NEW YORK—As the Orioles made trims to their roster during spring training, Hanser Alberto stayed. Eventually, he headed north with the team.
The 26-year-old infielder was acquired on waivers from the Yankees on January 11, then was lost on waivers on February 22 to the San Francisco Giants when the Orioles claimed left-hander Josh Osich.
A week later, the Orioles reclaimed Alberto from the Giants.
“When they picked me back, that told me something,” Alberto said.
Not only did Alberto outlast several other utility players with major league experience who were in camp, he also outlasted Osich, who was designated for assignment when the Orioles needed a roster spot for outfielder Dwight Smith Jr.
Alberto beat out Christopher Bostick, Jace Peterson, Jack Reinheimer, Zach Vincej and Stevie Wilkerson, all with major league experience, and none currently on the 40-man roster.
“Every time you step on the field, you play hard, and I think that’s the most important thing,” Alberto said. They know I was working really hard to do my best, and they decided to keep me on the team.”
Alberto has played each of the four infield positions in his major league career. Before coming to Baltimore, Alberto played 89 games for Texas in 2015, 2016 and 2018. He singled as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Thursday’s Opening Day game.
“I think he’s got great intangibles. He’s an unbelievable teammate, really good with younger guys,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
“He’s got the ability to play multiple positions, especially short. I felt like he was the best fit for the roster because of his ability to play short as well as second and third very well and give you a pro at-bat like he did the other [day].”
As players disappeared from the camp roster, Alberto remained confident.
“I never get nervous,” Alberto said. “I go out there and do my job, and they make the decision. I control myself, I challenge myself every day. I try to do my best, and they do what they have to do.”
The Orioles have 12 pitchers and a four-man bench. A roster decision must be made before Thursday’s home opener when Alex Cobb is scheduled to be activated from the 10-day disabled list. As a result, Alberto’s time with the Orioles could be short. He has no options remaining and would have to pass through waivers.
“I think, ideally, you’d like to have a four-man bench because it creates flexibility, but you don’t want to leave yourself short on the mound,” Hyde said.
“We don’t want to be short when it comes to an innings standpoint. Because we have two off-days in the first eight days. If we didn’t, we’d have one more pitcher. How it went the other [day] when I’m pinch-hitting for guys late, and utilizing my bench, that’s going to happen throughout the whole year. I want everybody to play. I want everybody to be ready to play. A lot of these guys play better when there’s a chance they’re going to get in.”
Alberto hopes his time with the Orioles is an extended one.
“I enjoy the moment here, and when I get a chance to play, I do my job, and let things happen,” Alberto said. “ I don’t know what’s next. I just control what I can control.”