DENVER–Keon Broxton, who was acquired by the Orioles from the New York Mets on Wednesday, was batting sixth and playing center field on Friday night.
Broxton had been designated for assignment by the Mets, for whom he hit .143 in 34 games and traded for $500,000 in international bonus money.
He described his reaction to the move as “pure joy. I was excited just getting an opportunity to come out here and do what I love to do. I’m just ready to go. I can’t wait for tonight, for the game to start. Get back out there on the field and run around a little bit.”
In his first at-bat as an Oriole, Broxton hit a 474-foot home run to give Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the second inning. It was a good first impression.
Broxton is confident he can help the Orioles. “Steals, create some runs and just play good defense,” he said.
In 2017, Broxton hit 20 home runs for Milwaukee. In 2016 and 2017, he stole 46 bases.
Last season was a difficult one when he played 51 games for the Brewers, hitting .179 with four home runs and 11 RBIs and spent more time with Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he played 82 games, hitting .254 in 82 games. In January he was dealt to the Mets, where he had another disappointing experience.
“They’ve been, I don’t know how to describe it,” Broxton said. “It’s just kind of inconsistent, I guess. That’s the best way to put it. Been up and down, not playing too much. But in the big leagues it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, it’s always a lot of fun, so I can’t take anything away from those two years.”
The Orioles began the season with Cedric Mullins in center field. When he hit .094 in 22 games, he was sent to Triple-A Norfolk. Joey Rickard, who was optioned to the Tides when Broxton arrived, had a shot there, and so did Stevie Wilkerson, who played well at a new position.
“They want to give me extended at-bats, extended playing time, which is awesome,” Broxton said. “I think that’s going to do me wonders.”
Broxton knew he was going somewhere else besides the Mets, but the Orioles weren’t the first team on his mind as a possible destination.
“No, I didn’t know where I’d end up,” Broxton said. “I had no idea. I just wanted to go somewhere where there was a good opportunity and a good vibe, and this place looks like it’s right for me.”
Broxton, 29, believes he can play as well as he did two years ago.
“Oh yeah, 100 percent,” Broxton said. “I definitely think so. I think once I get into the swing of things, get into the flow of the game, I think it’s all going to come back and everything’s going to be perfect.”
Manager Brandon Hyde said he’s eager to use Broxton.
“He’s looking forward to the opportunity, and I’m excited to give it to him,” Hyde said. “I know that he’s looking forward to getting consistent at-bats, and the last couple of years he was disappointed in how he was utilized. He’s going to get an opportunity here. I know he’s going to try to make the most of it.”
It will help that Broxton already has friends here.
In high school, he was a teammate of Josh Lucas, played against Trey Mancini, and played with Jonathan Villar in Milwaukee.
Lucas told Broxton he would enjoy himself with the Orioles.
“He said it’s a good group of guys, everyone’s pretty laid-back and like to have a lot of fun while we’re out here,” Broxton said. “And there’s really nothing that’s holding us back from being a good team. He said, ‘You’re going to fit right in with these guys,’ and so far I have. I think everyone here is very nice and very open, and I feel like it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Straily goes to bullpen: Hyde said that Dan Straily, who has a 9.09 ERA ,will go to the bullpen starting on Saturday.
“Give him a breather,” Hyde said. “Not have to go out and try and give us six, seven innings … Go out to the ‘pen and try and give us some crispness out of his stuff, just be able [to go in] short spurts with him. Things go well, maybe get back in the rotation at some point. The right thing to do for him, for us, is to get in the bullpen for now.”
Straily’s spot in the rotation comes up Monday, and Hyde hasn’t decided on a starter. He said that someone on the team will get the start, and that he’ll announce it on Saturday.
Temporary coaches: Pitching coach Doug Brocail is away from the team on Friday to attend a graduation for his daughter, and bullpen coach John Wasdin will miss the weekend for graduations, too.
Minor league pitching coordinator Chris Holt will fill in as the pitching coach on Friday and in the bullpen Saturday and Sunday. Florida and Latin American pitching coordinator Dave Schmidt is in the bullpen on Friday.