Orioles slugger looks to build on breakout 2014, continues torrid spring with fourth homer
By Andrew Simon
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Steve Pearce enjoyed a breakout 2014 season, but he feels like he still has something to prove this spring.
Pearce ripped a three-run homer in the Orioles' 5-3 win over the Twins on Saturday afternoon at Hammond Stadium, going deep for the fourth time in his last five games. He entered the day tied for third in homers this spring, behind only the Cubs' Kris Bryant and the Mets' Michael Cuddyer, and he called getting off to a good start this year "very important."
"I don't want people to think it was a fluke," Pearce said. "I know I can play."
Pearce, who turns 32 next month, had played parts of seven big league seasons for the Pirates and Orioles before finally establishing himself during Baltimore's American League East title run. He hit .293/.373/.556 with 21 homers and 49 RBIs in 102 games.
This year is different for Pearce. Instead of fighting for a spot on the roster, he knows he has a job. But that doesn't mean he is approaching things any differently.
"You call them exhibition games because you want to exhibit things that make people confident in your ability to contribute," manager Buck Showalter said. "Steve, he's got a little track record with us now, so it allows him to have some bumps in the road, but he doesn't look at it that way. He doesn't take anything for granted. That's why we like him so much."
Pearce has picked up a hit in nine of his 10 Grapefruit League games. His power barrage began last Saturday against the Rays, and he homered in three straight starts.
After taking an 0-for-3 in his last game on Wednesday, Pearce was back at it again on Saturday. With two runners aboard in the second inning, he broke a 1-1 tie by pummeling a high pitch from Twins left-hander Tommy Milone over the left-center-field wall.
After his 1-for-4 day, Pearce is now 11-for-31 (.355) this spring, with eight RBIs.
"I'm not happy with bad at-bats," Pearce said. "I don't care what time of year it is. I'm always trying to get better. I have a plan at the plate and I want to get consistent at-bats so I can take it into the season."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.