With the Orioles flailing at a near-franchise-worst pace this month, Orioles manager Buck Showalter did something Wednesday night that he only does a couple times a season, if at all.
He closed the clubhouse doors after an 8-4 loss, and held a brief team meeting, sternly rebuking his players for falling into a lackluster swoon that had produced just one win in their previous 11 games.
According to several sources, there weren’t any theatrics, just pointed words from the veteran skipper that made clear his mindset. One source said Showalter was probably a little more agitated in Wednesday’s meeting than in recent memory, but that’s primarily because this start has been so awful — the second worst 25-game stretch to begin a season in franchise history.
The gist of Showalter’s chewing out: “You are here for a reason. So play like it. No excuses. Play better. Because what has happened to start the season is unacceptable.”
The message, according to several sources, was not a surprise, nor was the tone or the timing, One player said the message was needed. Others simply said that Showalter didn’t provide anything earthshaking, just verbal confirmation of what the players were thinking.
Showalter, in his career, picks his spots to offer such dress-downs in front of a full group, preferring to talk to players one-on-one.
The manager dress-down is fairly rare in Major League Baseball these days partially because there are plenty of opportunities in today’s game to talk to players collectively in pregame meetings, and partially because the sense is too many rah-rah talks or pointed rebukes lose their effectiveness during a six-month season.
Showalter apparently chose Wednesday night after another bad loss as the right time to get things off his chest.
The Orioles lost the following game Thursday, 9-5 to the Rays to drop to 6-19 on the season. But the beleaguered offense collected 14 hits, tying its season high and eclipsing the Orioles’ season high for a nine-inning game.
They begin a three-game series Friday night against the Detroit Tigers (10-13), who swept the Orioles in Detroit last week.