Orioles' L.J. Hoes ready to contribute right away

Hoes will start in left field and bat eighth against Boston on Sunday

July 28, 2013|By Daniel Gallen | The Baltimore Sun

It took L.J. Hoes a roundabout way to get to from Triple-A Norfolk to Baltimore this weekend, but the outfielder eventually made it to the Orioles to make his first major league start.

Hoes left Rochester, N.Y., on Saturday evening with the goal to make it to Baltimore that night. But as his flight approached Detroit, thunderstorms forced the plane to circle, and it was diverted to Cleveland as it ran low on fuel. By the time Hoes made it to Detroit, his flight to Baltimore had left without him, so he had to spend the night there before flying to Baltimore on Sunday morning. He arrived around 9 a.m.

Though Hoes went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his first major league action since September, manager Buck Showalter thinks the 23-year-old can provide a boost to the Orioles.

“He’s our best option as a right-handed hitting outfielder, or, really, period, as anyone down there,” Showalter said. “He’s been very consistent. He’s a name that [Norfolk manager Ron Johnson] and those guys, [director of player development] Brian Graham, always mention. You see the walk totals, the strikeout totals. Consistent approach and average.”

Hoes had more walks (58) than strikeouts (56) for the Tides and was batting .304 with a .406 on-base percentage. Against left-handers, he had a .442 on-base percentage.

With the Orioles in the midst of a postseason run last fall, Hoes appeared in two games and had only one at-bat in September. The stakes are high again this year, but after a month of waiting and watching in 2012, Hoes will be expected to have a role on this year’s squad.

“Totally different than last year,” Hoes said. “I was … talking to my mom and my dad [Saturday] saying last year I was coming up here to learn and stuff like that. Now I’m up here to actually have a chance to play and stuff like that and contribute to the team.”

Hoes gives the Orioles roster flexibility, as he can be optioned back to Norfolk if the Orioles need to make a move for pitching depth. He also provides a right-handed bat to spell left fielder Nate McLouth or Henry Urrutia, who has seen the majority of his time at designated hitter, against left-handed pitching.

“He’s one of those guys that grows on you,” Showalter said. “I think [Johnson] said when he first saw him and was around him last year, he didn’t exactly jump out, but he said the more you have him, the more you’re around him, you realize how hard it is to do what he does day in and day out. He’s been consistent.”

Asencio designated for assignment

The Orioles designated for assignment Jairo Asencio as the corresponding roster move for Hoes.

Asencio pitched 2 1/3 innings over four games for the Orioles, allowing two runs for a 7.71 ERA. He pitched one inning in Friday night’s loss to the Red Sox, allowing a home run to outfielder Shane Victorino and striking out designated hitter David Ortiz, which led to the slugger’s phone case-breaking outburst in the visitor’s dugout.

“He can’t really lose,” Showalter said. “He’s either going to be traded, he’s going to be picked up on waivers and put in the big leagues. He’s either going to be signed with somebody. We hope for our sake that everything clears and he’s in Norfolk as an option for us.”

Asencio was originally called up by the Orioles on July 12. Before that, he had worked 34 games with Triple-A Norfolk, primarily as the Tides’ closer. He was 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA and 20 saves in 37 2/3 innings.

Asencio is 30 years old and has had previous major league stints with Atlanta, Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs.

Davis’ strikeouts

The strikeouts continued for first baseman Chris Davis on Sunday, as he struck out three more times in the Orioles’ 5-0 loss to Boston. On the day, Davis was 0-for-4 and reached on an error in the sixth inning.

His first-inning whiff on a 2-2 sinker marked the 22nd consecutive game in which he’d struck out, which broke the Orioles’ record of 21 set by Mark Reynolds last season. It’s also the longest active streak in the majors and tied with Detroit’s Austin Jackson for the longest streak this year.

In the 22-game stretch, Davis has struck out 39 times in 81 at-bats while walking five times and hitting six home runs. His average has dipped from .331 on July 3 to .304 following the loss, and he has 130 strikeouts on the year.

Reynolds struck out in each of the Orioles’ games from April 7 through May 5 last season. In 71 at-bats, opposing pitchers set him down 33 times, and he hit .183 with two home runs during that stretch. He struck out 159 times in 2012.

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