Slugger Pedro Alvarez signed a one-year, $5.75 million contract with the Orioles. The 29-year-old Alvarez was introduced at a press conference in Sarasota. (Baltimore Sun video)
Orioles slugger Pedro Alvarez didn't wait long to show why he was considered one of the more dangerous power hitters in the National League.
He came up in a spring training game for the first time as an Oriole on Sunday and hammered a ball off the fence in right-center field for a double that scored the first run of the game in Sunday's 14-5 exhibition loss to the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium.
Maybe it figured that the player he would drive home with his first Orioles hit was former Vanderbilt teammate Ryan Flaherty.
Alvarez just missed another hit when he rifled a ball up the middle, but it was snagged by Twins second baseman Brian Dozier and turned into a forceout.
"First and foremost, I'm just very excited and happy to be out there today, getting the opportunity to play,'' Alvarez said. "When you can do something like that, it kind of puts icing on the cake a little bit, on top of things. I'm glad to get a couple of ABs and a couple of reps out there today."
"He was solid,'' Showalter said. "I know I've said a lot about the length of spring training, but I know he was happy to get out there. He looked good. I thought he got the first ball. He said he got it on the end."
His first game was all good. He also played first base for five innings without incident and apparently will be showing up at two other positions over the final three weeks of spring training. When asked whether Alvarez might play some third base, Showalter nodded and said he might even play the outfield in some camp games.
What Showalter said he will not do is prejudge Alvarez's much-questioned ability to play effectively in the field.
"You hear a lot of things,'' Showalter said. "Somebody tells us, 'He needs to do this. He needs to do that. He did this … this problem.' Stop. I heard that same stuff about a lot of guys that didn't turn out that way. Plus, I've got a lot of confidence in our players and our culture and our coaches and his teammates."
Showalter wants Alvarez to view this as a fresh start, as if he needs one after establishing himself as a premier power hitter in the National League.
Though Alvarez appears comfortable at the plate already, Showalter said that once minor league games start, he could get as many at-bats as he wants and "could very easily lead our team in plate appearances this spring."
Showalter on Gonzalez: It should come as no surprise that Showalter was not pleased with the overall performance of the pitching staff Sunday.
"[Vance] Worley threw the ball well, and [Parker] Bridwell continues to have a good spring, and you could probably hold your voice down after that,'' he said.
Starter Miguel Gonzalez was hit hard for the second time in three spring outings, which drew a mild critique from his manager.
"Miguel was not as crisp as he needs to be to be effective up here, and he knows that,'' Showalter said. "That's what spring training's about, and I have a lot of confidence that he'll pick it up as we go forward. It's just little things, not quite the finish on the breaking ball he's going to have. Not quite the life on the fastball. I think more than anything, location, you can tell by body language, a lot of pitchers don't feel comfortable yet. Kind of like [Twins starter Ricky] Nolasco. Guys with good track records sometimes struggle this time of year."
McFarland appears close: T.J. McFarland threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Sunday morning, his first time on a mound after leaving his March 6 appearance with elbow inflammation, and after reporting no issues, he said the next step is returning to game action.
"I threw a good side, no problems," McFarland said. "Everything's good, coming out all right. … I'm not anticipating any problems, but tomorrow, we'll reassess it in the morning and go from there. I think I feel good and ready to get back out there."
Showalter said McFarland "threw great" but would wait to see how he responds the next two days before returning him to the exhibition pitching schedule.
Triggs claimed: Right-hander Andrew Triggs, whom the Orioles released to add Alvarez to the 40-man roster, was claimed off waivers by the Oakland Athletics, the team announced. Triggs was added to the 40-man roster after a superlative season in Double-A Bowie, striking out 70 batters in 61 relief innings, with a 1.03 ERA in 43 appearances.
Around the horn: Showalter also said Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman had good bullpen sessions in advance of their next starts. Tillman will face the Toronto Blue Jays in his Grapefruit League debut Tuesday after missing two weeks of games with a strained right hip flexor. Gausman will pitch Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.