In his first at-bat Sunday, Valencia opened the second inning with a double off Rays starter Matt Moore. In his third at-bat, he hit a deep fly ball that Showalter said would have been a home run at Norfolk’s Harbor Park.
“He had some good swings off a tough left-hander,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s kind of the resume he brings, so hopefully we’ll see him again tomorrow and see how he does.”
Valencia was hitting .306/.339/.600 in 40 games at Triple-A Norfolk, including a .356/.375/.991 stretch with seven homers, 13 runs and 17 RBIs in his last 10 games.
“The streak that I was on down there was probably one of the better streaks I’ve ever had in my career,” Valencia said. “I felt good. I felt like any time they gave me a mistake to hit, I hit it pretty hard. It was a good feeling and hopefully it carries over.”
Valencia will be an option for the Orioles at third base, first base and the outfield – he recently played two games in the outfield (one in right and one in left) – but he will be primarily used as a right-handed designated hitter against left-handed pitching.
Valencia is .316/.359/.472 hitter against left-handed pitching in his major league career, and Showalter expects to see left-handed starters in two of the Orioles’ next three games, so Valencia should have his chances to impress early.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Valencia said. “Hopefully I can get off to a good start and help this team win. They’ve been doing well without me so just to contribute would be great.
Valencia said he was the beneficiary of a hot-hitting lineup in Norfolk that is averaging eight runs a game over its last eight games and is outscoring International League opponents 64-34 in that span.
“The whole lineup’s been doing well, so you can’t pitch around anyone in the lineup so everybody’s been getting pretty good pitches to hit and I was able to capitalize on a lot of the mistakes they’ve been giving me just like they’ve given everybody else,” Valencia said. “So it’s a credit to the offense. Everybody’s been doing well.”
“Everybody wants to do well and I was able to get off to a good start, just like many other guys did down there too,” he added. “Obviously, it’s the best situation when you feel you deserve a chance. I’ve been up other times when I wasn’t swinging the bat well and it’s definitely nice knowing you’re coming up and you’re swinging the bat well.”