Buck Showalter was instrumental in building the expansion… (Mark J. Rebilas,USA TODAY…)
PHOENIX — Orioles manager Buck Showalter often shuns the spotlight, so when the Arizona Diamondbacks showed a video tribute to Showalter — who was their first manager and played a large role in the expansion club’s growth — he hesitated before tipping his cap as fans applauded.
Monday was Showalter’s first game back in Arizona since his departure from the Diamondbacks after the 2000 season. Showalter was hired in two years before Arizona began play and managed the Diamondbacks for three seasons.
“If someone called me and said, ‘Hey we’re starting another expansion club. Would you like to be a part of that and do what you did there?’ I’d be like, ‘Uh, you should pass that on to another guy.’ It was a challenge, but a good one though,” he said before the game. “It was a great experience. It made you appreciate a lot of facets in an organization and in baseball.”
Showalter’s current staff has several ties to the Diamondbacks. Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley was on Showalter’s Arizona staff, third-base coach Bobby Dickerson worked with minor leaguers and clubhouse manager Chris Guth also worked under Showalter in Arizona.
Showalter reminisced about the early days of the franchise, which included choosing the name Diamondbacks over the Scorpions, various trips across the globe scouting for talent and preparing for the expansion draft.
“I remember I was walking around the field today checking out some things, and I remember sitting up in the stands when I got back from Korea or Japan,” Showalter said. “We would always come back and see the updates and what they had done to the ballpark. It’s a beautiful place.”
Still, Showalter still managed to turn the focus to his current job as Orioles manager.
“’I’ve said it many times, this is my last stop,” Showalter said. “This is my last rodeo. I love what everything represents in Baltimore. Good, solid, blue collar. They love the Orioles. Great tradition. We’re just trying to make them proud of us. We know there’s going to be a lot of people are going to be late to work tomorrow because they stay up late to watch our games. Our guys are a reflection of our city.”
Right-hander Jason Hammel said he still doesn’t know when he will resume throwing, but the cortisone injection he received Friday has helped relieve the tightness in his right forearm .
“It’s definitely improving,” Hammel said. “I’m actually very happy with how it feels right now.”
Hammel, who had never received an injection in his arm, said the tightness is only “very slight.” But the true test will come once he throws.
Hammel is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday, but he remains out indefinitely.
“I’m hoping that’s getting close,” Showalter said.
Around the horn
Asked about the team’s interest in bringing back Mark Reynolds — who was released by the Cleveland Indians on Monday — Showalter only said they he will likely have another conversation with executive vice president Dan Duquette now that Reynolds is officially available. The infielder had been designated for assignment by the Indians last week ... Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez, whom the Orioles signed to a reported $800,000 signing bonus last month, homered in his first professional at-bat Monday. Alvarez homered to left-center and then tripled to center in his second at-bat for the Gulf Coast League Orioles. He finished 2-for-3. ... Right-hander Bud Norris, who woke up with tightness on the lower right side of his back before his start Sunday, said he felt much better Monday, especially after a massage. “I don’t think it should be any problem,” Norris said. “I feel good.” … In his first minor-league rehabilitation game with High-A Frederick, Wilson Betemit went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts. … The Orioles entered Monday night with 89 errorless games, most in the majors and nine more than the next closest team. … Chris Davis’ 41 extra-base hits on the road heading into Monday are seventh-most in club history.