A man who is frequently a late arrival in Orioles camp, slugger Pedro Álvarez feels the fact that he got nearly a full spring training this year will only help his case to force the Orioles' hand and make him a full-time major leaguer again.
Álvarez, who is in camp on a minor league deal without a contract out at the end of spring training, is vying for a bench spot and could end up seeing his chances boosted by the looming absence of designated hitter Mark Trumbo, who has a quadriceps strain.
"To get almost a full spring training in, that's a little more ideal," Álvarez said. "To get the at-bats and get the reps in before the season, obviously it's important. ... You see more game-like pitches. It's just more information that you're being able to put into the memory bank. I just think it'll make the transition into the season better. There's nothing like experience and repetition and game-like reps. It can only be beneficial."
Álvarez, who hit .249 with an .846 OPS and 22 home runs as a platoon designated hitter with the Orioles in 2016, returned on a minor league deal and attempted to learn right field to make himself more versatile for a future major league job.
That was ultimately abandoned, and after he hit 26 home runs at Triple-A Norfolk, he was called up in September and hit .313 with a home run. Manager Buck Showalter has said all spring how surprised the Orioles were that Álvarez was still available to return on a minor league deal this year, and he's hit .238 with a home run in the Grapefruit League.
Trumbo's injury creates a bench spot for someone of the group of Álvarez, Danny Valencia, Craig Gentry or Alex Presley, and the team is also looking outside the organization to fill that role. Especially in this market, power hitters who signed minor league deals and have opt-outs can be found.
Álvarez believes there's a chance for him to fill a meaningful role this year, though.
"Every year could be different, so obviously, whether it's here or any of the other 29 teams, I always personally think that I have a shot of making the team because of my abilities to play this game" Álvarez said. "At the end of the day, it's all up to how the cards unfold and we'll see what their decision is.
"Those are things that are out of my hands, whatever the situation is, At the end of the day, roster decisions are out of my hands. Those aren't things I can focus on. I just try to come out here every day and show what I can do and get better. Obviously, I want to play up here but those are things that you can't focus on because at the end of the day, they're out of my control. We'll just see what happens."