Before today’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Orioles manager Buck Showalter got on top of his pregame soapbox and talked about how most barehanded plays don’t need to be made. He reminisced about his days as an analyst at ESPN and about how he thought the network too often fell in love with a barehanded play that was more style than substance.
But third baseman Manny Machado’s ninth-inning barehanded throwout of Desmond Jennings in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Tampa Bay wasn’t one of those plays.
On the play, the 20-year-old Machado charged Jennings’ ball, barehanded it and adjusted his grip just before making the throw to first, a play that looked even more remarkable on slow-motion replay.
“That play last night I don’t think is made without a bare hand,” Showalter said. “It’s one of the few barehand plays that he probably couldn’t have made the other way. I think sometimes guys barehand too much. I really do, also because they know it’s going to be a base hit instead of an error.”
Asked whether making a play like that is more about being taught or instinctual, Showalter said it’s a little of both.
“The last play of infield all spring training is a slow roller that you only barehand as a last resort,” Showalter said. "We’ve talked to Chris [Davis] about not doing it too much. Sometimes your hands are so good that you’re always trying to do that and it’s such a risky play. I just don’t like it on a semi-routine ball where you could have gloved it and made the transfer. You very seldom see J.J. [Hardy] bare hand a ball. You show me 10 barehand plays and I’ll show you five or six [where the player] really didn’t have to do it.”
Here are tonight’s starting lineups:
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