Orioles notes: Birds have another Jonathan at second base in Villar

ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Newly acquired infielder Jonathan Villar joined the Orioles in Texas and immediately found himself in the starting lineup Thursday night for the opener of a four-game series at Globe Life Park.

He was playing regularly at second base for the Milwaukee Brewers until a thumb injury forced him onto the disabled list in mid-July. By the time he got back, he was on his way to Baltimore along with two other players in the trade for Jonathan Schoop.

The Orioles arrived in Texas at about the same time as Chris Tillman, who has signed a minor league contract with the Rangers.

Since he was one of the two players with major league experience the Orioles received in their flurry of July deals, he has been plugged right in at second base and also was in the leadoff spot for his Orioles debut.

Villar, 27, said his first reaction to the deal was it was business as usual. He already has been traded three times, first from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Houston Astros as a minor leaguer in 2010 and then from the Astros to the Brewers in 2015.


“It’s normal,” he said. “I feel good because I’m coming to Baltimore and that’s a new opportunity to play every day here. Milwaukee had too many infielders. … I feel happy because I’m coming to a new team, new guys. That’s very impressive for me and I’m very happy for that.”

Villar injured his right thumb sliding into third base, so he spent time in the indoor batting cage showing the coaching staff he could swing freely with a wrap on his hand. He passed that test and got his first chance to show the Orioles his repertoire of skills.

He didn’t waste any time doing that. He singled on the second pitch he saw in the first inning.

The club is particularly excited about his ability to disrupt a game on the base paths. He stole 62 bases for the Brewers in 2016 and will get every opportunity to flash that speed in an Orioles uniform.


Manager Buck Showalter was asked before the game whether Villar would have a green light.

“Is there a color greener than green?” he replied.

Showalter said Vilar will get an opportunity to play regularly at second base, but also could get some starts at shortstop. Villar said he’s comfortable almost anywhere on the infield and in the outfield.

“I’ll play any position they need from me,” he said. “I’m ready for anything.”

Givens grows up fast

Reliever Mychal Givens is 28 years old and has just 3½ seasons of major league experience, but he’s the most experienced pitcher in the Orioles bullpen.

He said Thursday he’s ready for a leadership role because of the great mentors he’s had since he arrived in the big leagues.

“It happened really fast,” he said, “especially not getting the chance to say goodbye to Darren [O’Day], because he was our leader in the bullpen. But I got to learn from him. Being around him and being in the best position being with Darren and Zach Britton and Brad [Brach]. I wish the best for them. They’ve passed the torch to me and I’m trying to be a leader in the bullpen now.

Carroll on Yankee Stadium debut

New relief pitcher Cody Carroll enjoyed every minute of his major league debut at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night. He pitched a scoreless inning at the ballpark where he figured he would make his first big league appearance when he was coming through the New York Yankees system.

Instead, he was traded to the Orioles in the Britton deal and got to pitch against his old team.

“It was a phenomenal experience,” Carroll said. “Especially being there, against my former team and organization, I think that made it special for me. It was everything you dream about.

“Obviously, not bright lights. It was a day game, but that’s fine. Good crowd, atmosphere. Couldn’t ask for anything more. And it turned out well, so that made it a little bit better.”

Around the horn

The Orioles optioned infielder Breyvic Valera, who came over in the Manny Machado deal, to Triple-A Norfolk after appearing in just one game. … Rule 5 reliever Pedro Araujo received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his sore right elbow, which will push back his return to the major league roster. Look for him in September.

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