Coming off a run of left-handed pitchers that have kept him out of the starting lineup, Orioles designated hitter Pedro Alvarez said he’s just waiting to put together a few at-bats to continue the mini-hot streak he began earlier this week.
“Every day I’m feeling more and more comfortable, and just the key always is to string a couple of good at-bats together and keep that momentum going,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez had two-hit games Monday and Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, doubling his Orioles hit total in the process. But he hasn’t started against a left-hander this season, and has to adjust to that infrequent role after being more of an everyday player for most of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pinch hit Thursday, but that’s his only appearance in the past three days.
“I’m here to do whatever they need me for,” Alvarez said. “I’ve got to be ready to play every day. Two days ago, I was put in in the ninth inning. That's my job, just to be ready when I’m called upon. Today, I get to start and that doesn’t change my mentality every day when I come to the ballpark.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he doesn’t like such long layoffs, but tries to balance Alvarez, left fielder Hyun Soo Kim and outfielder Nolan Reimold behind corner outfield starters Mark Trumbo and Joey Rickard. Rickard didn’t start for the first time this season to accommodate Kim and Alvarez on Saturday.
“I’m not going to make a problem out of it,” Showalter said. “I do try to look at it through their eyes, all the time, even though the team’s benefiting from it. There’s always going to be — it’s such a long season, trying to get them to understand there’s going to be a time where if they keep doing well, the water’s going to part and they’re going to be out there every day. There’s always that chance. As long as you keep doing the things that you can control, that opportunity will come.
Wieters catches back-to-back: On Saturday, catcher Matt Wieters was behind the plate for the second straight day for the first time this season, which Showalter said was for a variety of reasons, including his surgically repaired elbow.
“That was more of an elbow [reason]," Showalter said. “He hasn’t had many throws, which is a tribute to our pitchers being good to the times to the plate.”
Showalter pointed out that there was also a bit of strategy involved. Since Wieters is a switch-hitter, he was able to bat left-handed against right-handed Chicago White Sox starter Mat Latos, and then he would be able to take two days off because the Orioles aren’t scheduled to play Monday.
Around the horn: With the threat of inclement weather Sunday, the Orioles’ and White Sox’s mutual day off comes into play for a possible postponement. The two teams also are both off May 16 if a makeup is needed. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Orioles entered Saturday with nine home runs on the first pitch of at-bats, tied for most in the majors with the Chicago Cubs. The Orioles also had a league-leading .481 batting average in one-pitch at-bats.
Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.