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On rehab path after Tommy John, Orioles' converted pitcher Dariel Álvarez embracing mound

SARASOTA, FLA. — As a group of pitchers the Orioles coaches believe can make an impact at the major league level worked this week at the team's minicamp, another player they fit in that category has been working on his own off to the side.

Outfielder-turned-pitcher Dariel Álvarez was invited to the minicamp so the team could check in on his rehabilitation from Tommy John elbow reconstruction, a process the 29-year-old said is on track.

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"I've been doing the rehabilitation, and it's going pretty good so far," Álvarez said through pitching instructor Ramón Martínez, who translated for him. "By the end of the month, I'll be on flat mound."

The Orioles' annual January minicamp has been a worthy snapshot of every year of reliever Mychal Givens' career. This year, before he reported, he showcased how important he can be off the field, too.

The Orioles haven't gotten to see much of him as a pitcher, as Álvarez converted last March after he was cut from major league camp. He was set to go to Low-A Delmarva to pitch in relief with some days as the designated hitter in between, but the arm injury occurred early in the season.

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"I never had any arm problems, but it happened," he said. "It just happened."

The Orioles outrighted him off the 40-man roster soon thereafter, but re-signed him to a minor league contract to rehab him. At the minicamp, he did a long-toss routine Monday and worked on his delivery on flat ground under the watchful eye of pitching coach Roger McDowell and manager Buck Showalter.

Showalter said he could tell Álvarez was "very upbeat," and warned that while there were a lot of ifs involved in whether he could get back healthy and embrace being a pitcher, he could be on the major league radar before long.

That will require Álvarez to get back to the pitching mindset he carried as a two-way player in Cuba before the Orioles signed him. Many clubs thought higher of him as a pitcher than a hitter, but the Orioles let him play the outfield, and he was a career .293 hitter over four minor league seasons while getting major league stints in 2015 and 2016.

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However, the club decided his future was on the mound, and after some convincing, Álvarez agreed.

"I was kind of surprised last year," Álvarez said. "That was the reaction. I was a little bit in shock that I'd become a pitcher with the mindset of a hitter, but after a while, I got back and set my mind in a positive way. It's my chance. I think I have a better chance to become a pitcher and get to the major leagues."

Spring training tickets go on sale Saturday

Individual tickets for all 16 of the Orioles’ spring training games at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota will go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m.

Tickets can be purchased online (www.orioles.com/spring), by phone (877-222-2802) or at Ed Smith Stadium starting Saturday. Season, five-game flex-plans, group tickets, suites and other specialty areas are available by calling 941-893-6312. The team recommends that fans purchase tickets online.

If fans wish to buy tickets at Ed Smith Stadium, individual game tickets will be available at the Left Field Ticket Office, at 12th Street and Tuttle Avenue. The box office will be open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will then be open those same hours Monday through Friday from Jan. 15 until Feb. 9. From Feb. 12 to March 24, the box office will be open the same hours seven days a week. Parking is available in the East Lot at 12th Street and Tuttle Avenue.

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