WASHINGTON - Steve Wilkerson never will know whether he would have broken camp with the Orioles as their utility player if not for his 50-game suspension. He’s just glad that he made the most of a bad situation and is on the brink of his major league debut.
The Orioles purchased Wilkerson’s contract earlier today while designating Pedro Álvarez for assignment. They went from having one utility player early in the season to three, including Jace Peterson and Corban Joseph.
“This is a very special moment,” he said this afternoon while standing outside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. “Regardless of how my season started, I’m very happy and very fortunate to be here right now and I’m really looking to it.”
Wilkerson, 26, was batting .290/.362/.500 with four doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs in 62 at-bats with the Tides. He played shortstop, second base, third base, left field and right field.
“I think I can bring some versatility here,” he said. “I’ve gotten the opportunity to play multiple positions and that really started last year in Bowie and continued in Arizona and this year in Norfolk. And even when I was down in Florida, at the beginning of each week, I kind of laid out a plan so that by the end of the week I had gotten my position work in at every spot in the field, and with the support of the staff down there, I think I did a pretty good job of it.
“I think I bring some versatility and whatever’s asked of me to do, I’m looking forward to doing it.”
The former eighth-round pick in 2014 out of Clemson University is finally going to get the opportunity after testing positive for an amphetamine and receiving his suspension in December.
“It was a very difficult time,” he said. “The last few months of the offseason and spring training and the first few months of the season were difficult and I made the decision at that time to try to put my best foot forward and go about it in a way that I was continuing to prepare myself as best I could for when I got the opportunity to play.”
The promotion could have a short shelf life with Andrew Cashner coming off the disabled list on Wednesday. Or Wilkerson could remain here while the Orioles make a separate move. He isn’t worrying about trying to make an impression that extends his stay.
“I guess I’m not so much looking at it in that way,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to playing whatever role I can play here, whatever role I’m asked to play here and doing it to the best of my abilities.”
Wilkerson appeared in only 16 games with Norfolk before the Orioles summoned him to D.C. A suspension that crept along for him was followed by a stint with the Tides that went by in a blur.
“I think I spent 16 games in Norfolk and felt like I was only there for a few,” he said. “Before I know it, I’m walking into the clubhouse here and that’s really exciting.”
Orioles shortstop Manny Machado continues to rank first at his position in American League voting for the All-Star Game in D.C. And he remains the only member of the team whose name appears in the latest balloting update.
Machado has received 671,113 votes to lead the Astros’ Carlos Correa (458,367), who moved up from fourth to second.
Outfielder Adam Jones still hasn’t cracked the top 15.
José Abreu, White Sox (636,666)
Mitch Moreland, Red Sox (472,245)
Yuli Gurriel, Astros (368,863)
Albert Pujols, Angels (336,724)
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (333,130)
Jose Altuve, Astros (1,572,101)
Gleyber Torres, Yankees (534,758)
Dee Gordon, Mariners (244,488)
Jason Kipnis, Indians (156,347)
Jed Lowrie, Athletics (130,479)
Manny Machado, Orioles (671,133)
Carlos Correa, Astros (458,367)
Francisco Lindor, Indians (420,674)
Didi Gregorius, Yankees (413,135)
Jean Segura, Mariners (312,407)
José Ramírez, Indians (893,530)
Miguel Andújar, Yankees (509,188)
Alex Bregman, Astros (410,412)
Adrían Beltré, Rangers (249,080)
Mike Moustakas, Royals (231,363)
Wilson Ramos, Rays (678,159)
Gary Sánchez, Yankees (618,899)
Brian McCann, Astros (401,336)
Salvador Perez, Royals (344,915)
Yan Gomes, Indians (200,275)
J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (1,119,263)
Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (478,872)
Evan Gattis, Astros (363,362)
Shohei Ohtani, Angels (350,579)
Edwin Encarnacion, Indians (260,915)
Mookie Betts, Red Sox (1,568,417)
Mike Trout, Angels (1,323,292)
Aaron Judge, Yankees (1,061,370)
Michael Brantley, Indians (518,350)
George Springer, Astros (511,815)
Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox (509,780)
Brett Gardner, Yankees (330,970)
Marwin Gonzalez, Astros (300,694)
Mitch Haniger, Mariners (295,057)
Josh Reddick, Astros (278,332)
Nicholas Castellanos Tigers (256,889)
Eddie Rosario, Twins (248,451)
Aaron Hicks, Yankees (239,594)
Jackie Bradley Jr. Red Sox (237,937)
Ben Gamel, Mariners (151,097)
Here’s the Nationals lineup for tonight’s game:
Adam Eaton RF
Juan Soto LF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Bryce Harper CF
Daniel Murphy 1B
Trea Turner SS
Wilmer Difo 2B
Spencer Kieboom C
Jefry Rodriguez RHP