5/31/2014 4:19 P.M. ET
Machado working on timing at the plate
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Manny Machado entered Saturday's game against the Astros in a 1-for-18 slump, and while he wasn't alone in his struggles on the Orioles, the third baseman said it's been a work in progress to get his timing back following offseason knee surgery.
Machado went 2-for-4 with a pair of infield singles in Baltimore's 4-1 victory over Houston. He raised his average since he joined the O's on May 1 from .210 to .220.
"It's not mental," said Machado before the game. "I've got to keep looking for pitches I need to drive, pitches I can hit. Don't chase pitchers' pitches. That's what I'm doing right now. I'm going out and there and chasing pitches, instead of going back to my same approach and getting my base hits."
Manager Buck Showalter moved Machado down to seventh in the batting order earlier in the week, trying to take advantage of outfielder Steve Pearce's recent hot streak by moving him into the two-hole.
Machado said Saturday he agreed with the move.
"Definitely. I'm not producing up there in the lineup," Machado said. "Might as well put me lower in the lineup, let me catch my breath and get it going again. It's just a matter of keep fighting. We're about to get hot. We're struggling as a team right now. It's obvious. We've just got to keep grinding. The pitching staff is doing well. We've just got to put one and one together and get some wins."
Machado, who won the American League Platinum Glove award last year, has committed six errors and could still be dealing with the effects of not having a Spring Training. But neither he nor Showalter used that as an excuse.
"We're just trying to be patient for [Machado] to work his way back into it, but that's a challenge. You try not to break his ... He gets frustrated," Showalter said. "He hides it pretty well. He's the same body language, the same everything that he was last year, just not getting the return. And it's frustrating for him."
Hunter set for 'pen session, could return next week
HOUSTON -- Tommy Hunter will throw his first bullpen session on Sunday at Double-A Bowie's stadium as he continues to progress favorably in his recovery from a left groin strain.
Manager Buck Showalter said Hunter would probably need two rehab games and he "has a shot" at being activated off the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, which is the first day he's eligible to be activated.
"It'll be good to get him back," Showalter said. "I think Tommy's going to come back and really help us."
Hunter has said the injury didn't hamper him while throwing, so it's not an excuse for his struggles on the mound so far this season. He converted 11 of his first 12 save opportunities, but blew his last two before hitting the DL. Hunter has allowed 11 earned runs on 25 hits, five walks and a hit batsman over 16 1/3 innings.
• Catcher Matt Wieters felt good Saturday after he tested his elbow for the first time in three weeks with 25 throws on Friday.
• Right-handed pitcher Luis Ayala opted out of his contract on Saturday, leaving Double-A Bowie.
• Outfielder Nolan Reimold (neck) continues to play in extended spring games, and Showalter said Orioles vice president Brady Anderson spoke with Reimold on Friday night.
"Said it's the best he's felt in a long, long time," Showalter said. "Really encouraging."
• The Orioles will adjust their starting rotation following Monday's off-day, factoring in how Chris Tillman feels after Saturday's outing.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.