The Orioles will begin their 2013 season with their oldest position player batting last, their youngest one hitting second and their right fielder setting a little franchise history for his position.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter unveiled his Opening Day lineup for Tuesday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays during Monday’s workout — and it includes a few curious wrinkles.
The most interesting is that 20-year-old third baseman Manny Machado, who was at Double-A Bowie this time last year, will bat second against reigning American League Cy Young Award winner David Price.
Showalter said he felt Machado, a right-handed hitter, fit in the spot nicely against the lefty Price and that he has the bat-handling ability to hit second. Showalter also was sending “maybe a little bit” of a message to the phenom that he belongs in the bigs.
“Buck does everything for a reason. He has trust in me. He has faith,” Machado said. “And he is going to put the best nine guys out there and nine guys are going to help the team win. So that definitely boosts up my confidence coming into Opening Day, knowing that your manager and all of your teammates have faith in you. I’m just looking really forward to Opening Day.”
Showalter also decided to bat right fielder Nick Markakis leadoff Tuesday after Markakis hit .335 with a .390 on-base percentage in 54 games atop the order last season. Second baseman Brian Roberts, who was the club’s leadoff hitter on Opening Day from 2004 to 2011, will hit ninth Tuesday. It’s the first time the 35-year-old has hit ninth since July 31, 2004.
On Tuesday, Markakis will become the first player in the club’s modern day history to start seven Opening Days in right field, eclipsing Ken Singleton’s mark of six, from 1975-77 and 1979-81. The franchise’s greatest right fielder, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, started five in right field and one in left in his six seasons with the Orioles.
“I didn’t know that,” said Markakis, who also holds the club’s active streak of consecutive Opening Day starts at seven. “As a player, that’s something you want to do, be out there on Opening Day and every day. It’s an exciting day; Opening Day starts the season. It’s definitely a special thing and to do it all with the Orioles is even more special.”
Showalter decided to sit left-handed hitting Nate McLouth against Price, while having right-handers Nolan Reimold start in left field and Steve Pearce at designated hitter.
“We don’t see another left-handed starter for six, seven, eight days, depending on what they do,” Showalter said. “So do you want Steve Pearce to sit around on his [butt] for eight days, seven days? No.”
Showalter said he’s not worried about Reimold — who had neck surgery last year and was limited this spring by shoulder tightness — starting on the turf at Tropicana Field.
“Nolan is ready to go,” he said. “We would never have him active on the roster if he wasn’t.”