After producing seven hits in 17 at-bats for a .412 batting average in his first major league spring training camp, Orioles’ first base prospect Joe Mahoney seems to have made the most of his initial chance to play for the Birds.
“It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot,” Mahoney said last night. “I was fortunate enough to play well and hopefully make a good first impression with both the coaching staff and management.”
“I think he’s primed to have that year that’s similar to last year and maybe even better,” O’s manager Buck Showalter said Monday as Mahoney was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk and moved over to the O’s Twin Lakes minor league camp.
“I hope that they saw, not just what I did during the games but my work ethic and stuff like that which I pride myself on. I know they pay attention to that in addition to what you do during the games,” Mahoney added.
Mahoney hit .412 with three RBIs, two doubles, a triple, a stolen base and a .647 slugging percentage in exhibition play.
“Tell you the truth, I thought it might be more nerve-racking than it was,” Mahoney said. “The guys were good in making me feel welcome. Once the games started, it was like any other game and I was surprisingly pretty comfortable. It’s still the same game.”
Mahoney’s best day was the contest on March 5 in Sarasota against Boston that ended in a 4-4 tie. He went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
“I’m a realist, I knew I wasn’t going to make the team out of spring training this year. I got some at-bats and it was a good experience to see some of the pitchers I saw,” Mahoney said.
“They told me they wanted me to go down to the minors and get some at-bats to get ready for the season. We talked about some things and they just told me stuff that they liked and just to keep going and get ready for the long season.”
He was called into manager Buck Showalter’s office Monday for a meeting that also included Andy MacPhail, Terry Crowley and hitting coach Jim Presley.
Mahoney had been scratched from the Orioles’ lineup on Saturday when he tweaked a hamstring.
“It’s feeling better and better every day. You need to make sure you are 100 percent in spring, so they are overly cautious about it. It’s nothing to worry about,” he said and added that he hopes to play in the first minor league game tomorrow.
The O’s 2010 minor league Player of the Year, Mahoney said the established big league players were helpful to him.
“There was a day or two I got to work with Derrek (Lee) at first. I got to talk to a lot of guys on the bench during the games. Jake Fox was someone I really learned a lot from, just about the major league game and some hitting stuff. He’s having a really good spring. Just how to go about the game at a higher level.”
Now, after getting 17 at-bats over 17 games, Mahoney will get a chance to play every day in minor league camp and get the necessary at-bats he needs to prepare for the season.
“Obviously, it’s a little letdown (leaving big league camp), anyone will tell you that. Baseball is a business and I would be out of my mind to think I would make the team this year with the lineup those guys have. But I hope that what I did will impact my future somewhere along the line.”
What is your take?: What are your impressions of Mahoney now that he fared well in big league camp and what are your expectations for his play this year?
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