The last time the Orioles and Yankees faced off in the first week of the season, Jace Peterson was in the home pinstripes and playing well during a brief minor league call-up with New York.
Thursday night, he was given the chance to bat leadoff against his former club as part of an extended opportunity with the Orioles as they look to cover the absence of infielder Tim Beckham, who is out after undergoing core surgery. It's a chance Peterson, a 28-year-old 2011 first-round draft pick who is with his fourth major league team, is happy to have. And it’s one manager Buck Showalter seems glad to give him.
"Jace is a baseball player," Showalter said. "I've been real pleased with, knock on wood, how he's played third base. He made a play the other night that reminded me how we haven't been turning hits into outs like we need to. That was a play, he turned a hit into an out.
"He's a guy who can play, I would feel comfortable at probably five or six positions. He's ready. He's very professional. He runs well. I still think you look at his background as a hitter, it hasn't been good this year, but someone asked today how you beat [Max] Scherzer. You have to have a bunch of [long] at-bats like he had to lead off a game.
"I'm impressed with him. You know what you're getting. You never have to look for him, whether it's pinch-hit, pinch-run, he knows what's expected of him. I'm a little surprised he hasn't hit a little better, because he's got some skills."
Peterson arrived batting .300 in 10 at-bats with the Yankees, and has started 22 of the 32 games the Orioles have played since he arrived, batting .171/.300/.263 in that span. More important to the Orioles is that he's made just two errors on the infield while replacing Jonathan Schoop, who had been out with an oblique injury, and then Beckham.
"I've enjoyed it," Peterson said. "I think that defensively, I've been playing pretty good. Offensively, I kind of started off good but it's been slow. Hits have been few and far between, but for me it's definitely been a great opportunity and I'm grateful for it. I'm just looking to moving forward."
Peterson wasn't always struggling at the plate. Like so many other Orioles arrivals before him, he started quickly. He had three extra-base hits in his first three games and stole a couple bases then, too. He's looking forward to getting back to that feeling as opportunities continue to come his way.
"I think you get somewhere and kind of go out and play baseball," Peterson said. "There's not really much thinking about the mechanical. You just go out here and play, and maybe that has something to do with it. For me, my approach is the same. I'm just going to go out there and look to have fun and compete and let the rest take care of itself."