The Orioles welcomed Brooks Robinson, one of the most beloved players in franchise history, back to Camden Yards on Friday night. Robinson was on hand to honor Melvin Mora, who recently moved into second place on the franchise’s all-time games played at third base.
Mora, who has played in 796 games at third for the Orioles, would have to play 150 games for the next 14 seasons to catch the Hall-of-Famer. Robinson played in 2,870 games at third base for the Orioles, winning 16 Gold Gloves and playing in four World Series.
— Spencer Fordin
The Orioles played their 81st game on Saturday, a game that symbolized the official midpoint of the season. Several players thought that the team has played a decent brand of baseball thus far and lauded the rookies that have come up and made a difference.
“They’ve handled things pretty well so far, but there’s still a long way to go,” said third baseman Melvin Mora. “You’ve got to know that when you get to the second half, that’s when all the veteran players pick it up. You have to be consistent all the way to the end.”
Manager Dave Trembley said that his main disappointment has been that his team has given away some games, a mark of inexperience. But overall, he’s been pleased with Baltimore’s progress and said that he can see the markings of a bright future ahead.
“I think we’ve all seen the emergence of what a year has made the difference with [Adam] Jones and how much better he is,” said Trembley. “We’ve got [Matt] Wieters up here and [Nolan] Reimold, who didn’t make the club out of Spring Training.”
The Orioles had an interesting fielder’s choice on Wednesday night in which Melvin Mora intentionally let a popup drop in order to throw out a runner at second base. Manager Dave Trembley said he’d prefer his player to catch the ball, but gave Mora credit for creativity.
“I think you’re trying to trade a fast runner for a slower runner,” he said of the logic behind Mora’s quickly timed decision. “From that perspective, it’s a good move. But with as much rain as there was on this field the last few days, I don’t think the ball was going to go one side or the other. Give Melvin credit for knowing all the angles.”
The Orioles gave Melvin Mora a day off on Wednesday, but manager Dave Trembley was quick to note that it wasn’t because Mora aggravated his hamstring ailment. Instead, Trembley said that the Orioles just want to be careful with the veteran for the next few days.
“I just thought it would be best not to start him after missing all that time,” said Trembley. “And then, driving in today, I was reassured I made the right decision on that once it was raining. It’s hard to take him out because he played so well last night, but we have to look at the big picture and understand the guy missed an awful lot of time. I think we’d be really chancing it by bringing him back. He says he’s fine — it’s just my call.”
The Orioles are expected to place Melvin Mora on the disabled list Wednesday and recall Matt Albers to take his place. Mora, who has been slowed with a tight left hamstring that has bothered him since Spring Training, will have plenty of time to get back in playing shape.
Mora last played on Sunday and won’t be eligible for re-activation until April 28.
Albers, meanwhile, will return after being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk just three days ago. The right-hander’s addition will give the Orioles a 13-man pitching staff and will help cover for the team’s rotation, which has struggled to get through the sixth inning on a regular basis.
Melvin Mora gave the Orioles a big lead with one big swing Saturday night, when he crushed a first-inning pitch to left field for a grand slam. Baltimore’s first six batters all reached base against Tampa Bay starter Jeff Niemann, handing staff ace Jeremy Guthrie more than enough support. Guthrie, by contrast, retired the first six batters he faced.
The Orioles successfully returned their three players from World Baseball Classic rosters — Brian Roberts from Team USA and Melvin Mora and Cesar Izturis from Venezuela — on Tuesday, swelling their clubhouse and allowing them to return to business as usual.
Roberts reported to camp but then went home to fight off the vestiges of a cold, but all three wayward players are expected to play again as Orioles on Thursday. When asked if he had missed his teammates while he was gone, Mora got off a funny quip.
“Not really,” he said. “I don’t want to get up early in the morning and eat the fake eggs that they have here.”