Orioles notes on Buck Showalter tying his mentor in wins, Chris Davis and more

September 15, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina and Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

Orioles manager Buck Showalter fidgeted in his chair, admitting he was uncomfortable about the possibility of tying his mentor, Billy Martin, on the all-time managerial wins list.

Monday night's 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays was the 1,253rd of Showalter's career, tying Martin for 36th place in baseball history.

Showalter said he didn't know he was drawing close to Martin, who managed the New York Yankees when Showalter was an up-and-coming minor league manager in the Yankees system, until his daughter, Allie, informed him recently.

“She knows what Billy meant to me, so from that standpoint I actually find it a little sad,” Showalter said. “It’s like one of those things — I’d like to give him a few [wins] so he can go back up there where he should be. I haven’t looked at it. I’m sure he did it in a lot less years.”

Showalter is in his 16th season as a major league manager, and Martin’s managerial career — which included five tumultuous stints with the Yankees — also lasted 16 seasons.

As a young manager working his way up the Yankees minor league system, Showalter learned several lessons from Martin. He still regularly quotes Martin regarding the importance of being grounded as a manager.

“He had time for me, and I still don’t know why,” Showalter said. “He made time for me. When you were with him those mornings, about 11 o’clock on the back fields in Fort Lauderdale. He would always bring all the minor league managers in. We’d walk behind him like little chickadees, and he’d stop at every drill and talk about this and talk about that, and this is how you need to do this, and this is why.

“People looked at Billy as some roughneck cartoon character who argued with umpires, but he was brilliant. He had such a feel for the game.”

Martin died in a car accident on Christmas Day 1989.

“The last year of his life, he was supposed to be scouting, in fact he was gearing up for another return,” Showalter said. “I was managing in Albany, and he was supposed to be scouting the Eastern League for the Yankees. He called me and asked me if I would just send him my reports on the Eastern League, that was good enough for him. That was pretty cool when I hung up. If you ask me about Billy, I can talk forever. But he wasn’t perfect.”

Showalter often has talked about managers who had an impact on him, including Martin and former Orioles skipper Johnny Oates, who was Showalter’s minor league manager and his predecessor with the Texas Rangers. But when asked about his place in the managerial ranks, he said a great deal of success is about having good players.

“It means I’m old,” he said. “It does. What else? It’s just the honor and longevity of people allowing you to do it. The players allowing you to do it. You don’t manage them. They allow you to manage them. And if you ever forget that, you’re in trouble. I’m a ship passing in the night. I know how this works.”

Showalter, who has also managed the Yankees, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Rangers, is 371-322 in parts of five seasons with the Orioles — his most wins and games with any club.

Showalter became the third Orioles manager to have multiple seasons of 90 or more wins, joining Earl Weaver and Hank Bauer.

Davis to report to Sarasota this weekend

Showalter said corner infielder Chris Davis, currently serving a 25-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamine use, likely will report to the team’s spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., between Friday and Monday.

Once he gets acclimated, he’ll play in instructional league games, which started Monday and will last until Oct. 7.

The earliest Davis could re-join the team would be Oct. 14 in the AL Championship Series.

Around the horn

Showalter said there was “nothing imminent” concerning the addition of another player from their camp in Sarasota. … Showalter has not announced his rotation for the series against the Boston Red Sox, the final three home games of the year. He’s considering give some starters, including Chris Tillman, an additional day of rest. … With his walk-off double Sunday, Kelly Johnson became the ninth different Orioles player to record a game-ending hit in their 10 walk-offs this season.

eencina@baltsun.com

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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