BOSTON — On his way to Fenway Park from the team hotel, Orioles outfielder John Andreoli took a detour on what must have been a familiar, brisk Massachusetts Monday. To make his walk more meaningful, the Shrewsbury, Mass.-raised Andreoli first swung by the parking lot his father, John, used for their trips to Red Sox games.
“It was pretty cool to go through that and remember all those times and, for the first time, be a player here,” Andreoli said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
Andreoli didn’t make it into the game Monday night but could get his opportunity to play in front of dozens of family members and friends in the final two games of the series against Boston left-handers David Price and Chris Sale.
As meaningful as that will be when the time comes, Andreoli also understands that his playing time in this final week against the top team in the majors comes in the context of a pivotal stretch in his major league development.
A longtime farmhand with the Chicago Cubs, the 28-year-old Andreoli made his major league debut with the Seattle Mariners in May and was claimed off waivers by the Orioles in mid-August.
He’s appeared in 18 games, going 11-for-49 (.224) with a double, two RBIs and two steals while playing all over the outfield. As someone who spent years on the cusp of the majors at Triple-A, Andreoli said he’s learned plenty about the highest level in the last month-plus.
“I think hitting, I know I’ve got to make some adjustments and it’s probably going to be a lot more in the offseason because doing it day-in, day-out against major league pitching is tough,” Andreoli said. “But I feel like I have a good grip of what I need to work on, and I feel like I’m getting better and better each day in the field, making some plays out there that I’ve been happy with. I think the more you get out there, whatever role it is, whether it’s pinch-run, pinch-hit, starting that day, coming in as a defensive replacement, you’re going to keep gaining experience and gaining confidence. That’s how you grow as a player.”
Andreoli has, for the most part, fit the billing that he brought to Baltimore. He’s shown himself to be a tremendous athlete, with his sprint speed of 29.7 feet per second ranking 14th best in all of baseball, according to MLB Statcast data from BaseballSavant.com. On their leaderboard, his name appears with some of the game’s fastest players.
In the field, he’s made a play on all but one of the 26 balls in his respective zone this year, and nine out of his zone. What will keep him with the Orioles long-term, however, is what he does with his bat. And he’s glad for the month-plus he’s spent with the Orioles to give him a chance to learn what’s required to hit at this level.
“The only way to know what it’s like is to go through that experience,” Andreoli said. “People tell you about it, but to experience it firsthand, you see what these major league pitchers consistently have got. You see what they’re so successful up here, what they compete with, and every single guy is really good. You’ve got to bring your A-game and find a way to be consistent and find a way to compete even when you’re not feeling good. All these starters and all these guys coming out of the ’pen have got great arms, and you’ve got to be locked in all the time to be able to produce consistently.”