Rash of errors at third base do not concern Showalter

(Joy R. Absalon / USA Today…)
September 26, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

TORONTO -- Even though Orioles third basemen entered the final regular-season series having committed five errors over the past seven games, manager Buck Showalter isn't concerned about the position heading into the postseason.

Defense has been one of the keys to the Orioles' success over the past three seasons. But since they lost American League Platinum Glove winner Manny Machado for the season following right-knee surgery in August, the club has struggled to find a steady replacement.

Ryan Flaherty, Jimmy Paredes and Kelly Johnson have shared duties at third since Chris Davis was suspended for his failed drug test. Both Flaherty and Paredes have committed two errors over the past seven games and Johnson has committed one. Johnson also committed an error playing second base in the Orioles' three-error, 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees' on Thursday night.

Jonathan Schoop played third base early this season while Machado was recovering from left knee surgery, but has mostly played second base since.

"Obviously, we know Ryan and Jonathan are going to be on there," Showalter said. "We just want to see what our 'what ifs?' are in case we have to do something at the end of the game, what we can do and not do"

The Orioles could be getting another option, too. Veteran infielder Alexi Casilla, who played for the Orioles last season and was in Triple-A Norfolk this year, is expected to join the big-league club this weekend.

Casilla would likely have joined the club when rosters expanded on Sept. 1, but he was nursing a hamstring injury. He's been in Arizona rehabbing and has been doing baseball activities for the past week.

Casilla was scheduled to be on his way to join the team in Toronto late Friday night. If he arrives in time for Saturday's 4 p.m. game, he's scheduled to play both Saturday and Sunday. Casilla can play second, shortstop and third and could fill a postseason utility spot.

Playing in front of large crowds on the road for Derek Jeter's final series at Yankee Stadium, Showalter said he saw this week's trip to New York as a sort of tryout for some players — Johnson and Paredes among them — for the postseason roster.

"We have done that in New York," Showalter said. "Obviously the atmosphere won't be the same here [in Toronto], but what would be? They're not retiring Derek Jeter. It's been a very good evaluation tool the last three days. … But we didn't have to win those games, too.

"And someone who might not have performed well during that game or that play, it doesn't mean they're not going to in the playoffs," Showalter continued. "You know very well that the postseason has a way of making strange heroes. Guys that have performed so well in the regular season can also go the other way. It's such a snowball time of the year so the mentality you have going in [is important], and I like where we are."

Wieters putting on his scouting cap

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who played just 26 games before Tommy John surgery ended his season, is slated to accompany major league scout Bruce Kison to Detroit to help him scout the Tigers' final two games of the season.

Heading into Friday with a two-game lead over the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central, the Tigers are the Orioles' likely opponent in the ALDS.

Wieters has been with the club for most of the second half rehabbing from June Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Even though he can't play, there are few who know the Orioles pitchers better than Wieters. He's helped the pitching staff and catchers in meetings, so it was natural to let Wieters join Kison.

Joseph misses out on history

Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph just missed out on grabbing a piece of history.

The ball from Jeter's game-winning hit in his final home game on Thursday night skipped past Joseph as pinch runner Antoan Richardson slid home with the winning run.

While the attention turned to the celebration around Jeter between first and second base, a Yankees batboy retrieved the historic ball before Joseph could.

"Rookie mistake," Joseph joked.

Around the horn:

Showalter's starting lineup in Friday's series opener in Toronto was absent of several regulars, but he said he intends to get them some playing time during the three-game series here. He plans to avoid playing them for all three games on the Rogers Centre artificial turf. … Right fielder Nick Markakis batted third on Friday for the first time since the first game of a doubleheader against the Pirates on May 1. He had led off 128 straight games since. It marked the seventh time this season — out of 154 games — that Markakis did not lead off. … The Orioles lost Thursday's game against the Yankees despite hitting four home runs, the first time they lost a four-homer game since June 25, 2011 against the Reds. They then won 19 straight games in which they hit four homers until Thursday. … Thursday's loss was also just their third in their last 46 games in which they've scored four or more runs.

eencina@baltsun.com

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