Robert Andino, a Showalter nugget
There may be no player on the Orioles that gives manager Buck Showalter more pride than Robert Andino.
It was at Showalter's suggestion that Andino was promoted last September after being taken off the club's 40-man roster in March 2010.
Andino was out of options this year, but he made the team based on a strong spring and an endorsement from Showalter.
And Andino, a second-round pick of the Florida Marlins' in 2002, has seized the opportunity presented to him.
Because of Brian Roberts' concussion, Andino was thrust into a starting role. He has started 73 games at second, 24 at short, 19 at third and two in left field. In 131 total games, he is hitting .269 with a .333 on-base percentage, four homers, 32 RBIs and 58 runs scored.
Modest numbers, but especially solid for a guy who wasn't claimed by any team last year.
Andino's 27 now, and Showalter thinks he is starting to realize his talent. He said hitting coach Jim Presley, who had Andino in Florida, and Brian Graham, the organization's coordinator of minor league instruction, have said the same thing.
"This is the best stretch [Presley and Graham] have seen with consistency," Showalter said. "And you can just tell the confidence he is playing with on both sides of the ball. Even running the bases, his leads are different, his body language is different."
Andino had the key hit in Tuesday's 7-5 win over Boston, slapping a three-run liner into right field against Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon in the eighth.
A few months ago, maybe Showalter would have pinch-hit for Andino in that spot. But no longer.
"Sitting back here, I couldn't imagine many guys I'd rather have in that situation," Showalter said.