Could we be witnessing the blossoming of Robert Andino? Coming into Wednesday's game, he reached base safely in nine of his last 10 plate appearances. Manager Buck Showalter praised the soon-to-be 27-year-old for stellar defense and smarter at-bats. Oh, by the way - he made SportsCenter's "Top 10 Plays" Tuesday night.
Ok, unless he starts paying me 10 percent of his salary, I'm done the hype.
Let's be real. Andino probably isn't threatening J.J. Hardy's starting gig as the Orioles short stop when he comes off the disabled list. Andino is, however, starting to show he could be a contributor to a ball club and that's something the 27-year-old has struggled to do over parts of seven major league seasons.
Part of the problem was the utility infielder didn't know what it was like to have the backing of a manager until Buck Showalter was hired. His respect for Showalter, I believe, has something to do with his modest success this season.
Known for wearing his oversized hat sideways, Andino also had a reputation for being a bit of a hot head. At least that's the perception that followed the second-round draft pick from the Marlins in 2009. From an outsider looking in, it appeared the Dave Trembley regime was never interested in getting to know the real Andino.
In all fairness Andino probably had no interest in bonding with the old school manager either.
Sometimes when low expectations are put on people, they live up to them - or down to them. Andino will admit - he often did just that.
According to Andino, it took just one line from Showalter to win his respect.
"I've heard you can be misunderstood," said Showalter.
Andino told me that went a long way. Those few words it let Andino know he had a clean slate.
Not to make Andino sound like some hard knocks hoodlum who just needed love. He's far from that. Knowing Andino for three years, I'd say he is misunderstood. He can have an attitude problem. He will shut out people he believes judge him. It's just who he is.
I will also say he's full of heart. He appreciates where he is, and he's the player who on long trips proudly shows me pictures of his two young boys. He makes no qualms about the fact he's a "softie" for his kids.
According to Showalter Andino is now taking the "emotion" out of his at bats - meaning better plate discipline. Hitting coach Jim Pressley who coached Andino while a member of the Marlins has told reporters he sees a "maturity" in the infielder.
It doesn't take a genius to read between the lines---the comments allude to the type of player Andino was or at least the reputation he had.
Andino has worked hard to shed his reputation this season. To Showalter and his coach's credit, they've worked hard to give him a chance.