SARASOTA, Fla. – Orioles manager Buck Showalter had praise for new outfielder David Lough, but also tempered expectations for the 28-year-old.
The Orioles acquired Lough in December for third baseman Danny Valencia, who emerged as the team's right-handed designated hitter against left-handed pitching.
"Kansas City is a very good organization, and I hope and I think that the reason why we got him is because they really had a need for Danny Valencia," Showalter said. Danny will fit them well. … He was somebody who really impressed me last year. But I saw him short. Nobody knows him like the Kansas City Royals. Everybody has dents in their armor. Sometimes, they don't reveal themselves for a while, so before you start patting yourself on the back, they got a good player who is going to help them in Danny. It's going to be hard to match Danny's production against left-handed pitching.
"What David has the chance to bring is, you're talking about a guy who might play a fourth of the time over there versus a guy who might play three-fourths of the time here," Showalter added. "That's pretty good math."
Lough hit .286/.311/.413 in 96 games last season for the Royals. But he has yet to play a full season in the big leagues, so he's somewhat an unknown commodity.
The club hopes he can fill the void in left field created when Nate McLouth signed with the Washington Nationals, though the apparent deal with free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz makes that situation more complicated.
"He doesn't need to show us how hard he plays," Showalter said of Lough. "He comes with that [reputation]. We've done our homework. I don't want him to be diving into fences. … He's here for a reason."
Showalter had been impressed with Lough's speed. He is 6-for-8 on steal attempts at the big league level but stole 31 of 40 bases over the past two years in Triple-A.
"I think of all the guys in the American League who were timed, he had the lowest average time down the line, the fastest of anybody, which tells me two things," Showalter said. "He can run and he can run balls out. I know some guys who run as fast as him but didn't finish in the top 10."
Asked if Showalter could see Lough in the now-vacant leadoff position, Showalter said it is possible. More than likely, Nick Markakis would fill the leadoff spot initially and Lough could work his way up the batting order.
"The prefect leadoff guy probably walks like Rickey Henderson," Showalter said. "There ain't many of them floating around. He's got a chance to fit that role. We'll see how it develops, especially if Nick presents himself as a little different look player."