Steve Pearce was drafted in round eighth by Pittsburgh in 2005 and that was the only organization he knew between the 2005 and 2011 seasons.
But he moved this year to the Yankees organization and was batting .321 with 15 doubles, 11 home runs, 30 RBIS and a .996 OPS in 52 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when some things changed last weekend.
He could have opted out of his contract a week ago today and did, fully prepared to find a job with another team. But then the Orioles acquired him from New York for cash Saturday and a day later he was in their starting lineup in St. Petersburg Fla., against Tampa Bay, playing less than an hour from his home in Lakeland, Fla.
Today, Pearce said he was surprised he landed here with the Orioles. But he didn’t see much of a future for himself with the Yankees and when he had the chance to opt out of his deal there, he did.
“I took it. It was just one of those things. I was playing really well and the Yankees were stocked with talent. I just wanted to see what else was out there. I was very fortunate that the Orioles called and gave me a big league job,” Pearce said.
When he decided to leave the New York organization behind, he did so without being certain of where his next team would be.
“I didn’t have any hint of anything but felt I was playing very well down there and had a gut feeling that someone would pick me up,” he said.
Pearce made a big league opening day roster for the first time last season with Pittsburgh. In 185 major league games over five seasons (2007-11) with the Pirates, he batted .232 with 29 doubles, three triples, nine home runs and 52 RBIs.
Then he came out this year and put up big numbers in the International League.
“Not trying to do too much,” Pearce said of his success this season. “Just trying to keep things as simple as possible at the plate. Not trying to hit a homer every time or pull everything. It seems like the power was still there when I was keeping it simple, so I just tried to keep that same approach.”
Now Pearce looks forward to a fresh start to his career at 29 here in Baltimore. Maybe it will be better late than never for him.
“You know, we had a guy a couple of years ago that came to our place (in Pittsburgh) in a similar situation, Garrett Jones. I always wanted to kind of have a shot like he did. He was a good player with the Twins, but came to the Pirates with a fresh set of eyes on him. When he came to Pittsburgh, he got a shot and played well. When I saw that I felt in my heart that maybe I needed a change of scenery because I wasn’t getting a full shot over there,” he said.
When he walked into the Orioles clubhouse today, it was the first time Pearce has ever been at Camden Yards. Now he wants to stick around a while in this organization and find a permanent home for his big league career.