When the Baltimore Orioles opted not to resign Nate McLouth, it left an opening in left field.
It didn't take long for the Orioles to make a move to acquire who could possibly be McLouth's replacement. They traded Danny Valencia to the Kansas City Royals for 28-year-old David Lough on Dec. 18.
"There's a lot of guys going into camp competing for that spot," Lough said at Orioles FanFest. "I feel that I can provide that need that they need out in left field. That's what I'm here to do."
Lough doesn't have much major-league experience. He's played in just 116 games for Kansas City the past two seasons. Last year, Lough hit .286 in 315 at-bats over 96 games.
But perhaps more importantly last season, Lough made an impression on Baltimore hitting coach Jim Presley. During a game last season against the Royals, Presley said he told Orioles manager Buck Showalter that he was impressed by Lough.
"I really like the way he plays," Presley said. "He plays hard. He's running everything out. He knows how to bunt and is a good defender. He is high energy and I like that about him."
Because of that, Lough said he is excited for his opportunity in Baltimore.
"They always say you're not just competing or trying out for your team, you're trying out for other teams too," Lough said. "I'm one of those types of players that's a hard working player day in and day out."
Although Lough's career offensive numbers have been lackluster, he is a strong defensive player and is a good baserunner. The Orioles are one of the best defensive teams in the league, and Lough said that's an aspect of the game he prides himself on.
"Defense is important and I've always taken that seriously coming up through the minor leagues," Lough said. "I feel that my hitting, just kind of getting into the big leagues and getting my feet wet last year will definitely help at the plate."
Lough's speed hasn't necessarily translated to basestealing success however. Last year, he stole five bases on seven attempts. In 2012, he swiped just one, his only attempt. But that's something he said will also improve as he continues to gain more experience.
"Maybe it was a comfort level thing but I'm hoping to change that," Lough said. "I know what kind of speed I have and what kind of weapon it can be in the game, so I'm trying to utilize that a little bit more this year and try to steal a lot more bases."
Another role Lough can end up filling is another one that McLouth used to have - hitting leadoff. Lough's on-base percentage was just .311 last season, but Lough feels that's another area that will improve.
"I know my on-base percentage wasn't really there where I wanted it to be last year, but like I said, it's a new year," Lough said. "I feel comfortable enough where that can change about 30 or 40 points for sure."