Spring Training Primer: Alvarez switches to pitching; Mancini keeps hitting; Gentry homers - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Spring Training Primer: Alvarez switches to pitching; Mancini keeps hitting; Gentry homers


What’s happening: The always inventive Buck Showalter is at it again. When he managed the Texas Rangers, Showalter convinced R.A. Dickey to try life as a knuckleballer, and it worked brilliantly. Now, Showalter is experimenting with 28-year-old Dariel Alvarez.

The Cuban defector, who signed with the Orioles for $800,000 in July 2013, is being converted from an outfielder into a pitcher, Showalter said Wednesday.

Alvarez, who batted .250 in 14 big-league games in 2015 and 2016, faced long odds in making the Orioles, especially after they recently added several veteran outfielders and selected two more in the Rule 5 draft.

With Alvarez, the Orioles will try to duplicate the success they had when they converted Mychal Givens from an offensively-challenged infielder to the mound.

“We’ve got a template with it with Mychal, so it’s very similar to that,” Showalter said.

Right-handed pitcher Logan Ondrusek had an MRI on his right elbow this week. Ondrusek missed time earlier in camp with a sprained ankle, and he’s only pitched twice.

“I feel snakebitten right now,” Ondrusek said. “The ankle was just a fluke deal, trying to avoid a collision and ended up hurting myself and missing time. And, as soon as I got better and am starting to feel really good … this happens.”

On Wednesday, the club optioned right-handed pitchers Parker Bridwell and Jason Garcia to Triple-A Norfolk and reassigned left-handed pitcher Jed Bradley and catcher Yermin Mercedes to minor league camp.

The Orioles have 51 players on their spring training roster.

What’s happened: Wade Miley pitched three scoreless innings Wednesday and Craig Gentry hit a three-run home run in the Orioles’ 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Miley, who allowed four runs in one-plus inning last Friday at Pittsburgh, left that game when he was hit by a line drive. He had no issues in this start.

“I feel like I threw the fastball the same way last time. Didn’t get a few calls. Put the ball in play a little more, obviously. I was happy with it,” Miley said.

Darren O’Day pitched a perfect fourth. Tyler Wilson allowed a three-run home run to Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel.

What’s up with: Trey Mancini. The rookie first baseman/designated hitter is batting .333 (7-for-21) this spring and has an uphill battle to make the Orioles.

Mancini hit three home runs in five games last September, and his brief time in the big leagues was important.

“It helped tremendously. It gives you confidence,” Mancini said. “In spring training, it’s a time to get ready for the season, but it’s also a very competitive environment and you also want to do well. Playing in major league games and being in that situation at that level, helps once you get to spring training.”

What they’re saying: “I don’t know if convincing is the word. We just laid it out. Here’s what we see. Here’s what we’re thinking, and what do you think? He’s got to embrace it. This is something that he’s wanted to do, but the big thing for him is that he didn’t want to leave the offensive part of it behind.”- Showalter on whether Alvarez was eager to make the transition to pitching.

What’s the number? 165 — That’s how many spring training at-bats Gentry had since he last homered in an exhibition game. His last home run came on March 10, 2013.

Gentry, who is competing for an outfield job, has only four home runs in 457 major league games. He’s played 40 big league games in the last two years.

“Today was the guy that shows why he’s been such a sought-after third and fourth outfielder over the years, when he’s healthy,” Showalter said. “The big thing is just staying on the field.”

What’s the record? 7-5-1 — The Orioles won their fourth straight Grapefruit League game. Their win over the Dominican Republic does not count in the Grapefruit League standings.

After the first of two scheduled off days, the Orioles will play the Boston Red Sox at Fort Myers on Friday night at 6:05 p.m.

Rich Dubroff covers the Orioles for PressBoxOnline.com. You can read his stories here.

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