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O’s Showalter as reluctant HR expert

When Orioles starting pitcher Tommy Hunter got shelled for five runs in four and one-third innings Sunday versus the Red Sox in a 17-inning marathon, manager Buck Showalter had little choice but to send the struggling righty to the minor leagues.

Cutting or demoting players isn’t something Showalter, a major league manager for 14 seasons, enjoys. But he goes in with a plan that could be helpful to all supervisors and human resources professionals, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The key is to appear confident and comfortable — even if you’re not.

“I make sure I get a good night’s sleep. I make sure I’m clean-shaven,” Showalter told Businessweek. “When they’re sitting across from me, I want them to know that I’ve got a clear head and that it was important to me to give them the time to explain what’s going on.”

The O’s skipper said he asks questions and gives players the opportunity to tell him what they think they did well and in what areas they need improvement.

He also said there’s always someone else in the room with him — a third party that can vouch for what was said in the meeting.

And If things turn ugly, Showalter is ready, too.

“I’ve had a bat within short reach,” he said.

The main takeaways: don’t waffle, encourage engagement and be honest. This is someone’s livelihood you’re talking about, after all.

Hunter, the pitcher who was sent to Triple A Monday, was back in Baltimore by Thursday after starting pitcher Jason Hammel couldn’t make his scheduled start against the Texas Rangers. But he won’t be the last player to be demoted or cut by Showalter, who is managing his second full year in Baltimore.

“I don’t ever want to be good at it,” Showalter said.

What he does want to be good at is managing the Birds to their first winning record since 1997.

With the Orioles sitting at 20-12 and tied for first place in the American League East, it’s so far, so good for the O’s de facto HR expert.