When LJ Hoes joined the Orioles last September after being called up, it was more a reward for a good season. He didn't play much, appearing in just two games getting one at-bat. But he returned to the Orioles today and this time he's here with a bigger role.
Officially recalled this morning from Triple-A Norfolk, Hoes was inserted right into today's lineup and will play left field and bat eighth against Boston's Jon Lester.
"Totally different from last year. Last year I was up here to learn stuff, but now I'm here and have an opportunity to play and contribute to the team," Hoes said this morning.
"It feels good. Just have to do whatever I can to help this team. Happy to be here and anxious to get started."
In 99 games with Norfolk, Hoes was batting .304 with 25 doubles, three homers, 40 RBIs, a .406 OBP and an .808 OPS. His average is .328 since June 1.
The 2012 O's Brooks Robinson Award winner as minor league Player of the Year, he did do some watching and learning after he was called up last Sept. 11.
"You know, I'm a fan of the game and have been an Orioles fan since I was a kid," he said. "Seeing the team last year, and then being here, I was around the guys and the coaches. Just being able to talk to guys like Chris Davis and Manny (Machado) and how they play and approach the game every day really helped me out this year."
What have been some keys to the strong year the 23-year-old Hoes was having at Triple-A?
"Just working hard and building off what I did last year," he said. "Being able to have someone like Adam (Jones) to talk to every day and being able to talk to Manny. These are two All-Stars and good friends. Plus, the coaching staff in Norfolk did a great job showing me what I need to do to get to the next level."
So he's here and excited to get a chance to help the Orioles. But getting here was not easy, travel-wise, as he explained.
"I found out yesterday about 2:30 (p.m. I was called up) and there was a 5:40 flight out of Rochester (where Norfolk was playing). I flew to Detroit, but when we got there we circled around due to thunderstorms," he said.
"We were running out of gas, so we went to Cleveland. Then we flew back to Detroit and I missed my connecting flight. So I flew out of Detroit and got here this morning around 9 o'clock."
Tired, but happy, today he'll play in his third major league game, making his first big league start.