Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he and executive vice president Dan Duquette had discussed the scenarios around the minor league contract opt-outs held by designated hitter Pedro Álvarez at Triple-A Norfolk, and others on the farm.
Álvarez was not initially in the lineup for the Tides on Thursday, but it was revised to include him later in the evening, meaning he could be sticking around there.
“There’s some conversation about which way he’s going to go,” Showalter said before Thursday's game. “I know Dan and I were talking about him, and some other things, today, and how that’s concerned — how things would fit or not fit. He’s come on here lately as he’s gotten closer to that day. Funny how that sometimes works.”
Álvarez homered Wednesday night to give him eight in his past 13 games. Though he was batting .223 on the year, he hit .351 in his 13 games before Thursday.
He has added the outfield to his defensive repertoire in an attempt to make him more useful on a major league roster. The 22 home runs he hit for the Orioles last season were valuable, but he was difficult to carry without a position.
There’s no obvious spot for him on the current 25-man roster. But the way Showalter has used Hyun Soo Kim so sparingly of late means Álvarez could theoretically fill that spot as a left-handed hitter off the bench, even if the Orioles are skeptical of his glove.
“It’s like, ‘Oh, we don’t have roster space,’ then somebody, that’s just like Barry Bonds comes available, so to speak,” Showalter said. “I’m not saying that’s with us, but you somehow find a spot on the roster. There’s always a way. Dan and I were discussing not only him, but some other people, how we might do it. We’ve got 40-man roster flexibility, too. We’ve worked hard with it, and there’s three or four spots there.”
Right-hander Edwin Jackson also had a June 1 opt-out, though teams have 48 hours to make a decision if it’s exercised.
Peña glad he stayed: When he had the tough conversation informing Francisco Peña that he was designated for assignment two weeks ago, Showalter told the backup catcher it was a 50-50 proposition as to whether he’d be claimed on waivers or remain in the organization.
Peña cleared waivers and accepted a minor league assignment, only to be back because of Welington Castillo’s testicular injury this week, proving the grass isn’t always greener when a player gets a chance to leave.
He spent that time with his family in Norfolk, unable to play baseball at all, but is glad to be back, even under these circumstances.
“It’s the game,” Peña said. “I’m not the only one who goes through it. There’s a bunch of guys that go through it as well. Thank God I made the decision to stay here and see what happens. You’re not happy when one of your teammates gets hurt, but I’m happy to be here.”
Peña had two home runs in seven at-bats before he was designated for assignment, and returns to a backup role for at least the next week while Castillo heals.
Castillo rest mandated: Showalter said Castillo wouldn’t have been able to play on doctor’s orders for “three or four days” after a deflected ball hit him in the groin and caused a blood clot.
“He’s running a real risk if he gets hit there again during that period,” Showalter said.
Otherwise, he didn’t have an update on the team’s starting catcher.
“You know, that’s not a conversation that’s easy to have, other than, ‘How are you feeling?’” Showalter said. “I was trying real hard not to use the wrong word yesterday to describe it — we got away with groin, right? But I’m going to probably talk to him a little later.”
Around the horn: The Orioles will send 1992 first-round draft pick Jeffrey Hammonds to this month’s draft to represent the team. … The first 25,000 fans, ages 21 and over, will receive the popular Orioles floppy hat at Friday night’s game against the Red Sox.