Slugging designated hitter Pedro Álvarez could see at-bats quickly as the Orioles look to work him back into the fold after he hit 22 home runs for them a season ago but couldn't crack their major league roster this year until rosters expanded in September.
"I think we'll probably play a little more matchup as we go on," manager Buck Showalter said. "I see him maybe starting some games. It looks like we're going to get three left-handers in a row the last day with these guys and two with New York, so we'll see. We looked hard at it today with [Joe] Biagini. We looked at [Marcus] Stroman and everything. We'll look at a way to get him in there. I think he can be a real shot in the arm for us."
Álvarez hit 26 home runs and batted .239 with a .737 OPS this season for Triple-A Norfolk. The 30-year-old was an International League All-Star and spent almost the entire season there despite having a contract opt-out in June that meant he could essentially leave at any point after that if there was a major league opportunity for him.
"It's like I told him today, I've been impressed," Showalter said. "You look at his background, his history — to go down there and post up like he did."
Just after his contract was selected to bring him back to the majors this year, Álvarez — who signed a minor league deal in spring training — said the waiting was "part of the process."
"Obviously we all want to play up here, but everybody's path is different and you've just got to take it day by day," Álvarez said. "That was my thought process down there; just continuing to get better."
The left-handed-hitting Álvarez could see time as a designated hitter against right-handed pitching, as well as a pinch hitter.
"The question has always been where are the at-bats going to come from for Pedro Álvarez," executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "Once we re-signed Mark Trumbo and we traded for Seth Smith and Trey Mancini emerged, we still have Chris Davis, those bats are at a premium, so that's really been the question with adding Pedro through the season. Where are the at-bats going to come from? And that will be the challenge for Buck to find some spots for him to hit here and there. But in September, I'm sure that he'll find a few."
Álvarez's transition back to the majors will be made easier by both the high level of baseball that's being played this time of year in a playoff chase and the fact that he's so familiar with the team.
"These guys do such a good job of making you feel at home," Álvarez said. "Even when I came as a new player last year, I feel like I was here for a while. I feel like I never left and am just jumping right back into the mix."
No August trades
Duquette said the Orioles got close to making two trades to add pitching ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline for players to be eligible for the postseason with a new organization, but none came to fruition.
"We tried to supplement our pitching staff, but we couldn't find the right fit," Duquette said. "We had three or four options that we were exploring and ultimately we decided to supplement our pitching staff from within the organization and add Jimmy Yacabonis. We're going to take a look at Richard Rodriguez, who has had a couple of really good years in Triple-A. Those guys have been doing a good job and taking into consideration the pitching we would have had to give up to acquire pitching for our major league team, we thought this was our best option to just add the guys we add from the minors."
Though none are eligible currently because they've recently been optioned to the minors, Showalter said Alec Asher (eligible on Sept. 2), Mike Wright (Sept. 7) and Donnie Hart (Sept. 8) are all likely to join the team soon.
Hardy held back again
Shortstop J.J. Hardy was at Camden Yards on Friday, a day after his minor league rehabilitation period on his way back from a fractured wrist ended. But he won't be activated from the 60-day disabled list for a few days.
"J.J. is going to see Dr. [Michael] Jacobs," Showalter said. "I've talked with Dr. Jacobs and [head athletic trainer Richie Bancells] and obviously J.J. There's a chance he'll get an injection today in his elbow — nothing to do with structure. Kind of like a tennis elbow, you might think, from all the hitting he's done. That would be a day or two. I'm hoping he is able to join us on Monday, somewhere around there. But that's what we'd like to hopefully happen. He said he's had it before and he had an injection and cleared it up."
Showalter has recently said Hardy was going through the spring training shoulder soreness period that everyone does after such a long period of activity, but this is a new problem.
"We just think that the shoulder just about where it's going to be," Showalter said. "But the elbow is something the last couple days that kind of cropped up, so instead of him continuing to play with it and it getting worse, we thought we'd bring him here and try it. If he'd have been completely healthy, he'd be active tonight. But we thought he's close enough to finish up here."
Around the horn
Showalter said infielder Chris Johnson, who entered Friday hitting .300 at Norfolk, was also a consideration for a call-up, but the team has 40-man roster concerns. ... Second baseman Max Hogan, a 32nd-round draft pick this year out of Missouri Southern State, was named a postseason All-Star in the Gulf Coast League. Hogan, 23, entered Friday batting .310 with a .971 OPS and 18 extra-base hits in 40 games.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.