The Orioles signed Steve Tolleson as a minor league free agent in November. After showing a hot bat in some recent games with Triple-A Norfolk, the 28-year-old was added to the O’s roster yesterday, and he figures to play in a utility role while here.
This will be his second time in the majors. In 25 games with Oakland in 2010, Tolleson hit .286 over 49 at-bats.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “I went up as a utility guy for Oakland, and I knew my role. I thought I did a really good job with the role. It’s hard to perform when you are playing once or twice a week, but I found a way to help the team win games. I embraced the role and mentally prepared for those opportunities. Little disappointed I didn’t continue with Oakland, but I’m excited to be here.”
Tolleson arrived in Baltimore just before game time yesterday only to see the contest rained out. With Norfolk, he was batting .265 with five doubles, a homer and 11 RBIs over 26 games.
“In Norfolk, I played pretty much all shortstop. My entire career I’ve played pretty much every position. When I was with the Twins, I played predominantly short and second and also left and center, and then with Oakland, I played all three infield and left and right. So I’ve got experience in the outfield and infield.
“I’ve had some significant time in the outfield. I probably played 25 games in left field last year between (Triple-A) Sacramento and (Triple-A) Tucson. I feel comfortable out there and work on shagging balls once or twice a week. It’s always part of my routine.”
Tolleson, the son of former big leaguer Wayne Tolleson, was drafted by the Twins in round five of 2005. He was claimed off waivers by Oakland on February 1, 2010 and then acquired by San Diego last May 29 for a player to be named later.
“They haven’t said (what my exact role is here). They just said be ready to play. I’m sure I’m here to serve as versatility off the bench. I know the team is banged up a little bit, and I may get some opportunities,” he said.
He seemed to make a solid impression on the O’s coaching staff during spring training, but then did not make the opening day roster and was sent to Norfolk to begin the season.
“I was dissapointed. I won’t say I was surprised. I came in as a non-roster player. Ryan Flaherty and Nick Johnson had great spring trainings. I felt I showed them what I needed to, and they told me that if a need would arise they would not be hesitant to call me up.”
Over his last six games with the Tides, Tolleson raised his batting average 71 points, going 10-for-21 with three doubles and five RBIs and with an OPS of 1.158 in that stretch.
“As a team we got off to a collective slow start. But I started swinging the bat well along with some other guys and hitting is contagious. Things are starting to turn around over there,” he said of the Tides.
Tolleson was batting .379 with Norfolk in 29 at-bats against left-handed pitching and hit .204 against right-handers.