Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Orioles Skipper Upbeat about '13

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Orioles Skipper Upbeat about '13

Article excerpt

SARASOTA

The pep isn't back in Buck Showalter's step. Not yet, anyway. Baltimore's 56-year-old manager is undergoing therapy for partial knee replacement surgery.

Can't fault Buck's priorities. He's rehabbing the knee, but only after having played a major role in rehabbing the Orioles.

Why wait? Give Showalter the AL Manager of the Year Award right now. He'll get competition from Oakland's Bob Melvin, but these are the O's, remember?

The last time they won, Francis Scott Key was a season-ticket holder.

By the dawn's early light -- or any light, for that matter -- the 2012 Baltimore Orioles were a revelation, finishing 93-69 after a 69- 93 2011. They made the playoffs and pushed the Yankees to a fifth game in the ALDS.

"If you remember in spring training,'' Showalter said, "the only thing I said was that if we get deeper in the game with our starting pitching, we'll have some fun this summer. And that's something that we did.

"I understand how people looked at it, but there was a great feel to the organization in the spring. There was a great morale that I could feel building, that everybody knew we had raised the bar.''

They raised it so high, noses bled. Through July, the O's were an unspectacular 55-49. Then, an 18-9 August, followed by a 19-9 September, put them in the postseason for the first time in 15 years.

Baseball pundits still are shaking their heads. Aside from hitting more than 200 home runs, Orioles' batters finished 15th in the majors in runs and 20th in average.

Their pitchers were 14th in ERA and 21st in quality starts -- injuries and ineffectiveness forced Showalter to use 12 different starters.

Where the Orioles compensated were in one-run games and extra innings. Baltimore was 27-9 in the former, 16-2 in the latter, prompting critics to use the "L'' word in describing its success.

"It's like someone said that we were very lucky last year, and I would agree with that,'' Showalter said. …

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