New O's slugger doubled off outfield wall in first spring at-bat
By Andrew Simon
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It didn't take long for Pedro Alvarez to show off the powerful bat that landed him a job with the Orioles.
Three days after signing with Baltimore as a free agent, the left-handed slugger made his debut in Sunday's 14-5 loss to the Twins at CenturyLink Sports Complex, going 1-for-3 while playing five innings at first base. In his first trip to the plate, he blasted a line drive off the right-center field wall, narrowly missing a home run but picking up a double that drove in former Vanderbilt teammate Ryan Flaherty.
"First and foremost, I'm just very excited and happy to be out there today, getting the opportunity to play," said Alvarez, who signed a one-year deal for $5.75 million. "When you can do something like that, it kind of puts icing on the cake a little bit, on top of things. I'm glad to get a couple of ABs and a couple of reps out there today."
Despite getting a late start on Spring Training and having only a few days in camp to prepare, Alvarez did not look rusty at the plate. He also made solid contact while grounding into a fielder's choice against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco in the third inning and while flying out to left field against lefty Fernando Abad in the fifth.
Over the past four seasons with the Pirates, Alvarez averaged 28 homers and 80 RBIs, while posting a .238/.310/.456 slash line. Perhaps because of his defensive struggles, he remained on the open market until the Orioles grabbed him on Thursday.
"He doesn't have to apologize for anything he's done in the past. He's been pretty good," O's manager Buck Showalter said before the game. "Not a lot of guys floating around hit 20-30 home runs every year. I mean, he played on good, competitive [Pirates] teams that were in the playoffs. He's got a lot to be proud of, and he's got a chance to be a real find of the offseason, the way I look at it."
A third baseman over his first five seasons, Alvarez had some difficulties with the glove and moved to first in 2015, where he committed 23 errors. While Baltimore has the luxury of the designated hitter spot, Showalter has stated the club plans to use him in the field. Alvarez was at first on Sunday, and Showalter said he also will see time at the hot corner.
That's fine with Alvarez, who wants to contribute with more than his bat.
"I came here with the intention of helping out in every facet, and I know that means playing the field, too, and that's what I want to do," Alvarez said. "Again, I'm extremely grateful for the opportunities I'm going to be given, and I'm thinking right along with Skip."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.