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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Orioles always looking on the bright side

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NEW YORK -- The Orioles are going to be just fine, and please remember you heard it here first.

Manager Buck Showalter has my back on this one. When someone mentioned that the glass might be half-empty, he smiled.

"We've got good things happening all over," Showalter said.

He happily ran down the list. Third baseman Manny Machado, one of the 10 best players in baseball, will return to the lineup at some point as he recovers from left knee surgery.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy (back spasms) could be back in the lineup in a few days. And then there's free-agent signee Johan Santana.

Santana's getting his left shoulder into shape, and the Orioles are absolutely convinced he'll make a significant impact on the rotation this season.

The Orioles also have one of the best pitching prospects in the game in Kevin Gausman, and he, too, could be a future option.

Wait, there's more.

Chris Tillman has picked up where he left off last season, methodically elevating himself to top-of-the-rotation starter status across the game.

Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez has thrown the ball better than his numbers indicate, and new closer Tommy Hunter is going to be fine as Jim Johnson's replacement.

Beyond all those things is something else, something perhaps only Showalter and his players understand completely.

The Orioles are good, really good. That is, they're good enough to hang with every other team in the American League East.

One thing they've proven these past two years is that they've got a manager who gets as much out of his team as anyone and a clubhouse with a tough, smart and productive leadership.

If Showalter can look past a 3-5 start and remain optimistic, it may be because he has been through a little bit of everything with Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and others.

He knows them both as men and as competitors, and he believes in them. Whether they're better than the Red Sox or Rays is an issue that'll be settled in the months ahead.

But as far as competing, as far as making it another great baseball summer in Charm City, the Orioles have more than enough to do just that.

Just to prove that start meant pretty much nothing, the Orioles banged out 20 hits Tuesday on their way to a 14-5 victory over the Yankees.

"Yeah, we needed that," first baseman Chris Davis said. "That's the great thing about this game. You get a chance to go out there and do it every day."

The Orioles were such a feel-good story two years ago, making the postseason for the first time since 1996.

The core of players that led the Orioles then is the same one being counted on to lead them now. There's a bond that seems capable of getting the club through good times and bad.

"It's easy to trust these guys," Showalter said. "I think we trust each other. We'll take our chances. In the clubhouse, we don't look at it as a tough start. I think maybe they've raised the bar, and that's the whole idea. These are expectations they've created by being good at what they do. So they understand that. They feed off each other. It's a good group of people that are easy to trust. That never really crossed my mind. Trust me."

Still, a 2-6 start would have tested them in ways they didn't want to be tested. That said, they seem to thrive on the idea that people were already writing them off.

"It's not about breaking out," said Jones, who had one of the Orioles' three homers on Tuesday. Wieters and Delmon Young had the other two.

"It's about continuously doing what we do," Jones said. "Some days you get 'em, some days you don't. Today, we got 'em. We've got to come out tomorrow with the same exact approach."

The Orioles have had just one quality start in their first eight games, but they were probably one hit away from winning three other times.

To Jones and others, it'll even out.

"We've been swinging the bat good, hitting balls right at people," he said. "You guys want results. I got it. It's about results. We look at things a little bit differently. All we ask out of everybody is to have a good at-bat and go up there and compete. We know you're not guaranteed to get a hit. But you can go up there with a good approach. The first eight games of the season, everybody has gone up there with a good approach. You've just got to go compete."

Bottom line?

"I've liked this team for a long time," Jones said. "I like how this clubhouse is every day. We're laughing. Enjoying ourselves. You're going to be battling each other and playing chess. Today, we were able to get to the queen quicker."

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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