Orioles manager Buck Showalter has joked with rookie outfielder Xavier Avery about the frequent-flyer miles he must be logging while he’s shuffled between Triple-A Norfolk and the big leagues.
In Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Mariners in Seattle on Tuesday night, Avery began his third stint with the Orioles this season -- he was recalled when the club placed second baseman Brian Roberts on the DL with a groin strain -- and like the previous two, he was an immediate contributor.
A day that began with a 6 a.m. cross-country flight ended with Avery’s first three-hit game of his big-league career.
“A good day,” Avery smiled. “A long day, but a good day.”
After Avery’s first stint -- a 16-day stretch in May -- he was sent down to work on hitting offspeed pitches the other way.
“I saw how guys were pitching me,” Avery said. “So when I went down to Norfolk I focused on hitting the ball the other way. It’s starting to show. When I was down there I hit a lot of balls the other way. That’s mainly what I started to work on more.”
When atop the Orioles batting order, Avery’s speed has given the club a boost. And Tuesday was no different. Mariners starter Felix Hernandez was grooving until Avery led off the sixth with a single, starting the team’s four-run inning.
“Before I went up there, I was just thinking, 'I want to get him in the stretch. I want to make him uncomfortable,'” Avery said. “Those first couple of innings, he looked like he was easy breezy up there. He was cool. I was like, ‘Alright, let’s make him sweat a bit.' Mainly, I went up there that time and wanted to get him out of the stretch and get him thinking about me over there. Fortunately he left some balls where he could hit them.”
Avery obviously doesn’t know how long he will be up this time -- outfielders Nick Markakis and Endy Chavez are due to come off the DL right after the All-Star break -- but he will make the best of his chance.
“With all this stuff happening, there’s nothing set in stone,” Avery said. “I don’t know what’s destined for me. I’d love to stay up here, but I couldn’t tell you if I’m going to stay here or not. I could be down tomorrow or up today. I don’t know. While I’m here, I’m going to play as hard as I can.”Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times