BALTIMORE -- Is pine tar cheating for pitchers?
Technically, it's against the rules. But given the reaction around Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda on Thursday night, when a shiny substance was spotted on his right hand in a game against the Red Sox, it doesn't seem to be much of an issue. Pineda responded by saying that it was only dirt. Red Sox manager John Farrell didn't take exception to it, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter shared the same opinion Friday afternoon.
"We're playing and it's 40 degrees, and I know there's a lot of hitters that hope they're using pine tar so they can grip the baseball," Showalter said. "They're not doing it necessarily to gain an advantage. They're doing it so they can grip the baseball. Try tonight. I'll give you a ball and let it sit in a bag for seven innings. I'm going to flip it to you and let you try to hold it when you're cold. So you've got to understand why it's happening."
"That's why you don't have as much of an issue as you get further into the season. When you go to Oakland and it's a night game and it's cold. So there are two sides to that. Do I want to call you on it and now you can't grip the baseball and now you're going to hit one of my guys in the coconut? I don't like that. Is it making the curveball tighter or the slider better? If you're a changeup pitcher, do you want your hands to be sticky? No, you don't. So there's a lot of variables to it. But everybody looks for some way to grip the baseball better because the way it is now, it's really hard. Why do hitters have pine tar and pitchers don't? It's legal, right?"
Machado to bat in sim game vs. Johan
BALTIMORE -- Manny Machado will have a pair of at-bats against Johan Santana in a simulated game today during extended spring camp.
Machado, who is rehabbing from left knee surgery, has not had an at-bat, so this is a step forward. The third baseman is still not cleared to run -- it's his last remaining step -- so he will remain stationary after each at-bat is done. Santana was already slated to throw batting practice today.
There's no timetable for Machado, who won a Gold Glove Award and was an All-Star in his first full season, but he would have to start running the bases and doing sprints before he can play in extended spring games. The 21-year-old would also likely need a rehab assignment after that.
The Orioles have also been encouraged with the progress of Santana -- a late spring signing -- and he could be an option for the club in June.
Hardy hopes to be back in O's lineup tonight
BALTIMORE -- Shortstop J.J. Hardy received an injection in his lower back during Thursday's off-day, and he was prescribed rest with the intent being that he'll be back in the Orioles' starting lineup tonight.
"The MRI turned out pretty good, so they injected it," manager Buck Showalter said of Hardy, who has missed six of the team's past seven games. "Usually there's a 24-hour period to let the medication do its work. Just thought it'd be prudent after talking to [orthopedic surgeon] Dr. [Michael] Jacobs and everybody to get the full effect. He is available to play tonight, and I would use him if I have to."
Hardy said he felt a lot better on Friday and had already taken some ground-ball practice before participating in pregame batting practice. Part of the reason the team is taking it slow with the shortstop is because it wants to make sure this isn't a lingering issue that will force Hardy out at another point.
"If I don't play today, I'd think that will be six games and then I can still play 156," Hardy said. "That's kind of my goal. And trying to rush it and hurting myself and missing another six games because I tried to come back too early is definitely something that I don't want to do."
"He knows the length of the season," Showalter said. "Very mature about it. He's dealt with this before, in a more serious nature than this one. He knows how important it is to take care of it completely so it's not an issue for the rest of the season. He knows how important it is to get this resolved, and we think with one more day, we should have it resolved completely."
Lough held out of lineup, but available to play
BALTIMORE -- David Lough was not in Friday's starting lineup, although manager Buck Showalter said the outfielder -- who was sent back to Baltimore on Tuesday night for concussion tests -- was available to him.
Lough would typically have gotten the start against a right-handed pitcher like Toronto's Dustin McGowan, but Showalter went with Nelson Cruz in left field instead.
"We just want to be on the safe side with it and see where we are," Showalter said of the situation with Lough, who passed the concussion tests and returned to the team on Wednesday. "I talked to David about it today. I feel like I've got an understanding of what's going on, and we'll take it day-by-day."
Lough said after Wednesday's game that he had been dealing with some of the same concussion-like symptoms he had this spring, and he finally alerted the team, which sent him back to get some tests. Lough passed a battery of concussion tests this spring before he was allowed back on the field, but given the uncertainty around head injuries, is there any concern or more tests planned?
"Not yet," Showalter said. "We feel like with the testing that they did -- and now we've seen a couple of people about the concussion symptoms -- we feel like we've got a pretty [good] consensus there, and David does, too. We'll see if there are any other challenges that present themselves with it."
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.