More patient Álvarez making impact
Designated hitter moves up to No. 2 in batting order, connects for 2-run homer
BOSTON – With Jonathan Schoop on the disabled list because of an oblique strain, Orioles manager Buck Showalter tweaked his lineup for Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, and among the adjustments he made was placing designated hitter Pedro Álvarez in the No. 2 spot in the batting order.
Álvarez responded, accounting for most of the Orioles’ offense in a 10-3 loss to Boston with a two-run homer off righthander Hector Velázquez in the fifth inning. With two hits Saturday, Álvarez is now 7-for-16 over his past eight games after opening the season hitless in his first seven at-bats.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Álvarez, who had more than 50 walks in a season just once in his first eight seasons in the majors, has drawn eight walks in 31 plate appearances this season for a .484 on-base percentage. Álvarez’s career on-base percentage entering this year was just .311.
Schoop typically bats third in the lineup, with Manny Machado ahead of him in the No. 2 spot. But with Schoop out, Machado dropped to No. 3 on Saturday. Schoop will likely miss at least the next two weeks, and could be out a month. Designated hitter Mark Trumbo is still recovering from a quadriceps muscle strain that forced him to open the season on the DL. So while the left-handed-hitting Álvarez doesn’t fit the typical No. 2 hitter mold, he could stick there against right-handed pitching if he keeps reaching base at this clip.
Showalter said he noticed Álvarez, 31, make strides last season while playing at Triple-A Norfolk, a patient approach that he carried into a late-season call-up in 2017 and now into 2018.
“It happened last year about maybe two-thirds to halfway through the season down below. He figured some things out,” Showalter said. “I remember telling you all that. The at-bats he was having last year when the season ended, letting the ball travel and real patient, spitting on a lot of things. This is a guy that led the National League in home runs and came up as a third baseman.
“I’m really happy for Pete because Pete did it the right way. A lot of guys wouldn’t have humbled themselves and gone through the things he’s gone through to get back here, and you love to see things that are happening for him right now. That was a lot of fun telling him that he made the club.”
Designated hitter Pedro Álvarez is congratulated by manager Buck Showalter after hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game at Fenway Park.