L.J. Hoes walked into the Orioles clubhouse on Wednesday glad to see his name in the starting lineup. He didn’t know that come gametime, he’d be playing for the opposing team.
Hoes, the Orioles’ No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America, was dealt to the Houston Astros Wednesday in a deal for right-handed starter Bud Norris. Hoes was sitting at his locker around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday when he took a glance at his Twitter timeline and saw a tweet saying he was being traded.
For Hoes, a Mitchellville native who grew up an Orioles fan, it was bittersweet. If Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s words after the trade were any indication, the club will miss Hoes as well.
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“If he’s as good a player as he is a person, they got a gem,” Showalter said.
Moments after he was dealt, Hoes spoke to the media about the trade, a new opportunity and switching clubhouses at Camden Yards.
On just being traded:
My mind’s just racing. I kind of got my dream come true the other day, getting to start for the hometown team. Now, getting traded and going to the opposite dugout and locker room, I’m going to be able to make another start tonight and play against the Orioles. It’s different. I never saw it coming but it’s part of the game, it’s part of life so I’ve just got to keep it moving.
Whether it has hit him yet:
It’s still all surreal. Talking to [Adam Jones] this morning, I was staying with him, and he was saying, ‘you could get traded. You never know.’ As the day went on and I got here, I went outside and did some work with Kirby. Came back in and saw Twitter, saw on MLB Network that I got traded. Now just kind of trying to make sure my family’s all situated, they’re all coming to the game tonight. It’s kind of a whirlwind but I’m enjoying it.
On whether it was weird finding out through Twitter:
Not really. That’s just how social media is nowadays with technology and stuff like that. As soon as something happens it’s out there on the Internet, out there in the world. It’s kind of the way society is now and it’s kind of a bad thing but it’s expected and we’ve got to move forward.
On the opportunity to contribute in Houston:
I’m definitely excited for the opportunity to start with Houston and hopefully I’ll be able to play a lot and help them build a future over there with a lot of young talent they have. With Altuve and now Cozart and Robbie Grossman and some of the young guys they have over there. So hopefully I can go over there and be able to contribute any way I can.
On how difficult it was to be traded away from his hometown team:
It’s rough because I have a great relationship with some of the guys, Jones, Machado and even J.J., I went fishing with him a couple times in spring training. You develop that relationship but you also have to understand that this is a business and the Orioles are in contention to make it to the playoffs and they feel like they have to add another arm to help them get there. So it’s something I understand and I wish those guys the best of luck. I think they have a tremendous team, tremendous guys over there and I hope they are able to make it back to the playoffs.
On switching clubhouses:
Yeah, I’m going to have to go down the hall, get ready for BP I guess, meet the coaches and stuff. Talk to some of the players, get familiar with some of their stuff, learn the signs and then strap it on at 7 o’clock and take on the Orioles. Definitely a lot going on right now, but hopefully I’ll have some time to slow it down and take everything in and play baseball.
On leaving hometown team:
Now that Houston is in the American League I’ll be able to come here once a year and they’ll still be coming there once a year so I’ll be able to see my friends. Come here and see my family, my dad’s already looking at flights to Houston, so help me move in when I get down there and watch me play. It’s kind of bittersweet, but it’s part of the game and part of life.
On what his discussion with manager Buck Showalter was about:
Pretty much I just thanked Buck for everything that he’s done. He’s a great manager and has taught me a lot, I’ve learned a lot from him. It seems like he really liked me a lot. We had a good conversation and stuff like that. He said this is a great opportunity for me to go over there and be able to play every day. ‘It’s definitely going to be tough to be able to get an opportunity here [in Baltimore], we have three gold-glove outfielders out there. Just go over there and make the best of the opportunity and play hard.’
On being coveted enough to be a trade piece:
I look at it as a positive thing. This is a key piece they feel like can help in getting them over the hump. Knowing that another team values you that much to give up one of the keys pieces on their team to acquire you and help them build a future. So I’m going to go over there in Houston, hopefully [if I] work hard and go over there and start winning some games and make it to the playoffs [in] a couple years.
On whether he believes he would have had the chance to play in Baltimore:
I thought about it sometimes but I really tried not to focus on that because there’s nothing I can do, it’s out of my hands. I was up here in September last year, I was able to learn from those guys. I was able to talk to Nate and play with Nate last year; Nick was my locker mate in spring training; me and Jonesy have a great relationship so I’m always able to talk to him about different things. Just to see them, it makes you want to work that much harder because you want to get to where they’re at and do the things they’re doing. Being in Triple-A watching those guys play I couldn’t really worry about it because I had to make myself ready for the opportunity if I ever got the opportunity to play in Camden Yards in Baltimore for the Orioles. Just worked every day to make myself as good as I could possibly be so that if I ever got the opportunity I was ready to take advantage of it.
On speaking with Adam Jones, who was also traded early in his career:
We’ve actually talked about it the past couple weeks that I could be traded. He’s like, ‘look, it’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a good thing.’ With his situation, you know, Seattle to the Orioles and they weren’t doing that well when he got here. Now, they’re a playoff contending team. And it’s around the same age actually, ironically, that we’re both getting traded. He said, ‘just go over there, work hard and just play ball. You have a great opportunity now, make the best of that opportunity.’
On moving from one clubhouse to the other:
It’s already packed, they’re moving my stuff over to the other side right now. By the time I get over there, I’ll have to get acquainted with the coaches and stuff like that, learn the signs and I’ll go look up a scouting report on Gonzo, see how I’m going to attack him tonight. It definitely is weird because Gonzo is one of my good friends. In Triple-A we talked a lot. My last start, Sunday, I sat beside him and talked to him about different things that [Jon] Lester was doing to me. Now, I’ve got to go out there and face him tonight. But it’s all business and in between the lines you’ve got to take care of business. Off the field, go have your fun and hang out and stuff like that. It’s going to be weird but it’ll be fine.