The focus of the Orioles’ Pedro Alvarez experiment is centered on whether the slugger can hold his own defensively in the outfield. But Alvarez has reminded the club Saturday in his Grapefruit League debut what kind of asset he can potentially be.
Alvarez, making his first career start in right field Saturday against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field, caught the only ball hit his direction on the day, offering more production with his bat in the Orioles' 5-4 win.
Alvarez drove in two runs, hitting a solo home run to lead off the seventh and a two-out RBI single to ignite a three-run fourth inning for the Orioles.
Third baseman Chris Johnson followed Alvarez’s fourth-inning hit with a two-run homer over the left-field fence off left-hander CC Sabathia. Both of the left-handed hitting Alvarez’s hits Saturday came against lefty pitchers. He took Tommy Layne deep on his home run and hit his RBI single off Sabathia.
“[It] was a good day for him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He had some really good at-bats against left-handed pitching. We knew he would. Sometimes left-handed guys like to see left-handed guys to make them stay on the ball a little bit more.”
Alvarez played six innings in the field, but had just one ball come his way – in the air or on the ground – in his outfield debut.
“I don’t think anything is routine yet,” Showalter said. “No, he said, ‘Now I got that one out of the way.’ I said, ‘Where did you have more anxiety, as the ball went up or came down?’ He said, 'Just coming off the bat to make sure I could judge it.’"
Showalter said Alvarez, who signed a minor league deal with the Orioles on Monday, realizes the advantages of playing the outfield.
“He’s playing with house money now,” Showalter said. “... He was sitting at home and the people knocking on the door weren’t something he thought was a good fit. He’s comfortable [here]. He knows people, has a memory of what he did for us last year. We’re trying to create an opportunity for his career and for the Orioles. He’s smiling real easy.”
Bundy rebounds against Yankees
Right-hander Dylan Bundy rebounded from a rocky outing, going four innings against the Yankees.
Bundy allowed three runs on four hits, two of those runs coming on Gary Sanchez’s two-out two-run double in the third inning. Bundy issued three walks and struck out one.
In his previous start Sunday, Bundy was tagged for five runs over two innings.
“It was better than the last one,” Bundy said. “The last one, I only went two innings. Sixty-five pitches or something like that -- I’m happy to get the pitch count up there. Overall, I think it was better than last outing as far as command, especially the last couple of innings. Changeup, I was trying to go away to Gary Sanchez, and it came back up over the middle, but it was down. Maybe a mistake, but I was happy overall with the way I threw.”
Bundy said he could have gone deeper in the game, but was held to a 65-pitch limit.
“Yeah I was wanting to go out again,” Bundy said. “I was going good, but I got the pitch count up to where they were happy with it. If they’re happy with it, then I am.”
Tavarez’s homer the difference
Rule 5 outfielder Aneury Tavarez’s first spring home run was an impactful one, coming against recently signed Yankees reliever Ernesto Frieri in the ninth inning in a tied ballgame.
Tavarez, who took a full-count delivery from Frieri over the left-field fence, is 10-for-34 this spring.
“He’s centered up a lot of balls,” Showalter said. “… I felt we like we had real good knowledge once we got him. Bobby [Dickerson] had him for like two weeks. I can see why we coveted him.”