Orioles' Hanser Alberto wants to write another success story; Defense is a priority for Renato Nunez - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Orioles’ Hanser Alberto wants to write another success story; Defense is a priority for Renato Nunez

Photo Credit; Joy R. Absalon

SARASOTA, Florida—As the last of the position players reported to camp on Sunday, Hanser Alberto settled into his locker. He was one of the Orioles’ few feel-good stories last season.

A year ago, Alberto was here for the early days of camp, then put on the waiver wire and snapped up by the San Francisco Giants. He was claimed back by the Orioles a week later.

Alberto not only made the Orioles but hit .305 while playing second and third base.

“I came more relaxed, but hungry to prove that I can do it again,” Alberto said. “Go out there and play hard and get a good result. I feel more comfortable now, but I’m not going to stop working hard because of that.”

Jonathan Villar, who was traded to Miami, played shortstop and second last season. His departure might mean that Alberto will play more at second than third. In 2019, Alberto started 67 games at second and 58 at third.

“The great thing about Hanser is he can play multiple spots,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think right now you’ll be seeing him mostly at second base, but you’ll be seeing him at third base also. I’m not going to limit him to one position.”

“I’m OK with switching positions,” Alberto said, “but second base is a little more comfortable. I don’t mind playing anywhere.”

Alberto was especially successful hitting against left-handers in 2019, batting .398. He hit.238 against right-handers.

“We try to do it again, but I have to make sure to try to swing at good pitches and see the ball good, and put a good swing on it, and see what happens,” he said.

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Villar was an impact player last year, batting .274 with 24 home runs, 40 steals and 111 runs scored. Alberto thinks the Orioles’ offense will be OK.

“We’ve got a pretty good offense,” Alberto said. “We can all do the little things. When you know what you have to do, you know what you have to focus on. We’re going to miss him, but we’ve got to move forward.”

Alberto wasn’t surprised that Villar was moved in his arbitration year.

“They have to pay a lot of money, and I don’t know if this rebuilding team will pay that much money,” Alberto said. “That brings more opportunity for those young guys to develop and see what the future can bring for this organization.”

Renato Nunez seeks improvement on defense

It was a breakout year for Renato Nunez in 2019. He hit .244 with 31 home runs and 90 RBIs.

“The season before I didn’t play much,” Nunez said. “To get a chance to play with the Orioles, it was amazing.”

Nunez’s big numbers were overlooked on a team that lost 108 games, but the 25-year-old believes the Orioles will be better in 2020.

“That’s got to be the mindset for everybody,” Nunez said. “To get better, to win more games.”

Nunez knows he needs to improve. Last season, he struck out 143 times in 151 games.

“I’ve still got to learn more about hitting,” Nunez said. “Be a little more selective, not swing at everything, have a little more of a plan.”

Nunez had 21 starts at first base and eight at third, but 110 games at designated hitter.

“Of course, I’d like to play more defense,” Nunez said. “I’ll be ready to play whatever position they want me to play.”

It’s important for Hyde that Nunez be a better defender.

“We’re going to do everything we can to work with Nunie on a daily basis,” Hyde said.

“You saw him taking ground balls out here today. We’re really going to focus on Nunie’s defense. We really like the improvement he made last year throughout the season. Where he came from in spring training was a night-and-day difference. We love the bat. He’s an offensive force and hope he can play defense for us.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. PA Bird Lover

    February 16, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Each day I get more excited. Regardless of W & L’s, it’s great baseball is back.

  2. NormOs

    February 16, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    Alberto really looks like a part of the REBUILD along with Means and,hopefully Hays, Harvey, and Santander. I’d like to include Mountcastle but he remains a phantom. I guess AAA MVP isn’t a sure thing when Elias is running things, too bad.

    • Phil770

      February 16, 2020 at 2:34 pm

      Mountcastle, along with Alberto and Nunez have to be able to play defense in the major leagues. Even without Davis, still have too many 1B/DH types. I’d rather have Mancini at 1B, Mountcastle at 3B and Smith/Stewart in the OF with Hays and Santander.

    • CalsPals

      February 16, 2020 at 2:58 pm

      Really we have no idea if Mountcastle can play defense in the majors since they’ve chosen to not give him that chance, I’d take his defensive liabilities & play him at 1/2 or OF over CD…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 16, 2020 at 3:03 pm

      Norm, if Alberto IS part of the long term rebuild …whenever that actually starts … we’re in trouble. Contenders simply don’t employ the Hansers of the world.

      But then again, if Manfred gets his way, everybody is going to be a contender.

      • Dave Gruber

        February 16, 2020 at 8:59 pm

        BRR, your comment “Contenders simply don’t employ the Hansers of the world” is what’s wrong with baseball now. Give me 9 Hansers, who hit .300 and don’t strike out against 9 prima donnas who wanna swing for the fences with an 0-2 count on them and the tying run at 3rd with 2 outs and I’ll like my chances any day.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          February 17, 2020 at 8:25 am

          Hear what you’re saying Mr. Gruber, it may well be what’s wrong with today’s game. I love the old “keep it alive for the next guy” style of game, but with today’s parks and power pitchers, that mentality simply isn’t employed any more. Besides, if you’re going to play small ball, you don’t want 9 Hansers with gloves in the field.

    • CalsPals

      February 16, 2020 at 3:47 pm

      Agree, not a fan of adding even more teams…October baseball is now November baseball…crazy…go O’s…

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