SARASOTA, Fla. - Double-A Bowie outfielder LJ Hoes tripled off Greg Burke in the top of the eighth inning to score the tie-breaking run and give the visiting Orioles a 2-1 victory over the home Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.
“I knew we were going to win today. That’s for sure,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Cover the lockers in plastic and pop those champagne corks.
“It was very fun, just to get the jitters out and get out there and get active and get acclimated to playing baseball again,” said Hoes, who batted .305/.379/.413 with 17 doubles, six homers, 54 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 95 games with the Baysox last summer.
“I just wanted to go out there and play hard, and I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve having to be in big league camp. I want to go out there and work to get better day by day, no matter who’s watching. My thing is to go out there and make myself better as a player.”
Hoes played the outfield in high school, but the Orioles made him a second baseman after taking him in the third round of the 2008 draft. He switched to left field last season - 65 games with Bowie and 17 with Single-A Frederick - but also played right field, second base and third base. He started in left field today.
“I’ve been talking to John Stockstill and he’s been telling me to work in the infield because you never know when you might go back there, but right now I’m working out in left and right field, so I’ll be in the outfield,” he said. “I enjoy it. I just want to be on the field and help the team win, no matter where I’m at. I just want to be out there.”
Hoes and Bowie teammates Xavier Avery and Joe Mahoney played the entire game today.
“They’re young and bulletproof,” Showalter said.
Mark Reynolds made two outstanding plays at third base, charging one ball and diving to his left to smother another one. He’s back on the hot corner after committing 26 errors there last season and eventually moving to first.
“It’s been a point of emphasis for Mark, from his perspective as much as anything,” Showalter said. “It’s been early sessions and extra work since the day he walked in here. We wanted to see if he initiated it before we went there, and he initiated it. It’s something that’s important to him and I think he’s going to be improved there.”
Reynolds is about 17 pounds lighter this spring. We can only guess whether the weight loss is making a difference.
That might have been the case on the slow roller that he charged to retire Avery, who can motor up the line.
“I’m not sure he would have been able to do that as athletically as he did today,” Showalter said. “You like to see a guy get a return right out of the chute for the work he’s put in.”
If you need one more injury update, Tsuyoshi Wada played catch again today and watched part of the intrasquad game from the stands. Willie Eyre is “real close to rejoining us,” Showalter said, and Jason Berken is “making some strides.”