Lefty reliever Mark Hendrickson was one of a few bright spots in Friday’s loss, giving the Orioles three scoreless innings of middle relief. Hendrickson entered after starter Kevin Millwood and collected the final out of the sixth before going on to strike out the next four Rays in a row.
The 36-year-old Hendrickson has turned in scoreless outings in eight of nine appearances under manager Buck Showalter and it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“When you’re with him, you understand exactly why people have wanted him around and what he allows you to do as a manager as far as versatility,” Showalter said of Hendrickson, who has been used a starter and reliever this season.
“There’s a reason they call him “smooth.” He understands it. He understands what he’s here for and how he can stay in the Major Leagues. He’s mature. Sometimes, I wish some of our young pitchers would listen to him even more than they do. He carries a voice of wisdom here.”
Hendrickson is a free agent at the end of the season if the Orioles don’t pick up his option, and the organization will have a tough decision. Sure, his spot could be filled by a younger arm with an eye on the future, but how much does Hendrickson’s veteran presence and consistency factor in? You know what you are going to get with Hendrickson and the Os young arms have all spoken highly of what he’s done for them.
Jason Berken in particular credited Hendrickson for helping him make the transition from a starter to the ‘pen this season.