The Orioles lose to the Tigers, 6-5. (Jon Meoli, Baltimore Sun video)
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that two-plus years without a stretch like this for reliever Mychal Givens is the main reason the team isn't concerned with his slow start to this season.
After two scoreless outings to open the season, Givens has allowed an earned run in four of six since, including a run on a hit, a walk, and a wild pitch in Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
"I've got to tell you, there's such a fine line between empathy and sympathy for us," Showalter said. "Pitching, hitting, defense — it's a challenge with the weather. Mike, I think he's built up a lot of cachet and track record. I think we'll like where he is when it's all said and done. It's just not there for him right now. I don't think he's quite got the feel command-wise that he's going to have or have in the past. What do you do? Not pitch him? We know what he's capable of, and you keep getting him out there. He'll figure it out."
Givens has had his bright spots, including two stellar shutout innings punctuated by a great play at the plate in the extra-inning win over the New York Yankees on April 6. But he has a 6.52 ERA after Tuesday's appearance. His fastball is still averaging over 95 mph, so there's no concern on that front, but he's found it difficult to command his pitches in these environs.
"Mychal will figure it out," Showalter said. "I've got a lot of confidence in him. He's healthy, he's throwing the ball as firmly. You see a lot of velocities down in baseball in general. ... Mike's not. It's just the feel for the breaking ball isn't there yet."
Showalter longs for Trumbo’s return
Though he wouldn't elaborate on the plan to get slugger Mark Trumbo (quadriceps strain) back onto the field in rehabilitation games, Showalter said he was reminded of what the 2016 major league home run king could bring during batting practice on the field Tuesday.
"I was watching him take BP yesterday," Showalter said. "It's pretty impressive. It's just a reminder of what he can do and what we're missing. [Head athletic trainer Brian Ebel] and I have thought on a best-case scenario when he can start things up again, but we'll see how things go on the homestand. It'll be nice to get him back."
Trumbo had a rehab stint at Double-A Bowie cut short April 10 after he didn't feel right in his first game back.
"I wouldn't put a date on it," Showalter said. "I know Brian and I have talked about how things are managing. There's one little spot, so to speak, that we're trying to get resolved. There's a pretty good history of guys that have tried to come back too quick from that deep quad, and I'm trying to let it heal all the way. We thought it had. The last little [thing] is kind of pushing and busting out of the batter's box, quick burst. He's not quite there yet."
Rasmus in Florida
Showalter said outfielder Colby Rasmus, who has been out with a hip injury since April 7, is now rehabbing in Sarasota, Fla., without much progress.
"Slow," Showalter said. "There was some thought about an injection, but looking at the history and the healing process that's going on there — that's an old surgery site — we feel like he's going to be OK without the injection."
Showalter said second baseman Jonathan Schoop (oblique) is improving, though the Orioles have to be cautious not to test it too hard and risk making it worse. "Schoop's managing well," Showalter said. "That's obviously a tough injury to decide, but we're hoping we don't get the long oblique recovery. We think we've got a chance for it not to be the month-and-half, month. It's less than that, we hope. He doesn't feel it. The symptoms aren't what they were, by any means. But it's still kind of an issue."