Orioles manager Buck Showalter had hoped to get trade acquisition Alejandro De Aza into the starting lineup Sunday, especially since he had previous success against Minnesota Twins starter Ricky Nolasco.
But De Aza, who is 3-for-9 with two home runs in his career against Nolasco, was delayed when he missed his flight to Baltimore from Chicago. De Aza arrived on a later flight, and he was in the Orioles dugout by the fourth inning.
“I missed the flight, and once I missed the flight, I knew I was going to be late, so I just called and let them know,” De Aza said after the game.
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De Aza, who gives the Orioles another left-handed hitter and a player capable of playing all three outfield positions, enters the middle of a pennant race after playing for a White Sox team that is 13 games under .500.
“It’s exciting,” De Aza said. “And I’m glad to be here, and I’m glad to be part of this team. … It’s great. At the same time, I got to know a lot of people there, but this is the game. This is part of the business. One day you’re here, another day you can be somewhere else.”
Showalter said since De Aza arrived in the middle of the game, he didn’t have the opportunity to really talk to him.
“I didn't spend much time with him other than a handshake,” Showalter said. “We had a lot going on in that game. I haven't talked to him yet. Happy to be here, I hope. I'm sure he is. I know he's been talking to some of the guys. I was going to try to get him in the game [Sunday], but things kind of changed from inning to inning.”
To make room for De Aza, the Orioles optioned left-hander T.J. McFarland to short-season Single-A Aberdeen. The club will be without McFarland for just two days because he can return after the IronBirds’ season ends Monday.
Catcher Steve Clevenger, who was optioned to short-season Aberdeen before Sunday’s game in order to make room for starter Wei-Yin Chen, will return to the Orioles on Monday. Clevenger started Sunday’s game in Aberdeen.
New additions mean uncertain roles for some players
With the additions of De Aza and Kelly Johnson, Showalter said he met with a few players to touch base with them about their roles.
“Talking to Delmon [Young] today, and talking to a couple other guys, just make sure they understand,” Showalter said. “It’s the unknown that drives players crazy. You want them to understand things. I had a real good idea what they were going to say, and they’re usually pretty short conversations, but you have them nonetheless.”
Showalter said he will keep getting all of his players involved. The addition of De Aza will give the Orioles a chance to rest outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis in the late innings of games that aren’t close. The addition of Johnson — who can play first, second and third bases — ensures the team doesn’t have to rush first baseman Steve Pearce back from an abdominal strain.
Even though both Johnson and De Aza are left-handed hitters, they won’t necessarily play against right-handed pitching exclusively.
In his career, Johnson has hit left-handers (.273) better than right-handers (.242), and while De Aza has struggled against left-handers this season (he is batting just .105 against them, compared to .276 against righties), he batted .302 against lefties last season.
“I don’t become a prisoner to it, but I do look at the matchups, and the ballparks, and the history of guys here and there, and it allows you to [decide],” Showalter said. “It’s going to create some good problems. You’re going to have three or four guys. We’re going to keep everybody in the flow.”
Around the horn
After being hit by a pitch in the first inning of Sunday’s game, Jones has been hit in three consecutive games, tying the club record set by Brady Anderson (June 23-25, 1996), Chris Hoiles (June 10-14, 1996) and Frank Robinson (June 10-14, 1968). … Sunday’s win improved the Orioles’ record to 6-12 in home day games and 19-25 overall in day games. … With his next double, Nelson Cruz will become the 10th Orioles player to have at least 35 home runs and 25 doubles in the same season.