De Aza talks about joining O’s (plus clubhouse quotes after 12-8 win)

Well, he did miss his first flight and didn’t arrive until the fourth inning, but new O’s outfielder Alejandro De Aza is now settling into the Orioles clubhouse.

He talked briefly with reporters after today’s game.

de-aza-white-sox-sidebar.jpg“I did miss my first flight, but I’m happy to be here. Glad to be here,” he said. “It’s great, at the same time I get to know a lot of people there. This is part of the business. One day you’re here, another day you can be somewhere else.”

De Aza was asked about jumping right into a pennant race and what he thinks he can bring to the Orioles.

“I am pretty excited,” he said. “I’m just here to help the team win. Can’t describe what I can do, but what I am saying is I’m here to win.”

Has today been a bit nerve-wracking for him?

“Like I said, I missed the flight. Once I missed the flight I knew I was going to be late,” he said. “So I just called and let them know I was going to be late.”

The 30-year-old left-handed hitter can play all three outfield positions. In 122 games this season, he is batting .243 with 19 doubles, five triples, five homers and 31 RBIs. He has 15 steals in 22 attempts.

Batting .300 over his last 23 games, De Aza was asked about being wanted by a first-place team.

“Yes it is exciting and I’m glad to be here and glad to be part of this team,” he said.

De Aza, who said he knew Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez and Jonathan Schoop before he got here, said he doesn’t need any time to settle in.

“No, I’m ready. I’m ready,” he said.

As for today’s game, Wei-Yin Chen gave up four runs over 6 2/3 innings to improve to 14-4 in the 12-8 win over the Twins. He is the first Orioles lefty to win 14 or more since Erik Bedard won 15 in 2006.

He was asked about getting deep into the game and being 10 games over .500.

“In the past, I tried to pitch more innings,” Chen said through his interpreter. “Now I made a change not to think about that anymore. I just try to pitch more efficiently and get outs with fewer pitches.

“I never thought I could get this many wins. Have to thank my teammates.”

Caleb Joseph had a career-high four hits today, but when asked to talk about the Orioles scoring 12 runs, he changed the topic.

“I’m here to play defense,” Joseph said. “I’m kind of angry that we gave up eight runs today. I could care less whether I get four hits or not.

“We gave up eight runs and kind of gave them a chance to somewhat get back in it. That makes me angry, so have to get back to the drawing board and figure out how to keep the runs down.

“It was a good thing our offense kept the pedal to the metal. We had a lot of good at-bats today and clutch hits. Everybody really pitched in.”

J.J. Hardy hit his fourth career grand slam, his fifth homer in his last 18 games. Hardy hit three homers in 328 at-bats before the All-Star break and now has six in 140 at-bats since the break.

So what is the difference? Did he make any adjustments?

“No. Seeing the ball better. Not missing pitches when I get them,” he said. “You take away those first 200 and I don’t know how many at-bats I had before hitting a homer. But yeah, I feel much better since those ABs. ... It’s fun when everybody is contributing and helping the team.”

The Orioles have opened a nine-game lead atop the American League East, but Hardy said he is not looking too far down the road right now.

“I don’t know if it’s hard not to (look ahead). I don’t think we’re going to,” he said. “We understand we have to win ballgames and we can’t worry about what everyone else is doing.”

Hardy’s answer when asked if he thought about the chance to hit a second grand slam was not a surprise. An inning after his slam, he came up with the bases loaded again, but he struck out in the seventh.

“Of course, yeah,” he said. “Of course I did.”

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