Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter, the Prophet


Mar 14, 2015; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) watches batting practice before the start of the spring training baseball game agaisnt the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Over the years of Buck Showalter managing the Baltimore Orioles, there have been more than one or two players who have said that their manager seems to so often know what is going to happen before it happens. There is no doubt that he has a keen eye for the game of baseball. Having been around it for so long and seen so much, he is able to pick up on subtle trends that are either positive or negative and essentially have a premonition about what might well transpire next. And then it does!

Sometimes Buck even backs into a prophetic utterance. Before the Orioles’ opening game yesterday he was worrying about the weather and its effect upon game, particularly the starting pitcher. The worst-case scenario would be to play an inning and then have a 90-minute rain delay that knocks the starter out after throwing maybe only 15 pitches.

But it even caught my ear and unsettled me just a bit when, before the game, Showalter innocently said, “We want to try to at least start when there’s a window to get the starting pitcher. Of course, the other team might not let him get through the first inning anyway. That’s how it works.”

NO! Don’t say something like that. Four runs in the first inning off Bud Norris would follow, with eight runs charged over three innings. Final score, 12-5, and a rough day for the home opener.

But it gets worse. After the game the prophet said of the Blue Jays, “They’re as athletically talented as you’ll see in the major leagues. Quality arms, too. They’re going to have a lot of fun this summer.”

Oh man! Did not need to hear that! But, it really is no secret that the Jays are likely to be the team to have to beat in the AL East this year.

It is hard to believe that we find ourselves looking forward to Ubaldo Jimenez facing the Jays with his nasty stuff on Saturday. Hopefully he packed the command that he found in his final spring outings and has brought it along from Florida. Norris simply did not have command, and without that, most days are going to be difficult for any pitcher in the big leagues.

Is there reason to worry about Norris? I have to say that I do think so. Something has been clearly missing this entire spring. Of this subject Buck said, “Bud pitched well. You don’t win the games he’s won or done the things he’s done in the big leagues without handling some different situations along the way.”  Yes, 2014 was a great year, and there is reason to hope he will yet regain that form. Yet at the same time, last year was the only season in his career where the numbers and performance were in the top half of rotation starters. Remember that just a year ago it was very uncertain that Norris would even have a spot in the rotation.

How about some of the other Orioles players who are scuffling at bit here at the beginning? How about Manny Machado? Reason to worry?  I don’t think so. He has a couple of times in his career already had some slow starts before putting it together consistently.

How about Brad Brach with his 12.00 ERA at the moment? I think he will be fine. His velocity and movement seem sufficient to recover his 2014 form.

More from Baltimore Orioles

Wesley Wright? Again, we’ve seen little of him; and I never understood from the start why he was secured in the offseason. Late word is that there may be a developing shoulder condition. Fortunately the Orioles have options if that happens.

Delmon Young? He’s just 1-for-8 so far, and indeed he was a hole in the middle of the lineup on Friday. He will get his hits; he always does.

Ryan Flaherty? Actually his 1-for-10 with a homer and only 5 strikeouts is a hot streak for the beginning of season. But, no worries. He’ll pull up to the very low .200s for the season before long. Gosh.

The Orioles overall? They are fine. They will tighten up as they go, move some players in and out, and before long will be making the most of opportunities and winning consistently. I’m the prophet saying that.

Next: Early Takeaways on the Orioles