The Orioles’ afternoon series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays is the team’s last game before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. nonwaiver trade deadline. The team is off Monday and opens a brief two-game series Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
The team has drawn steady interest in Jones, who can navigate his landing spot because of his 10-and-5 trade protection rights, with the Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies still considered the leaders. But the Orioles are also looking to move the team’s other pending free agent, reliever Brad Brach, and have engaged discussions on controllable players such as Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman, though it doesn’t appear imminent that the team will trade them.
Still, all trade discussions are considered “serious” at this point, according to a source, simply because of how close the deadline is. So, Showalter must be prepared.
“As a human being, it crosses your mind,” Showalter said of the possibility of the players’ final games. “You don’t dwell on it. But we haven’t been in this situation in a long time here. I’ve had experience at it before, but when you have such a long relationship with guys that you’ve been around so long, you try not to dwell on it because it’s kind of — I don’t want to say painful in today’s world — but it’s kind of sobering.”
Showalter noted the other side of the trades — the prospects acquired in the team’s rebuild — that are already in place after trading Manny Machado and Zach Britton.
“As unpleasant a thought as that might be, it’s also a real pleasant thought to watch a guy pitch in Triple-A, [Dillon] Tate and [Dean] Kremer pitching today in Double-A in a doubleheader. [Rylan] Bannon had two big hits last night. [Yusniel] Díaz is playing, I’m really impressed, in the outfield. We were talking about those things when I’m sure when we acquired Adam and Chris [Davis] and signed Manny and [Matt] Wieters, [Nick] Markakis, all the things this organization has done over the years. There’s both sides of that.”
Atlanta-area native Beckham: ‘Chipper was the man’
Growing up outside Atlanta, Orioles shortstop Tim Beckham grew up as a fan of former Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who is one of six players being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
“Chipper was the man,” said Beckham, a Griffin, Ga., native. “He was someone who left it out there every game. He played the game hard and that’s what you look for in leaders and that’s what you look for in guys that are going to be inducted in the Hall of Fame. I was always impressed and excited and thrilled to watch Chipper play.”
Beckham said as a kid, when playing baseball in his backyard, Jones was one of the players he’d pretend to be when he was at the plate.
“I grew up watching Chipper Jones,” Beckham said. “He’s one of the guys you would imitate playing in the backyard, you would say, ‘Oh, I’m Chipper Jones this at-bat.’ You’d turn around and try to switch hit. And the fact that he did it from both sides of the plate and played third base at the consistent level he did for so many years, it’s hella impressive. I think it’s well-deserved.
Former Orioles Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero will also be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Gentry’s rehab delayed
Outfielder Craig Gentry will begin a minor league rehab assignment at Low-A Delmarva on Monday as was originally planned, Showalter said.
Gentry, who has been in the disabled list with a rib injury since June 24, will receive additional tests to assure his injury has been completely resolved.
“Hopefully shorty thereafter, [he can begin],” Showalter said. “Just not quite there yet. Trying to be very diligent about that being healed before we go there.”
Lee removed from 40-man roster
The Orioles outrighted left-handed pitcher Chris Lee, who had just returned from a shoulder injury that kept him out for nearly two months, to Double-A Bowie, removing him from the organization’s 40-man roster after he cleared outright waivers.
Lee was activated from the minor league disabled list Friday after three one-inning rehabilitation outings in the Gulf Coast League, but didn’t make an appearance for Triple-A Norfolk.
Lee, 25, has spent most of the season on the DL. He suffered an oblique injury during spring training, opening the season on the minor league DL and wasn’t activated until May 4. He made just five appearances for the Tides. He posted a 10.46 ERA, allowing 23 hits and 10 walks in 11 innings.
The Orioles’ 40-man roster is now at 38.
Around the horn
Orioles utility man Steve Wilkerson is still scheduled to begin his minor league rehab assignment on Wednesday at High-A Frederick.