Orioles notes: Pedro Alvarez making transition to outfield upon return

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Pedro Alvarez is back at Orioles camp, but this year he will try to play outfield for them.

Slugger Pedro Alvarez arrived at Orioles camp Monday and will play exclusively in the outfield, manager Buck Showalter said.

"We talked about it last September, about how it was something we kind of came to the conclusion for him to get on and continue down a better path, if he could present himself," Showalter said. "I'm going to be surprised if he can't do it. Pretty athletic, kind of fits his skill set, too. He's got a plus arm, and he's going to work hard at it."

Showalter said Alvarez, who on Monday signed an incentive-laden minor league deal with a major league camp invitation that will pay him a base of $2 million if he makes the big leagues, will primarily play right field because of his arm strength.

Alvarez, 30, recalled that conversation with Showalter and other leaders in the organization with an appreciation both for their wish to fit him back on their roster this season and for their general care for him and his career.

"I think the fact it was brought up with me showed a desired to have me around, and I appreciated that conversation last year," Alvarez said. "But by the same token too, I know it was coming from a good place in his heart, looking out for my career."

Mancini debuts in outfield: On the same day Alvarez arrived to begin his transition to the outfield, rookie Trey Mancini started in right field for the first time Monday against the Phillies.

Coincidentally enough, his transition occurred at Vanderbilt University parallel to Alvarez's, who worked out at the same facility this offseason. Mancini said that although both were working toward the same thing — securing a major league job this year — they mostly overlapped in the batting cages. There wasn't much crossover time when each was learning the outfield.

Mancini didn't have a fly ball hit his way Monday but chased down several hits into the outfield. Showalter said it was too early to build an impression, but that he looked comfortable there. Before the game, he said Mancini was surprising the team with his aptitude at the new spot.

"His arm's playing a little bit better out there than we thought," Showalter said. "It's not as short as it is in the infield. A pretty athletic guy. He runs pretty good underway — there's only one way to find out, right?"

Caution with Smith: Outfielder Seth Smith was back doing baseball activities Monday, a new development as he works back from what Showalter is characterizing as a minor hamstring injury that has kept him out since Wednesday.

"It's one of those things where he'd be playing during the season, but we've got plenty of time," Showalter said. "Don't want it to turn into something. He had it last spring, and it was worse last spring and he played through it and he went in

to the season hampering him, so we're trying to stay away from that."

Around the horn: First baseman Chris Davis (bronchitis) was back in camp Monday but could need a few days before he plays, Showalter said. ... Closer Zach Britton will make his Grapefruit League debut Tuesday. … Right-hander Joe Gunkel was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, leaving the Orioles' camp roster at 51 players. Gunkel appeared in three games, allowing five earned runs on nine hits in four innings.

Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this story.

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