Commentary: Pearce blooming late

At 31 his career seemed in jeopardy. Again. But there was some interest and as he contemplated other opportunities, Chris Davis went on the disabled list.

Steve Pearce waited until the Orioles could re-sign him and returned. He did a solid job subbing for the All-Star first baseman and kept a roster spot after Davis returned.

Initially he was again anchored to the bench. But a funny thing happened when he got a chance to play. He hit. And manager Buck Showalter keeps writing his name in the lineup. Saturday marked his 13th start since June 11.

And why not. He's batting a team-best .323 for the season, having long ago dug out of that 0-for-17 hole. The guy whose previous career high for home runs was four had seven, to go with 20 RBIs, in 133 at-bats through Friday.

He recently had a .481 average during a seven-game hitting streak that included five straight multi-hit games. He mashes fastballs and on a team filled with guys who chase bad pitches he exhibits great plate discipline.

With Davis and Manny Machado hitting below expectations and Matt Wieters out for the year, it's a fair question to ask where the team would be without Pearce over the past two months.

Showalter has said he feels like Pearce has finally got it figured out.

So, is this perhaps a crazy tale of a late-bloomer emerging for an impossible-to-script, All-Star career?

Probably not. There aren't many tales like that.

Jamie Moyer won 210 games after the Orioles elected not to re-sign him as he was turning 33. There are some other examples throughout baseball history of pitchers "figuring it out" late, Dazzy Vance, Hoyt Wilhelm, and R.A. Dickey among them. It is rare for hitters.

Jose Bautista - yep, another Orioles' castoff - became a superstar at 29. Dante Bichette turned his career around at 31. But both had at least been starters before.

Pearce has never had 200 at-bats in a season. He's never gone to the park and seen his name in the lineup game after game, as he has lately.

Most likely he is simply a role player who got on a nice roll. Longtime Orioles fans can remember when the likes of Terry Crowley or Jim Dwyer would go through spurts of great productivity. It didn't mean they were destined to become full-time players. More recently, David Newhan hit .311 in nearly 400 at-bats for Baltimore in 2004. He hit .226 the rest of his career.

A hot stretch, even an extended one like Pearce is on, doesn't mean much long-term.

But short-term? Fans should just enjoy and appreciate it.

As for Pearce, he won't get too comfortable, of course. But at least it's fair to say he won't be getting released again any time soon.

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