Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Orioles Struggling at Plate

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Orioles Struggling at Plate

Article excerpt

OFFENSE: Manager Buck Showalter not worried as players experiment

SARASOTA -- On the baseball field, don't expect Buck Showalter ever to feel comfortable.

"I would never use the word "comfortable" to describe anything about me, or us in general," the Baltimore manager said. "You're always wanting things to be perfect. You're striving for something that's impossible."

That stated, and with the knowledge that anything the Orioles do in spring training will be long forgotten once the season begins, Showalter's Orioles have been far from perfect.

Before another Ed Smith Stadium sellout crowd of 8,219, the O's fell on Saturday to the bottom of the Grapefruit League standings after a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

For the 3-10 O's, it was their fourth loss in a row, and once again, the culprit was a lack of offense. The team that led the majors in home runs last season had its seventh consecutive game of scoring three runs or fewer.

"With our guys, somebody's going to pay," Showalter said. "It's a pretty professional group. They know where the finish line is. There's a lot of guys tinkering and trying new things and figuring out a way to get better.

"That smoke will kind of clear somewhere around the 22nd, 25th and they'll start saying, 'OK, here's what I'm going with.' "

The Orioles, who came in hitting .229 as a team, were limited to four hits by six Tampa Bay pitchers. They went hitless through five innings before Rey Navarro's single led off the sixth. The Rays entered the game leading all AL clubs this spring training with a 2.25 team ERA.

Meanwhile, on one of the back fields behind Ed Smith, a lineup of Orioles played the Puerto Rico Development Program. Catcher Matt Wieters, coming off Tommy John surgery, was behind the plate. He's slated to make his spring training debut there Tuesday against the Twins.

"He threw (Saturday)," Showalter said before the game. …

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