At age 30, Orioles outfielder Alejandro De Aza's feeling young again

  • Alejandro De Aza hits a triple to score Ryan Flaherty during the fourth inning against the Yankees on Friday night.
Alejandro De Aza hits a triple to score Ryan Flaherty during… (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore…)
September 13, 2014|By Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

Eight games is not a large sample size, so we can’t go overboard with this. It’s possible that by the time the postseason rolls around, Alejandro De Aza will have fallen back to earth and to mere mortal numbers as an Oriole.

But for now, De Aza, the left-handed-hitting outfielder the Orioles acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 30, has exceeded all expectations. Perhaps more importantly, he has been exactly what the Orioles were missing: a left-handed-hitting outfielder who can get on base consistently and do some damage once he’s there.

De Aza has played in eight games for the Orioles and has at least a hit in each one. He has two homers, two triples both in Friday’s nightcap, a 5-0 win over the New York Yankees  and a double while batting .394/.459/.727.

“I feel young again. I feel 20 again,” De Aza, 30, said. “I’m just having fun with these guys. I came here, it’s like I was here forever, since day one. They all treated we well. It’s a great clubhouse. All my teammates, we goof around. I like it.”

De Aza on Friday became the first Oriole to triple twice in one game since Jay Payton on Sept. 28, 2007. He’s also the first player to hit in at least eight straight to begin his Orioles career since Eric Byrnes in 2005. (The club record is 15, by David Newhan in 2004.)

The Orioles gave up two High-A Frederick pitchers to get De Aza in a trade that slipped completely under the radar last month. He was hitting just .243 with five homers and 15 steals in 122 games with the White Sox this season. But Orioles scouts obviously saw enough of De Aza to think he could play as he did in 2013, when he batted .264 with 17 homers and 20 steals, or in 2012, when he hit .281 and had 26 steals.

It didn’t hurt that Orioles minor league hitting coordinator Jeff Manto was De Aza’s hitting coach with the White Sox for four years. The Orioles had a sense that they knew what they were getting.

“You never really know,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He's had his success in the big leagues [in Chicago]. Anytime you kind of change atmosphere, so to speak, you're never 100 percent sure. But we talked to a lot of people, Jeff Manto, his hitting coach last year. We felt like we had a good chance to get lucky with him and we have so far.”

And De Aza, who never has appeared in the postseason, said he’s having a blast right now.

“Yes, but I’m not going to just sleep on that,” De Aza said. “We have to try to stay in first place.”

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