For the third time in his career, and the first time since Sept. 2013, Manny Machado is batting leadoff for Saturday night’s game against Tampa Bay.
Coincidentally, both of his other leadoff appearances came against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Machado is the fourth leadoff hitter used by manager Buck Showalter this season.
Alejandro De Aza has been the most popular leadoff hitter, batting there 15 times, Everth Cabrera has hit in the top spot five times, and David Lough once.
De Aza, who is in a 3-for-29 slump, is not in the lineup. He’s 2-for-6 against Saturday’s starter, Chris Archer.
Showalter chose De Aza as his leadoff hitter not necessarily because he was convinced he was the best option, but because there are no other better ones.
De Aza has struck out 21 times and walked just three times for a .265 on-base percentage.
Machado, whose batting eye has improved this year, has walked nine times and struck out 17. His OBP is .326.
Since Nick Markakis left, Showalter has searched for an ideal leadoff hitter. Cabrera has walked just twice in 19 games.
Steve Pearce makes his second start at second base.