More pa­tient Ál­varez mak­ing im­pact

Des­ig­nated hit­ter moves up to No. 2 in bat­ting or­der, con­nects for 2-run homer

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Eduardo A. Encina

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.”

ADAM GLANZMAN/GETTY IM­AGES

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.

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