Designated hitter Pedro Álvarez spent most of last season at Triple-A Norfolk waiting for a phone call that didn’t come until September.
He showed up a little earlier this season and is trying to make up for lost time.
Álvarez launched two long home runs Friday night, doubling his home run total for the young season, and drove in three runs to support a strong start by Chris Tillman in the Orioles’ 6-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards.
“Everybody pulls for Pete because he’s done it the right way,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “This guy, he’s been on the other side of this, and he’s grinded like heck to get back here and get an opportunity, and people are really pulling for him. When he hits a couple home runs like that, I think everybody kind of smiles inside.”
His third home run of the season came in the fifth inning off Tigers starting pitcher Mike Fiers. No. 4 came two innings later with a runner aboard off reliever Johnny Barbato.
“We all try to do our part,” Álvarez said. “Every time I go up there, I just try to put some good at-bats together and was fortunate to put some good swings on a couple of balls and drive them out of the park.”
The Orioles hit three homers in all, starting with Manny Machado’s ninth of the year in the first inning. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but the inning after Álvarez hit his second homer, Barbato spun a slider right over Machado’s head and got an earful from the Camden Yards crowd of 14,223.
Álvarez and third baseman Danny Valencia were brought in during spring training to provide injury insurance, and they’ve gotten a lot of playing time because of injuries to Mark Trumbo, Jonathan Schoop and, more recently, Tim Beckham.
Trumbo could return next week, so Álvarez might’ve picked a good time to remind the team that he can be a valuable platoon DH. He certainly picked a good night to help carry the struggling Orioles offense.
“Every W is needed and obviously we’ve had a couple of rough skids,” Álvarez said, “but one thing this team does well is we stick together. We’re a pretty resilient bunch. As long as we keep that mentality and everyone does a good job of coming in every day and being prepared, things will turn around. But obviously this is a huge W and hopefully we’ll be able to keep the momentum going.”