ARLINGTON, TEXAS — New Orioles outfielder Dariel Alvarez escaped Cuba in the dark of night in a speedboat that ran out of gas once in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico before finally reaching Mexico's shore in 2012. He began another kind of journey Friday night.
His first major league call-up, first major league game and first big-league at-bat all occurred Friday against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park.
"It's a dream come true. I'm so happy," Alvarez said through assisting hitting coach Einar Diaz, who acted as an interpreter. "I thank my family and this organization. I'm so happy right now, I can't believe it."
The Orioles signed Alvarez for an $800,000 bonus in 2013; this is his third season playing in the organization and first full year at Triple-A Norfolk, where he hit .275 with 16 homers and 72 RBIs in 130 games.
The 26-year-old was considered the club's fifth-best prospect by Baseball America heading into this year. His solid season and rocket right arm made him the organization's most anticipated call-up of 2015. That could come with a major league case of the nerves.
"Sometimes when guys go up to a higher level, if that's your goal to get to in your life, there's a certain calmness about finally getting there. I don't know," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said about what he expected from Alvarez. "I'm as curious as you all are to see how it goes. We picked a really easy pitcher for him to break in against. But it's the big leagues."
On Friday, Alvarez made his debut playing right field and batting eighth against Texas lefty Cole Hamels, one of the top pitchers in the game. His ability to hit lefties was one of the main reasons Alvarez received the call before rosters expand in September. Beginning Friday, the Orioles were scheduled to face four left-handed starters in five games.
So it made sense to bring up Alvarez and demote left-handed-hitting Henry Urrutia, who hit .265 in 10 games with the Orioles with a walk-off homer on Aug. 19. Both Cuban defectors, Urrutia and Alvarez were road roommates with the Tides, and Alvarez said Urrutia served as an inspiration when he was promoted to the Orioles earlier this month.
"That motivated me to work hard and come here," Alvarez said. "We always talk about that. I was really happy for him."
The organization, including Triple-A manager Ron Johnson, was exceptionally happy for Alvarez, Showalter said.
"I think it means as much to [Alvarez] as anybody we called up. He was pretty emotional about it," Showalter said. "The kid played hard every day down there. [Johnson] said there wasn't a day he didn't post up and show up ready to go. And if you look at his background and what he's been through to get to this point, you can see how he feels that way."
Showalter said Urrutia would meet the Tides in Norfolk for Monday's game. It's possible, but not a guarantee, that Urrutia will be back at some point in September.
"We'll see if it's a fit for us. We're not going to just call bodies up. They're gonna have to be somebody we think can contribute," Showalter said. "He's getting there, he had a good year down there and he did some good things for us here."
Jones back in lineup
Center fielder Adam Jones, who left Thursday's game in Kansas City two innings after crashing into the outfield wall, was back in the lineup Friday.
First he had to clear additional tests with the Rangers doctor, Showalter said, including concussion protocol as well as an examination of his wrists. All checked out.
"He's fine, ready to go," Showalter said. "We hoped [Jones] would be, but we wanted to go through all the proper channels to get there."
Clevenger off paternity list
Catcher Steve Clevenger was activated from the paternity list Friday. Clevenger's wife, Tiffany, gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Peyton, earlier this week. Peyton was a couple of weeks premature, but mother and daughter are doing well and should be released from the hospital Saturday, Clevenger said.
"It's been awesome. My family's very happy. I'm just glad everything went well," Clevenger said. "The doctors did a great job and the nurses are taking great care of them."
The Orioles had already made a roster move to make room for Clevenger, optioning reliever Jorge Rondon to Norfolk after Thursday's game.
Roe likely back Wednesday
Right-hander Chaz Roe, who is on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, threw a 25-pitch simulated game Friday. He is expected to pitch for Double-A Bowie on Monday, and if all goes well, return to the Orioles bullpen Wednesday.
"At first, you know I was kind of skeptical of [going on the DL]," Roe said. "But everything started feeling good. Everything is back to normal. And it definitely is a good thing for me."
Around the horn
Shortstop J.J. Hardy (left groin), who rejoined the team in Texas, said he's feeling better and expected to do light activities such as playing catch this weekend. He hasn't yet been cleared to run, but still hopes to be back by Sept. 8, when he's first eligible to come off the DL. … Right-hander Tyler Wilson (oblique) threw a 48-pitch bullpen Thursday, will throw 70 pitches Saturday and then should rejoin the Tides. … Right-hander Mike Wright (calf) pitched four innings, allowing one run on two hits and two walks for Norfolk on Thursday. He'll have at least one more outing there, in five days, before coming off the DL. … Showalter and third baseman Manny Machado phoned the Red Land Little League team Friday to wish it luck in Saturday's U.S. Little League championship game in South Williamsport, Pa. If Red Land wins win, it will advance to Sunday's overall championship game. Red Land is based out of Lewisberry, Pa., which is in northern York County, about 70 miles from Camden Yards. … Baysox outfielder Quincy Latimore, 26, was named to the season-ending Eastern League All-Star team. He entered Friday leading Bowie with 16 homers and 66 runs scored.