SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles' 2012 winner of the Brooks Robinson Award, which goes to their minor league Player of the Year, is using spring training here at major league camp to do more than just "get his work in."
LJ Hoes is taking advantage of what he calls a "blessed opportunity" every day here at Ed Smith Stadium. Hoes has a locker between Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis. He has become close friends with Adam Jones.
He is taking time to pick their brains on a lot of things, things he hopes will get him somewhere they've already been - the major leagues. He watches and tries to learn.
"Just the way they go about their daily routines and how they get themselves mentally and physically prepared to play," Hoes said. "It's a long season, so how they take care of their bodies. The things they eat, how they preserve themselves. Talking with Adam a lot and he was telling me certain things you have to do throughout the season to play in 162 games. Just trying to apply that to myself.
"Those guys are successful big leaguers and that is what I want to be some day. So I'm trying to learn what they've done to get where they have gotten."
Hoes, who turned 23 on March 5, is 7-for-20 (.350) in spring training games with a double and two RBIs.
This is not his first time in the O's clubhouse. He was called up to majors last Sept. 11. He made his big league debut as a pinch runner Sept. 25 against Toronto and grounded out in his first and so far, only major league at-bat the next day.
There is a long list of outfielders here at camp and Hoes is aware he won't be breaking north with the team come opening day.
"Everyone wants to be here, but you can only have 25 guys," said Hoes, the club's 2008 third-round pick. "Wherever I go, I will work hard to make myself better to if one day comes that I do get that callup this year that I will be ready to contribute."
Hoes played at Double-A and Triple-A last season. He hit .300 in 82 games with Norfolk. If he had 32 more plate appearances, that would have been good enough to finish seventh in the International League.
He has always been a decent hitter for average and is hopeful to add more pop in his bat as he continues to mature as a player.
"You know people tell me, 'You are young, so just learn how to hit first. Get successful hitting for average and the power will come,' " Hoes said. "Once you get to 25 or 26, you learn your swing and how to take chances sometimes. You get in a 1-0 or 2-0 count and you know, instead of looking to hit the ball to right-center field, as I usually do, you change your sights and try to hit to left or left-center.
"It's just a maturing and growing process. I figure the power is going to come. This year, I've gotten stronger and am hitting some balls farther. Hopefully the season will continue to show that, but right now I am trying to hit for average."