers at one point. Zach Britton, Lew Ford, O'Day, Davis, Teagarden and Quintanilla were born, grew up or still live in Texas.
Buck Showalter managed the Rangers and four of his coaches — John Russell, DeMarlo Hale, Rick Adair and Wayne Kirby — have ties to the organization.
"I think sometimes old guys like me, maybe we don't take that into perspective as much as we should," Showalter said of the importance of the homecoming. "The players, whether it is Chris or Darren or Petey or Tommy Hunter … it is something I think that means something to them. They are very proud of the time they've spent here and some of the great relationships they had."
There's also a flip side. The Rangers, to differing extents, gave up on the players, whether it was putting them on waivers or dealing them in a pennant push. Hunter, for instance, actually started a World Series game for the Rangers in 2010, but he was included in the July 2011 deadline deal, along with Davis, for reliever Koji Uehara.
"He certainly wasn't a guy we wanted to give up, but to get what we needed we had to give him up," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Hunter. "He was in the learning process, and he's still learning. Once he figures it out, he's going to be a valuable piece."
Perhaps the best player the Orioles have received from the Rangers is Strop, who was involved in last year's Michael Gonzalez transaction. Strop pitched in 33 games in parts of three seasons with Texas, but he struggled with control and consistency. He has settled in with the Orioles and been one of the best set-up men in the American League.
Heading into Tuesday, Strop still hadn't pitched in Arlington since he came to the Orioles, so he said he wasn't sure how he'd feel once he took the mound against his old team.
"I won't know what it will be like until I get out there. I have a lot of friends over there, but when it is game time, it's game time. I don't care who is in there," Strop said. "To be honest, what I'm thinking, what is on my mind right now, is the Orioles going to the playoffs and to help hold this team together. If I put too much emphasis on, 'Oh, I was there. I want them to see how I'm pitching,' it might bring pressure to me that I don't want to get, I don't want to have. I want to relax and do what I've been doing."
Reynolds fined; not suspended
Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds has been fined an undisclosed amount of money for his comments following his ejection Friday in Detroit, according to an industry source.
But he will not be suspended, which the Orioles had feared after Reynolds ripped the umpiring crew's credibility after it overturned an out call at first base in the fifth inning. Reynolds was pulled off first by a difficult throw from Manny Machado, but replays showed that Reynolds appeared to hang onto the base for a moment before lunging forward.
It was originally called an out by the first base umpire, but was overturned by the home plate ump, causing Reynolds to throw his glove to the ground and, subsequently, be ejected by second base umpire Vic Carapazza.
Afterward, Reynolds called the decision to overturn the play "embarrassing," complained that he deserved an equipment fine and not an ejection and suggested that the umpires had a "Screw the Orioles" mentality.
Showalter also was ejected from the game. No extra discipline was expected for Showalter.
Hammel scheduled for Friday sim game
Jason Hammel, who had surgery on his right knee in July, threw 41 pitches in a mound session Tuesday and also went through pitcher's fielding practice for the first time since loose bodies were removed from his knee.
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He felt good after Tuesday's session and, if no pain lingers this week, he will throw a two- or three-inning simulated game Friday at Camden Yards, Showalter said. Hitters will stand in the batter's box while Hammel throws from the mound.
"That's what our hope is, Friday. I thought that was good news," Showalter said. "We'll have to wait and see [Wednesday]. He was pretty gassed; he got after it pretty good today."
The Orioles have been optimistic that Hammel will return to the rotation in September. In 18 starts this year, Hammel was 8-6 with a 3.54 ERA before going on the disabled list July 15.
Around the horn
Designated hitter Jim Thome (neck) is expected to arrive in Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday to begin rehab activities. Because the Gulf Coast League schedule ends Saturday, Thome will likely have to go on a minor league rehab assignment to another affiliate. He is not expected to be ready to play in a game by this weekend. … Hunter starts Wednesday. He has never pitched against the Rangers in Arlington, but he faced them once this year in Baltimore, allowing four runs in five innings, and was charged with the loss. … With a single in the third inning Tuesday, Machado has hit safely in eight of his 12 games in the big leagues. He attempted to stretch the single into a double, but was thrown out by left fielder David Murphy.