Could Steve Pearce, the player who has bounced around the major leagues seemingly from team to team in recent years, finally be finding a home wearing orange and black?
In the 2012 season, Pearce began spring training with Minnesota and was released. He later caught on with and then was designated for assignment by the Orioles, Astros and Yankees.
Heck, this year he was DFAd by the Orioles on April 22 and re-signed on April 29.
Now he is a mostly a regular at first base with Chris Davis often playing at third. Pearce is batting .286 with 21 doubles, 16 homers, 38 RBIs and an .877 OPS.
That is a nice homer total for a player that had hit 17 in 743 career big league at-bats before the 2014 season.
Pearce may have finally found a home - and also a job playing every night. And for a first-place team.
“It feels great,” Pearce said of finally settling in as an Oriole. “You know, I put a lot of hard work into the game. Just glad I’m on a team like this and able to contribute.
“Definitely fun. Winning ballgames, playing on a good team. A team that is in first place. Couldn’t ask for anything more.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Pearce was struggling at bat. He went 5-for-44 (.114) over a 14-game stretch.
“Just went through a little slump. Lost my timing a little bit. Had to fight through it, work and get comfortable back in the box again,” he said.
Pearce is indeed a hard worker. He had two DL stints last year for wrist tendinitis, which happened in part because he worked so hard and took so many swings before the game trying to stay sharp when he was not playing every night.
Pearce recently missed seven games with a strained abdominal muscle, but he returned to the lineup on Saturday and went 2-for-4 with an RBI last night in the O’s win over Boston.
Pearce said he has not really cut back on his pregame work, as he knows now he will be in the lineup just about every night.
“It’s hard to change your routine,” he said. “I like to work, I like to constantly try to get better. That is just what I feel I need to do.”
Pearce has been cleaning up on left-handed pitchers this year with an average of .315, a .640 slugging percentage and 1.042 OPS.
In 2014, Pearce is getting his chance and he’s taking advantage of it. He’s hitting homers, playing for a winning team and maybe finally finding a big league home.
Pearce’s at-bats per home run:
* One every 43.7 at-bats with all teams through the 2013 season.
* One every 27.1 at-bats with the O’s through 2013.
* One every 18.1 at-bats this year.
Meanwhile the Orioles won again last night, beating Boston 4-0 behind Miguel Gonzalez. The Orioles reduced their magic number to 11 and opened a 10-game lead atop the American League East for the first time since Sept. 22, 1979.
Tonight at Fenway Park, Chris Tillman (11-5, 3.40 ERA) faces Anthony Ranaudo (3-1, 4.63 ERA).
The Orioles are 8-6 against the Red Sox in 2014 and 32-19 since the 2012 season. Since Sept. 20, 2011, the Orioles are 19-9 at Fenway Park.