When Manny Machado was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, that opened a spot on the Orioles’ 25-man roster. It went to 24-year-old right-handed hitting Renato Núnez, who tonight will start his fourth game at third base since joining the Orioles on Friday in Toronto.
The Orioles claimed Núnez off waivers May 13 from Texas after he had been designated for assignment by the Rangers two days earlier. He had gone 6-for-36 (.167) with Texas.
The Orioles sent the Valencia, Venezuela, native to Triple-A Norfolk. He hit .289/.361/.443 in 56 games with the Tides, including 14 doubles, a triple, five home runs, 25 RBIs and an .804 OPS. He’s a career .265/.321/.466 hitter in 757 minor league games and belted 32 home runs in 2017 with Triple-A Nashville in the Athletics system.
Over the weekend in Toronto, Núnez talked about getting a call-up by the Orioles and his solid offensive numbers with Norfolk.
“I feel pretty excited and happy to here,” he said. “Want to help my teammates and the coaches. Try to have fun and help the team win. I can play third, first, left field a little bit. I was playing third base a lot in the minors. At Norfolk, I just came to the field every day ready to work and do all my routines. Had fun and just tried to help the team win.”
Núnez went 2-for-11 (.182) in three games at Rogers Centre with two doubles. He drove in his first run as an Oriole in the eighth inning yesterday. His double to left scored Jonathan Schoop and gave his club a 3-1 lead.
Núnez, who is out of options, said it was a bit of surprise to get called to join the Orioles.
“Yeah, I mean, you always focus on what you are doing,” he said. “But you’re always ready to come to the big leagues. When the manager told me, I was pretty excited to come here.”
Núnez hit .313 with 10 RBIs in 14 games in July with Norfolk. He hit .302 against left-handers and .284 versus right-handers.
Showalter for now wants to see what he has with Núnez at third base.
“We’ve got other people that can play over there, but I want to get a look at Renato. He’s been with some clubs, but he’s only 24 and can do some things with the bat,” Showalter said.
Núnez is obviously thrilled to not only get a call to the majors but to get his chance to start at third every day for the club.
“It feels amazing. Just good to be playing and I’ll try to have fun,” he said.