When the Orioles sent outfielder-designated hitter Henry Urrutia back to Triple-A Norfolk after Friday night's loss to the Colorado Rockies, it ended the Cuban defector's first stint in major league baseball.
After batting .365 in the minor leagues, Urrutia hit .269 in 52 at-bats over 21 games with the Orioles with only one extra-base hit. He had three multihit performances, including a three-hit night July 22 in his second career start at Kansas City.
"I think Henry needs to go back and get where he was, and he will," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's going to be a good hitter. I'm glad. It's going to be good for both parties."
Urrutia made 10 starts at designated hitter for the Orioles, pinch hit on 10 occasions and was a defensive replacement in left field late in the Orioles' 11-0 loss to the Houston Astros on July 31.
Showalter said the Orioles' place in their schedule made it hard for Urrutia to get consistent at-bats. With the starting outfield set with Nate McLouth, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, Urrutia was almost exclusively a designated hitter. And when the Orioles embarked on an eight-game road trip against three National League West teams, he was relegated to a pinch-hitting role. Urrutia was 2-for-10 with a run scored and four strikeouts in those appearances.
"The thing that's impressed me is that he's very engaged in the game," Showalter said. "He's a fan of the game. He watched the game. He gets the competition. You don't ever have to search for him in a pinch-hitting spot. He very quickly figured out how it works."
Showalter said Urrutia, at age 26, was similar to a 22-year-old in professional baseball. There were flashes of a consistent hitter, and Showalter said Urrutia's power — he hit seven home runs in the minors — could come with time.
All he needs is consistent appearances at the plate.