Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar has made a solid impression with his bat since last month’s trade from the Milwaukee Brewers, with a pair of home runs over the Orioles’ past four games starting to show his power.
Few have questioned Villar’s ability make an offensive impact at any of his previous major league spots, but days like Sunday will be vital to the Orioles finding out where they’d like to deploy him defensively.
Villar began his career as primarily a shortstop, the position he played Sunday as Tim Beckham got the matinee with Cleveland off. But recently with the Brewers, he played second base, where the Orioles have deployed him as a replacement for Jonathan Schoop.
Manager Buck Showalter said ahead of Sunday’s game that he’s trying to make his own judgments on where Villar would be best.
“Maybe I give other teams too much credit,” Showalter said. “There’s a lot of smart people in the game, so when you see how many games he’s played at shortstop and how many games he’s played at third base, second base.
“I’m big on looking at the player’s history, because some good baseball people have looked at those things. Understand with Houston and Milwaukee, who they had playing shortstop. You see pretty good players there, so you keep that in mind, too. You want to see if the history matches up with what your eyes tell you.”
Villar has played a standout second base over the first two games of this series in Cleveland, and publicly available metrics have him performing at the highest level of his career at second base this season. With the Orioles still trying to get Beckham settled back at shortstop, Villar hasn’t gotten a chance to move too far up the defensive spectrum. He made an error in the seventh inning that ultimately went unpunished.
If he hits the way he has, with a .271/.348/.458 batting line and three home runs with the Orioles, his bat will be valuable everywhere. But as he gets more comfortable in his new setting, the Orioles are seeing some better glove work come, too.
“His clock has gotten better,” Showalter said. “When he first got here, he was excited about being here and getting a chance to play mostly everyday. He’s got some style to his game, and I want him to have that. That’s his personality. I think he’s kind of slowed down and, not calmed down, but kind of settled in. I think we’re going to get a pretty good feel for him before the season is over.”
Jones to return Monday
Showalter said center fielder Adam Jones was set to return to the team Monday in Toronto after going on the bereavement list Friday to attend a family funeral.
“I talked with him yesterday,” Showalter said. “His mom’s doing OK. It’s been a tough couple of days for him, so he’s flying to Toronto tonight.”
Showalter said he and executive vice president Dan Duquette haven’t discussed how the team would get Jones back on the roster. Outfielder Craig Gentry came off the disabled list to replace him.
Scott fans three in homecoming
Left-hander Tanner Scott pitched a perfect sixth inning and struck out all three batters he faced Sunday in front of friends and family who came to see him from his nearby hometown.
Scott, who went to Howland High School one hour east of Cleveland, missed the Orioles’ trip to Cleveland last September, but bounced back from a rough outing Tuesday against the New York Mets to lower his ERA to 6.39.
Around the horn
Outfielder Yusniel Díaz hit his third home run with Double-A Bowie Sunday, and is batting .300 in his past 10 games after a slow start since his trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers. … Alex Cobb’s complete game Saturday gave the Orioles two this season after Dylan Bundy pitched nine innings May 24 in Chicago, giving the Orioles multiple complete games for the first time since Kevin Gausman, Miguel González and Chris Tillman each pitched one in 2014. … Utility man Garabez Rosa hit a home run in each end of Triple-A Norfolk’s doubleheader Sunday. He has homered in each of his past three starts.