With Alvarez signing, slugger likely to be primary right fielder
By Andrew Simon
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Early in his first Spring Training with the Orioles, Mark Trumbo already was doing some defensive work in the outfield. But when Baltimore signed Pedro Alvarez on Thursday, that work intensified.
Alvarez's presence as a regular designated hitter shifts Trumbo's primary position to right field -- where he started in Saturday's 8-1 win over the Twins. He also could see time in left, as well as at first base and DH. While Trumbo has experience as an outfielder, he doesn't carry a reputation as a defensive asset there, so he and coach Wayne Kirby have been meeting early for one-on-one tutoring sessions.
"I've been an outfielder all my life, but some of these guys haven't, so it's [learning] tricks of the trade," said Kirby, who played in eight Major League seasons.
Trumbo focused on first base in the Minors and has spent the majority of his big league time there, though he has made 245 starts in the outfield, including 82 last year for Arizona and Seattle.
The six-year veteran said that while an infielder must react more quickly to the ball, it's more important for an outfielder to get the correct read. That has been a point of emphasis during his sessions with Kirby.
"I've been working on my breaks," Trumbo said. "It's kind of the initial reads on the ball. He's got some things he thought might help me."
Kirby has been drilling Trumbo on the six movements he says an outfielder must make. They have practiced his angles to the ball, on both line drives and fly balls, as well as dealing with the wind and sun.
Beyond that, the coach wants his pupil to have faith in his abilities.
"It's always a challenge to put the positive thought in a player and realize, 'Don't worry about nothing,'" Kirby said. "You can go out there and play every day."
During Trumbo's career, advanced metrics have not looked upon his defensive performance favorably. Defensive Runs Saved puts him at 12 runs below average overall, while Ultimate Zone Rating has him at -13.4.
"I think for me, the emphasis is always on making the routine plays, hitting the cutoff man, all the things that you need to do fundamentally," Trumbo said. "I may not make all the web gem catches that you see some other guys do, but at least the plays that need to be made, that's what I take a lot of pride in."
Kirby said he has seen some of his lessons take hold already. On one ball that went for a home run, Trumbo pulled off a well-executed drop step, read the ball off the bat and took off after it. On Thursday against the Yankees, he came in on a Chris Parmelee line drive and made a sliding catch.
"I'm behind him 100 percent and I know he can play the outfield," Kirby said. "I don't think about what people say or how they perceive him. Every day I'm getting more comfortable, more confident that when the ball goes up, I don't have to worry about it."
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.