BALTIMORE -- Since selecting Richie Martin from the A's with the first pick in December’s Rule 5 Draft, the Orioles have made it clear they’d give him every opportunity to stick as their starting shortstop. Now, some five weeks into his rookie season, Martin remains very much in the Orioles'
BALTIMORE -- Since selecting Richie Martin from the A's with the first pick in December’s Rule 5 Draft, the Orioles have made it clear they’d give him every opportunity to stick as their starting shortstop. Now, some five weeks into his rookie season, Martin remains very much in the Orioles' long-term plans.
But as his bat has been slow to adjust to big league pitching, the club continues to seek ways to make his jump from Double-A Midland as smooth as possible. That goal led manager Brandon Hyde to hold Martin out of Saturday’s lineup against the Rays for the third consecutive game, and for the seventh time in nine contests opposite a right-handed starter.
“This is more just me wanting to try to let him have success and find the right matchups for him,” Hyde said.
The Rays were scheduled to open with righty Ryne Stanek, but the threat of inclement weather adjusted those plans. Right-hander Yonny Chirinos, who was slated to follow Stanek, instead opposed an Orioles lineup that featured Jonathan Villar at shortstop and Hanser Alberto at second and minus Martin, who is not injured and remained available off the bench.
“I’m just here to do my job,” Martin said. “I’m good, I’m good to go. … It’s not up to me. I just do what I’m told.”
While the club has been pleased with his play defensively, success at the plate has been tougher to come by for Martin, who bypassed Triple-A after a breakout season at Double-A offensively.
The 24-year-old is hitting .183/.266/.268 with four extra-base hits over his first 79 big league plate appearances, and just .167/.239/.262 against right-handed pitching. Martin has started all 12 of the Orioles' games against left-handed starters thus far.
“I would say I was comfortable since day one,” he said. “I’ve got to credit that to the coaching staff and a lot of the vets and just being around this environment, because there’s nothing really where you just come in and just go, ‘Oh man,’ and are overwhelmed with stuff. Everyone kind of helps you ease in and just feel comfortable with what you’re doing.”
Alberto’s hot start gives the Orioles added incentive to give him regular playing time, with the utilityman emerging as a lineup fixture in the early going. Alberto entered play Saturday hitting .316 in 24 games and has spent time at five positions. Alberto hit just .192 over his first 89 big league games, all with Texas from 2015-18.
“He hit in the Minor Leagues and just hasn’t had a chance like a lot of our guys with everyday at-bats, and now he’s getting an opportunity to play quite a bit,” Hyde said. “He’s making the most of it. He continues to swing the bat well and take good at-bats.”
From the trainer's room
Unable to shake the right forearm soreness that halted his season after four appearances, right-hander Nate Karns will seek a second opinion Monday that the club hopes will shed more light on its cause. Karns has had two rehab assignments cut short due to lingering discomfort, most recently a one-inning stint at Double-A Bowie on April 25. The veteran righty was originally placed on the injured list April 9 with arm fatigue, after his fastball velocity dipped into the upper 80s. Karns missed the entire 2018 season with elbow inflammation and was limited to nine appearances in 2017 due to thoracic outlet syndrome.
Yet to pitch this year due to a lower back strain, right-handed prospect Cody Carroll will resume throwing on Monday at the Orioles’ complex in Sarasota, Fla. The club’s No. 21 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Carroll enjoyed a terrific first spring with the organization before getting injured in late March. Carroll was pegged to begin the year at Triple-A Norfolk, where he made five appearances last season after coming over from New York in the Zack Britton deal. The 26-year-old pitched in 15 big league games with Baltimore as a rookie, posting a 9.00 ERA.
Orioles in the community
As part of their weekend slate of community events tailored around Major League Baseball’s Play Ball initiative, the Orioles conducted a clinic for more than 300 youth baseball and softball players at Roosevelt Park on Saturday. Mychal Givens, Martin, bullpen coach John Wasdin and club alumni Al Bumbry and Rick Krivda headlined the event, meant to promote discipline, leadership and other team-oriented values that can be achieved through sport.
“Anything having to do with youth sports is always a big yes for me,” said Givens, whose charitable foundation routinely hosts similar functions in his native Tampa, Fla. “I think they got a lot out of it. To see the enjoyment and to see the smiles on their faces is a big part of it.”
Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.