05/03/2013 10:25 PM ET
Garcia eager to make most of opportunity with O's
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Freddy Garcia has heard the doubters and the 36-year-old right-hander, who will make his first Major League start this season for the Orioles on Saturday, isn't fazed by those who think his career is over.
"They always say that about you," said Garcia, who signed a Minor League deal with Baltimore after he was released by the San Diego Padres this spring. "I really don't care because I always put up numbers, and that's all you can really do is keep putting up numbers. … I really don't care what people say. I just go out there and do my job."
Garcia, who recently had the opt-out clause in his contract extended another two weeks, has been waiting for the chance to do so for Baltimore. After posting solid numbers at Triple-A Norfolk and earning International League Player of the Week honors, Garcia will be tabbed to help add some stability to an inconsistent rotation.
With the recent demotions of Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton -- whose turn Garcia is taking -- and some lackluster outings by their current starters, the Orioles had to lean heavily on their bullpen in the season's first month and have an opening in their rotation.
"Hopefully it's me [who takes advantage of the opportunity]," Garcia said. "And hopefully I pitch the way I know I can pitch and I can help the team win games and throw innings.
"I was working really hard [in Norfolk]. I told myself, 'You're there. You have to keep your mind there.' There's no dreaming about stuff. It's not easy when you play in the big leagues for so long and now you're a regular Triple-A guy. You're doing the same stuff they do, wherever they eat, whatever hotel they stay in, the long bus rides, all kind of stuff. You cannot take it for granted. You have to keep working hard and make it happen."
Garcia's chance in the rotation comes in a very favorable spot, as he owns a career 16-3 mark with a 2.66 ERA in 28 games against the Angels, including an 8-1 record with a 3.18 ERA in 16 starts in Anaheim.
"That's part of it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the decision to promote Garcia. "And he's pitched pretty well [for Norfolk]. This is not a guy that was a failed starter in the big leagues. I'll tell you another thing: Everybody early in the season carries better stuff than they do later on. So, he's pretty fresh right now."
Machado settling in, finds timing at the plate
ANAHEIM -- For Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, his recent offensive performance has been all about calming down, simplifying things at the plate and trusting in his abilities.
"There's such a thing as over-coach or manage early on," manager Buck Showalter said. "I just tried to leave him alone and just let him seek his level. I said a few things here and there. But it's like those hitting coaches who say, I want to be the hitting coach for [Don] Mattingly. Or I want to be the hitting coach for [Nick] Markakis. Really? You can come out real smart there.
"Manny's clock is in a good place. Not just defensively either. I think the game has slowed down for him a bit."
Machado agrees. The 20-year-old infielder, promoted from Double-A in August because of the organization's faith in his defense, has turned heads recently with his bat. Entering Friday, Machado has hit safely in 18 of 22 games while batting .355 (33-for-93) with 11 multi-hit games, 11 doubles, three triples, three homers and 17 RBIs. Over that span, he has raised his season average from .200 to .317 and also owns a team-high 11-game hitting streak.
Machado, who will be 21 in July, is the only Orioles player under 21 to have a hitting streak as long as 11 games, and he tallied his 34th extra-base hit on Wednesday in his 79th career game. What does that all mean?
Since 1916, seven players have collected at least 34 extra-base hits at that young of an age: Vada Pinson (40), Willie Mays (37), Orlando Cepeda (37), Miguel Cabrera (36), Tony Conigliaro (35), Hank Aaron (34) and Machado.
• Outfielder Nolan Reimold made his first start this season at leadoff on Friday night.
• Tsuyoshi Wada (Tommy John surgery) will throw five innings in extended spring on Saturday, which could be his final outing before a Minor League rehab assignment.
• Brian Roberts (hamstring strain) continues to progress in baseball activities, running on Friday and throwing from 90 feet -- up from 75 -- although there's no timetable for his return.
• The O's improved to 5-0 on Thursdays this season, with Sunday (0-4) the only day of the week they have yet to record a win.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.