Westburg's working to make his 2nd Oriole season better than his 1st - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Westburg’s working to make his 2nd Oriole season better than his 1st

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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It’s hard to characterize Jordan Westburg’s first year with the Orioles. He wasn’t nearly as hyped as Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez or Adley Rutschman, all top prospects who debuted in 2022 and 2023. Westburg’s numbers don’t stand out, but it would be difficult to say last season was a disappointment.

Westburg, who was the 30th overall pick in the 2020 draft, hit .260 with three home runs and 23 RBIs in 68 games for the Orioles after his June recall.

In the 67 games before his recall, Westburg hit .295 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs.

Westburg started 35 games at second base and 18 at third, committing just one error.

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So, how would Westburg, who’ll turn 25 on February 18th, describe his rookie season?

“I liked the experiences,” he said at last month’s Birdland Caravan. “I liked playing on a winning ballclub, getting to make a playoff push and get some playoff experiences. Being in the clubhouse with some vet guys and some guys alike was awesome. I learned a ton, and I’m looking forward to learning again this year.”

Teams asked about Westburg in trade talks, and he’s still with the Orioles. As he enters a spring training where he’s assured of a job, he doesn’t want to think that way.

“I’m not treating it any different. I still think I’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “I’ll probably be in a pretty similar situation in this spring training. Try not to treat it different, try to focus on how I can get better, how I can clean some things up in my game and contribute to this team.

“I don’t think I solidified anything in my role. I’d love to win a job. I’d love to be the starting second baseman, third baseman, whatever. I don’t really care where I play. I realize this team’s dynamic is one of versatility and where we have a lot of athletic guys who can do a lot of different things.”

With Henderson and perhaps Jackson Holliday playing some second, Westburg is likely to move around the field, and he’s even prepared to play outfield.

“I don’t really care where I play,” he said. “I want to be ready to play all nine positions if I have to. Wherever the cards fall, I’m going to make sure I’m ready to play that position.”

Westburg could play more at third base, especially if Holliday is playing, at least some of the time, at second base, with Henderson at shortstop.

“Defensively at third base, I need some work, so I’d like to clean up some actions there,” he said. “In the box, I felt at times I was really inconsistent … I did think that I [did] some things in Triple-A that I didn’t really replicate here in the big leagues.”

Westburg didn’t hit for power. Three home runs in 68 games wasn’t nearly enough.

“I know I have power. I know I can hit for power,” Westburg said. “It didn’t show itself last year. There’s times when I was worried about it. There are times when I wasn’t worried about it. This [Camden Yards] is a big ballpark for a right-handed hitter. I understand that power numbers to the left side of the field are going to be skewed a little bit, but I’m just going to continue to work on my approach.

“The power will come as my approach continues to evolve and as I get more comfortable in the box here in the big leagues. I trust that it will come, maybe not replicate what I did in Triple-A, but we’ll see what I can do.”

In the offseason, Westburg has worked to adjust to the speed of the big leagues.

“I’m trying to face as much velocity as I possibly can,” he said. “That was the biggest jump for me, I thought in any level of the minor leagues to the big leagues is that everybody throws harder. As much velocity as I can see, I want to expose myself to and hopefully improve on that part of my game this year.”

Holliday, Coby Mayo and Connor Norby, who each play the infield, will be with the Orioles in spring training again this year, and Westburg welcomes the competition.

“They’re pushing us,” he said. “I was moved really quickly up the farm system. I feel very lucky and blessed to have that opportunity to move up quick. You have a lot of opportunity to learn and learn quickly.

“Being around good players, being pushed, being challenged on a daily basis is only going to help players. It might weed them out. That’s the nature of the game of baseball. Not everybody makes it. It stinks. There’s a lot of young talent here, knocking at the door, champing at the bit to prove themselves and win a spot and help this ballclub.”

Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions right before spring training. Please email yours to: [email protected]

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