A few short months ago Steve Lombardozzi was considered important enough to net a top-flight starting pitcher in a trade. Then, a little after that, he was only good enough to net a veteran infielder who wasn’t going to make a big league roster (and who was subsequently released). Now he’s a waste of 25-man roster space: he was just optioned to Triple-A to make room for Manny Machado.
Jokes aside, it is somewhat surprising that it was Lombardozzi who got the boot. He hasn’t been tearing up the pea patch, but he has been considerably better than Ryan Flaherty in around the same number of plate appearances. And while Jonathan Schoop has been a bit better than Lombardozzi, it was Lombo who was getting more time at second base than Schoop, who had mostly been covering third.
Not a big difference one way or the other, of course. But it’s kinda odd to think how far Lombardozzi has fallen in terms of perception in the past year.
Some potentially bad news for the Orioles: first baseman Chris Davis exited Friday night’s game against the Royals with a strained left oblique, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports. The team will evaluate him further to determine the severity of the injury.
Davis looked uncomfortable swinging in the third inning against Royals starter Yordano Ventura. He exited after the bottom of the fourth. Ryan Flaherty moved from third base to first base, Jonathan Schoop moved from second base to third base, and Steve Lombardozzi entered the game to play second base.
Davis entered Friday’s action with a .772 OPS, two home runs, and 13 RBI. After 21 games last season, Davis had a 1.177 OPS with seven home runs and 22 RBI.
Good news for the Orioles, as Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that Manny Machado played in his first extended spring training game this morning.
Machado, who underwent surgery in October to repair a medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee, played five innings at third base and received four at-bats. He’s scheduled to take the day off tomorrow, but will play seven innings at third base on Monday before serving as the designated hitter on Tuesday. Orioles manager Buck Showalter is hopeful that he’ll be able to begin an official minor league rehab assignment at some point next week, setting up a potential return in early May.
Machado, 21, owns a .279/.309/.435 over his first 207 games in the majors. He won a Gold Glove last season for his exemplary defense at third base. The Orioles have relied on a combination of Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty, and Steve Lombardozzi at the hot corner so far this year. It goes without saying, but he’s a big upgrade. And we likely haven’t seen the best of him yet from an offensive perspective.
There’s no clear timetable for Manny Machado to rejoin the Orioles, but he’s about to take a step forward in his rehab from knee surgery.
According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, Machado will take two at-bats today in a simulated game against rehabbing left-hander Johan Santana. These will be his first at-bats in a competitive setting since he had the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee repaired in October.
While this qualifies as progress, Machado hasn’t been cleared to run the bases. That will be the biggest step of all. Once that happens, the Orioles can think about sending him on a minor league rehab assignment. That still sounds a little ways off, though.
The Orioles have used Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty, and Steve Lombardozzi at third base so far this season. They are hitting .189/.189/.324 as a group.
Finally a dose of positive news for the Nationals.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, right-hander Doug Fister played catch Sunday for the first time since suffering a lat strain on March 27.
“No pain,” reported pitching coach Steve McCatty.
Fister is basically starting over after being interrupted in Nationals camp this spring by both the lat strain and elbow inflammation, so he will need at least a month to get himself prepared for major league action. That points to an early-to-mid May return.
The 30-year-old right-hander was traded to the Nationals this winter from the Tigers in exchange for utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi and left-handed pitchers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray.
Fister posted a 3.67 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 208 2/3 innings last season for Detroit.