Bonds! Clemens! Sosa! Biggio! Schilling! The CSN Insiders go deep on five Hall of Fame candidates

Bonds! Clemens! Sosa! Biggio! Schilling! The CSN Insiders go deep on five Hall of Fame candidates

We here at HBT have been doing drive-bys on all of the Hall of Fame candidates for some time, but on the eve of the Hall of Fame results becoming public, the insiders at Comcast Sportsnet offer you five in-depth takes on five of the top Hall of Fame candidates in 2013: Andrew Baggarly of…

Britton feeling much better, looks to pitch this week

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Britton feeling much better, looks to pitch this week

BALTIMORE – Zach Britton had an MRI on his left ankle Monday, and no damage was found, and three days after injuring the ankle, he says he’s nearly ready to return. 

“I feel good today, walking a lot better. So, pretty much normal. I’m going to go out there and play catch. Just take it easy, baby steps. If it feels good playing catch, maybe I can progress to flat ground,” Britton said. 

He’d like to pitch on the homestand that concludes Sunday. 

“I think this week is a good timeline. It’s not going to be today, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be tomorrow or the next day,” Britton said.

Britton wasn’t available for comment after he injured the ankle on Saturday night, and looked a lot better than he did on Sunday when he used crutches and a soft boot.

“I feel a lot better. I think flexibility, range of motion is back. It’s just swollen. It’s got some bruising but as long as i can manage the pain. It think that’s going to be the biggest issue right now is does it hurt me doing baseball things? Covering first, fielding a bunt, or whatnot. Those are things that I’m going to have to test out. Whether it’s today, I’m not sure. I’m just going to go out there and play catch and see how it goes,” Britton said.

RELATED: WILL MACHADO MOVE TO SHORTSTOP WHILE HARDY IS OUT?

NOTES: Hunter Harvey, the Orioles No. 1 draft pick in 2013 who hasn’t pitched competitively since July 2014, underwent sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia. He’s expected to be out from four to six weeks. 

Manager Buck Showalter isn’t concerned about Harvey’s long absence from pitching. 

“I think if he pitches from June, July on and finishes up strong like we think he can, I think he’s OK. But you’d really like to see him get the ball every fifth day at some point there and kind of get some of that experience he needs to finish off some things,” Showalter said.

-Yovani Gallardo, who’s been on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder and rotator cuff tendinitis, is improving. 

“He’s doing good. I’m very optimistic on the return we’re going to get on some of the things he’s doing. He’s moving towards throwing before too long,” Showalter said.

-LHP Jeff Beliveau, who labrum surgery a year ago, has been assigned to Frederick. Beliveau, who pitched for the Cubs and Rays, has intrigued Showalter, and could pitch for the Orioles later this season. 

-INF/OF Jimmy Paredes is batting .318 in six rehab games for Bowie and Frederick. Paredes’ rehab stint for his left wrist injury ends on May 15.

MORE ORIOLES: HARDY WON'T PUT DATE ON EXPECTED RETURN

Will Machado move to shortstop while Hardy is out?

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Will Machado move to shortstop while Hardy is out?

BALTIMORE – Ryan Flaherty was in the original starting lineup at shortstop and Manny Machado at third base for Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees.

About 40 minutes after the lineup came out, Machado was listed as the shortstop and Flaherty at third base. 

Machado came to talk with manager Buck Showalter about the lineup change. 

“I talked to Manny in detail about it, got his feelings about it. This is the way we’re going to go tonight,” Showalter said. 

“Manny made the case he wants the Orioles to win. That’s all we talked about. What all this about [is] ‘if you want me to play third, I’ll play third. If you want me to play short, I’ll play short.’ He’s in.”

Last year, Machado started seven games at shortstop when J.J. Hardy was on the disabled list with a groin injury.

Flaherty and Paul Janish also played there. He played there twice when Hardy was out last month. 

Those were the first games Machado, who played shortstop exclusively until coming to the Orioles in Aug. 2012, had played there since. 

Flaherty subbed for Machado at third in late 2014, too.

Showalter said that Pedro Alvarez, who played there on Sunday after Hardy left the game, with an injury, is an option at third base.

“He’s played more third base than Manny has. There’s some options there. I’d like to keep them all open. I’d also like to keep from moving guys around a lot,” Showalter said. 

Flaherty, who was surprisingly sent down to Norfolk eight days ago when the Orioles wanted 13 pitchers, is happy to be back. 

“Every day up here is a good opportunity. Every time you have a chance to help the team in whatever way it is, then that’s a good opportunity,” Flaherty said. 

Flaherty hit .421 in five games with the Tides. 

Showalter is uncomfortable with a three-man bench, and the Orioles could add Janish after his wife delivers the couple’s third child this week. 

“We’d all rather get back to 12 [pitchers] and four on the bench. It’s been tough,” Showalter said. 

Ovechkin imposing his will on Penguins

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Ovechkin imposing his will on Penguins

Through the first three games of the much-anticipated second-round playoff series between the Capitals and Penguins, Sidney Crosby has been nearly invisible, while Alex Ovechkin has been a runaway freight train.

Playing head-to-head for most of the first three games, Crosby is still looking for his first point and is a minus-3. Ovechkin has one goal and two assists in the series, but it’s his physical play that has made the biggest impact. Through three games Ovechkin leads both teams with  21 hits and 35 shot attempts.  

“The great thing is that there’s one of them in this league and we’ve got him,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said of his 30-year-old captain. “He’s very physical, he’s a sniper, he’s quick. You talk about skill, power and determination; all those things, he’s got a lot of that. Last night he showed why he’s a force.’’

RELATED: HOW WILL LETANG'S SUSPENSION ALTER GAME 4 LANDSCAPE?

Ovechkin imposed his will on the Penguins in Game 3, with 18 shots attempts and nine hits. Six of those shots were blocked and five missed the net, but Capitals center Jay Beagle said Ovechkin’s impact might be felt later in the series, when all those bumps and bruises take their toll.  Ovechkin currently leads the NHL in playoff hits (49) and shots (43).

“He’s had a huge impact” Beagle said. “You see him finishing the body. No one wants to go back for a puck when you’ve got a guy like that coming full speed at you ready to finish his check.

“He had some big blocks in Game 1 and Game 2. There are a lot of things he’s doing great.”

Ovechkin finally scored his first goal of the series 8:02 into the third period of Monday night’s 3-2 loss when he snapped a rising wrist shot through a screen and off Matt Murray’s glove hand.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray said Ovechkin possesses one of the hardest shots he’s ever faced but said he should have caught Ovechkin’s shot Monday night.

"He's obviously got quite the shot," Murray said. "That goal he had, it was obviously a bomb, but I've got to save that, 10 times out of 10. It was from pretty far out. Obviously, he's got a good shot and I don't think we can let him just fire away like that or we're going to be in trouble."  

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who watched from the bench, said there’s not a lot of advice he can give the 21-year rookie goalie when it comes to facing Ovechkin.

“I think he knows he shoots pretty hard so I didn’t’ have to tell him that,” Fleury said. “He’s fine. He challenges the one-timer. (Ovechkin) will score sometimes. He’s one of the best scorers in the league. He’s got a good shot. You’ve got to do your best in front of him. If it goes in then screw it and keep going.”

MORE CAPITALS: KRIS LETANG SUSPENDED ONE GAME FOR GAME 3 HIT ON MARCUS JOHANSSON