SARASOTA, Fla. - Dariel Álvarez no longer is resistant to making the switch from outfielder to pitcher. He’s embracing the idea with a surgically repaired elbow and a new attitude.
Álvarez is playing catch at minicamp, which wraps up later today, and said via translator Ramon Martinez that he’s scheduled to throw off a flat mound by the end of the month.
“I’ve been doing the rehabilitation and I feel pretty good so far,” said Álvarez, who had the procedure in April, was released and signed a minor league deal less than a week later.
Álvarez, 29, was participating in a throwing program at extended spring training before the Orioles shut him down with elbow soreness, and an MRI in Sarasota following an appointment with Dr. Brian Schofield confirmed the ligament tear.
“I never had any arm problems and it happened,” Álvarez said. “It just happened.”
And so soon after the Orioles convinced him that the clearest path back to the majors would come as a pitcher.
Álvarez made 22 relief appearances over three seasons in Cuba in 2006, 2007 and 2009. He was 1-4 with a 3.62 ERA in 32 1/3 innings, allowing only one home run, walking 12 and striking out 18.
The Orioles gave Álvarez an $800,000 bonus in July 2013 after he defected from Cuba. He’s 8-for-32 with a home run in 14 major league games and went 0-for-11 last spring.
Manager Buck Showalter wanted Álvarez to consider getting back on the mound. A compromise would have allowed him to serve as the designated hitter with Single-A Delmarva on the days that he wasn’t needed out of the bullpen.
“Right now, I’m not thinking about hitting or pitching, either,” he said. “I’m just kind of focused on getting my arm ready and getting back.”
Álvarez can talk to reliever Mychal Givens about the transition from position player to pitcher. He has a few resources at his disposal.
“It was my decision that I decided to make,” Álvarez said. “I get some advice from some people that are involved in baseball. I take advantage of the opportunity. Plus, I pitched before, so it’s not new for me. It was my own decision.
“I was kind of surprised last year. That’s why I had the reaction, now becoming a pitcher while thinking as a hitter. But after a while I took it in a positive way. It’s my chance to say, ‘OK, I think I’ll have a better chance to become a pitcher and a better chance to get to the major leagues.’ “