ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—It’s audition time for the Orioles. It can’t be anything else. These are opportunities for players to be evaluated to see if they can help the Orioles next year and for years to come.
David Hess is getting a second chance to start now that Kevin Gausman is gone. In his first five starts, Hess had an ERA of 3.07, but in his next four, that ERA nearly doubled and soon he was back at Triple-A Norfolk.
Hess got another start Aug. 3 at Texas and allowed seven runs—five earned—in 3 1/3 innings of an 11-3 loss. Thursday night’s was better. Hess started strongly, gave up two runs in the sixth and left with a 3-3 tie.
After the Orioles took the lead on Renato Nunez’s 425-foot home run in the seventh, Cody Carroll allowed two runs in the seventh, and the Orioles lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4.
Carroll, obtained from the New York Yankees in exchange for Zach Britton, is getting his chance with so many openings in the bullpen.
“It’s a young guy finding his way, a couple steps forward, a step back,” manager Buck Showalter said of Carroll.
“He’ll learn from it. He’s got a good arm. I really like his competitiveness. …He’s a confident guy. He’ll learn from it. I expect him to be better the next time out. I try to keep in mind, and I think we all should, that these guys are making major league debuts and kind of seeing things for the first time. So, I try to keep that in mind. But they’re going to get a great opportunity here.”
Hess’ ERA is at 6.25. He’s made 11 starts and two relief appearances.
“About half have been good, and about half haven’t been that good,” Hess said.
“I think we’re just trying to sway that in the direction of being better. Getting an extended look, that does mean a ton to me, that the team has that belief in me. More than anything, I just want to go out and prove them right and show that I do belong here and just give the team a chance to win because at the end of the day, that’s really what matters more than anything.”
After Hess’ bad start against the Rangers, Showalter and pitching coach Roger McDowell leveled with him.
“A little bit of a challenge was issued, basically saying that, ‘hey, you’re better than this. Go out and kind of let that show,’ so tonight was a step in that direction, but still not where we want to be just yet,” Hess said.
For Showalter, balancing trying to win games with holding open auditions is difficult.
“I try to keep that in mind, but the competitive part of it from an organization and from a team standpoint, but like I said before, my goal here is to do what’s best for the Orioles every day and for our organization as we go forward,” Showalter said.
“And there will be some really good feelings about what could be and what’s going to be, and there will be some times where you know you’re going to go through some growing pains.”
Hall of Fame weekend for Manfra
The Orioles will induct longtime second baseman Brian Roberts into their Hall of Fame before Saturday night’s game. Veteran broadcaster Fred Manfra, who retired last season and now lives in Tampa, will receive the Herb Armstrong award for off-field personnel.
Manfra’s longtime partner, Joe Angel, will host a luncheon to honor him and Roberts on Friday. Angel and Manfra were longtime broadcaster partners.
“It’s comfortable,” Angel said about working with Manfra. “I think that’s why people responded to us the way they did. It was comfortable, and it was obvious on the air that we were comfortable with each other. It was never a competitive thing in the booth with Fred.
“He had a great voice. He was great to listen to. He’s a huge Orioles fan from his youngster days, a Baltimore guy. That gave me a little connection with Baltimore.”
Angel appreciated Manfra’s help in the booth.
“Even if I said something stupid, which happens once in a while, Fred would be there to add to it,” Angel said.
“Fred would be there to respond. I would do the same for him. If I made a mistake on the air, I could count on Fred to tap me on the shoulder and point something out without going on the air with it.”
Players’ weekend coming up
For the second straight year, Majord League Baseball will celebrate “Players Weekend.” In games from August 24-26, instead of just having their last name on their back, players can have a name of their choosing.
Perhaps the most inventive name belongs to rookie reliever Paul Fry. He’s using “Papa Frita,” which is french fries in Spanish. Fry said he thought about the name for a few days, and after considering “small,” or his Twitter handle, “Fry Guy,” decided to go with his instincts.