While Junior Lake was preparing for his first day as an Oriole in the Los Angeles Angels' visiting clubhouse, a line of familiar faces greeted him.
Lake and Jimmy Paredes played with and against each other for years in their native Dominican Republic. Lake spent three seasons rooming with infielder Ryan Flaherty in the Chicago Cubs minor league system. Gerardo Parra and Lake became friendly during their years in the National League Central. Third base coach Bobby Dickerson was in the Dominican with the Cubs when they signed Lake as a teenager in 2007.
So the Orioles might be Lake's third team in a week, but he already feels at home.
"I'm ready to go. I'm excited to come here," said Lake, who was immediately inserted in the Orioles lineup as the designated hitter and eighth batter. "I'm ready to play hard. That's all I can control, to play hard. I don't control where I play or [when] I hit. But I play hard every day."
After just four games with Triple-A Norfolk, Lake was promoted to the Orioles on Friday when the club designated left-handed outfielder Travis Snider for assignment.
Snider, who was acquired in January from the Pittsburgh Pirates for two minor league pitchers, hit just .237 with three homers and 20 RBIs in 211 at-bats for the Orioles. The club now has 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers on the 27-year-old Snider, who was making $2.1 million this year. Any team that would claim him off waivers, if it gets to that point, would have to pick up what's remaining of his 2015 salary.
"He's a 27-year-old, left-handed hitting outfielder that has a better track record than he showed here, and I want him to present himself like he is capable of being the rest of the way," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He'll get either traded for or picked up, and he'll get more opportunities than he's going to have here and will present himself in the offseason well and the game has a way of coming around.
"Junior, I've heard good things about him and I'm looking forward to seeing him play. ... I just think [Snider] never got snowballing like he is capable of. But it's there."
Snider is the latest example of a player the Orioles were counting on this winter that has been jettisoned during the season, joining Alejandro De Aza, Delmon Young and Bud Norris, among others.
"It was a difficult decision to DFA Travis Snider, but given where we are and where we are trying to go, we felt it was time to address the club need," said Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. "Lake is a proven hitter and we are trying to address a need for more offensive production from our outfielders."
The right-handed-hitting Lake, 25, was batting .315 with a .404 on-base percentage and seven homers in 58 games with Triple-A Iowa when the Orioles obtained him July 31 in a deal that sent right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter to the Cubs. Lake had four hits in 12 at-bats with the Tides this week before being told Thursday evening that he'd be headed to Los Angeles to join the Orioles.
"I'm surprised a little bit, but not too much," Lake said. "I think I can be here and help the team."
A career .241 hitter with 16 homers in 602 major league at-bats with the Cubs over parts of three seasons, Lake has been much better against left-handed pitching. He has hit .287 with a .335 on-base percentage and a .450 slugging versus southpaws as a big leaguer.
Showalter acknowledged he didn't really know much about Lake, and Norfolk manager Ron Johnson only had a few games to evaluate his new player.
"We brought him up because we were facing a left-hander today, the first day in [Anaheim]," Showalter said. "We like our lineup better. We were a right-handed hitter short, and now we are not."
Signed as a shortstop out of the famed San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Lake was converted to the outfield in the minors and has never played a big league game in the infield. He said he is most comfortable as a left fielder, but will play wherever the Orioles need him.
Paredes, for one, said he thinks promoting Lake now is a great move.
"I played a lot of baseball with him and this guy is a good player. He can play all [outfield] positions and he's got good range in the field," Paredes said. "He's got power. He is like a five-tool player. He can do lots of things."
Flaherty, who said he hadn't seen Lake in a few years, immediately approached his former roommate and conversed with him in Spanish. Later on, Flaherty let Lake borrow a pair of his cleats until he gets his own Orioles equipment.
"He's a good guy and his tools are off the charts," said Flaherty, who roomed with Lake at three different minor league levels. "He can throw with the best, run with the best, hit with power with the best. I'm just excited to see him mature as a player from where he was before and see how it goes."