Now that his playing time is starting to increase, Orioles slugger Pedro Álvarez has two weeks to prove he belongs in the major leagues for more than a month next season.
That won't change how Álvarez handles whatever assignments he gets from manager Buck Showalter, he said.
"Getting opportunities to go out there is again, out of my hands, out of my reach," Álvarez said. "Everyone wants to be able to compete up here, and I want the same opportunities as well. But personal accolades and all that stuff, that's never been the thing for me. It's all about how can I help to win the game that day? And that's what's important to me. That's what's important for me to show what I can do, and the rest will take care of itself. I've always been a big believer of things falling into place the way they should if you just go about things the right way, and work, and are prepared when you're called upon."
Monday night's start was the second Showalter has given him since the Orioles selected his contract from Triple-A Norfolk on Sept. 1, when rosters expanded in the majors. Before that, he'd been a regular for the Tides, first playing right field but eventually shifting to first base/designated hitter duties. He hit .239 with a .737 OPS and 26 home runs in Norfolk, and entered Monday with one hit in nine at-bats this month for the Orioles.
His only hit came in his only start before Monday, when he singled while going 1-for-3 on Saturday against the New York Yankees. Otherwise, he was 0-for-6 in six pinch-hitting at-bats entering the game.
Then he broke through. Álvarez reached base in each of his five plate appearances Monday night. He walked his first two times up, homered in his third trip and had two singles — one of them a line drive off the left-field fence.
"It's just a change in preparation every day, obviously," Álvarez said before the game. "But the mentality is always the same, just coming to the park thinking you're going to play and being ready for it. Everybody who's here wants to play every day. That's out of our hands. I just have to be prepared."
Center fielder Adam Jones is back in the lineup, batting cleanup, after making just two starts in the Orioles' four-game series in New York this weekend because of general soreness caused by playing on the turf in Toronto before that.
"Better," Showalter said. "He's in the fight. He's ready to go. We'll see. He got shortened up a couple of games in New York, so I'm hoping he's over some of that Toronto stuff."
Jones is batting .282 with a .785 OPS this season, and has started 140 of the team's 150 games.
As most are around the game, Showalter is flummoxed by why expanded rosters in September are allowed to be used the way they are, with teams carrying deeper bullpens and benches for the month.
However, he rarely talks about the consequences the way he did Monday, when he said the Orioles eliminating the Boston Red Sox from the playoffs in his first season, 2011, was wrong.
"That wasn't right," Showalter said. "That wasn't fair. We shouldn't have been able to compete with them this time of year."
Showalter offered his typical suggestion of rosters still expanding as big as a club sees fit, but 25 players being designated as eligible for a given series so the game more closely resembles what it is the rest of the season.
Around the horn
The Orioles will hand out the rest of their minor league awards Saturday at Camden Yards. Left-hander Alexander Wells won the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year award earlier this month before going home for the offseason to his native Australia. ... All fans at Tuesday night's game against Boston will receive an Orioles knit hat. ... Showalter said he had no comment on the Red Sox being disciplined by Major League Baseball for using technology to steal signs.