ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who thinks a lot about everything, and cares a lot about everything, claimed he didn't care that the Red Sox didn't play stars Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury Monday night when they were playing the spoiler role against the Yankees.
There were reports the Orioles weren't thrilled with the Red Sox's grade-B lineup Monday. Showalter insisted he didn't care.
Just the same, Showalter seemed heartened Pedroia was going to give it a go Tuesday night, broken finger and all. Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy texted Pedroia, suggesting he play despite the broken finger. Showalter insisted Hardy did the texting on his own, not on orders from the manager, suggested Hardy wasn't serious, and further suggested Hardy had no effect on Pedroia.
"Pedroia doesn't need anybody to get him to play,'' Showalter said. "I love that guy.''
Perhaps he loved Pedroia, anyway, but one can imagine Showalter's love was a bit deeper seeing that Pedroia was set to suit up and play spoiler despite the broken digit.
Again, Showalter said he didn't care, one way or the other. But he cared enough to recall that Ellsbury missed a game against them, and to suggest to writers before Tuesday's games that Red Sox starter Jon Lester gives the Red Sox their best hope to beat the Yankees, who the Orioles need beaten at least once in two nights now to force a playoff for the division title.
Showalter was obviously pleased to see Lester pitching for Boston, but insisted he didn't care how Boston approaches its series against their rival Yankees. "It's not an issue for me at all,'' Showalter said. "We've got to figure out a way to beat this [Rays] club.''
Oh yes, as for that, Showalter wondered aloud if maybe the Rays might take it easy on his Orioles the next two nights. You know, to pay the Orioles back for knocking out the Red Sox last year. Showalter decided that wasn't happening, and that it didn't matter much because the Rays are tough no matter who plays.
"I don't expect anything else,'' Showalter said.
Showalter received a congratulatory bottle of wine from thoughtful Rays manager Joe Maddon for making the playoffs (Maddon, a wine expert, called it a "nice'' bottle of red). Nice, but Showalter determined he'd be getting no more gifts from the Rays.
Showalter had the wine on his text, but he spared any whine over what was going on in New York.