Xavier Avery's phone has been busy since late last night. He's been hearing from a lot of family and friends after hitting his first major league homer in the eighth inning Friday against Cleveland.
"I got a lot of calls and texts. People have been tweeting me. I got a lot of calls from my family telling me congratulations," he said.
Avery drove the ball to the opposite field for his first major league homer.
"I'm not totally surprised because in BP, I try to work on going the other way," he said. "But home runs are unexpected for a leadoff guy like me. I don't go up there looking to hit home runs. My game is to get on base. That is what I want to do and let the sluggers behind me drive me in."
That is true, but Avery has been driving the ball with more pop than ever this year. After hitting four homers with a .343 slugging percentage in 557 at-bats at Double-A last season, this year at Norfolk he had six homers and was slugging .411 in 224 at-bats.
"My approach is getting better," Avery said of the increased pop in his bat. "I'm more disciplined and I'm smarter as a hitter mainly. Just getting experience and at-bats. When I went back down to the minors, I worked on hitting the ball the other way and most of my hits down there lately have been the other way."
Before he left Norfolk, Avery had been joined at Triple-A by L.J. Hoes and the Orioles had a pair of 22-year-old prospects in the Tides' outfield. Hoes currently has an 11-game hitting streak during which he is 19-for-39 with Norfolk.
"I got drafted with that guy and we've come up through the system together. He's been hot down there, hitting well," Avery said of Hoes.