SARASOTA, Fla. -- For the third straight spring training, Pedro Alvarez has signed a contract with the Baltimore Orioles.
Two years ago, he signed a major league contract with the team March 10. Last year, he signed a minor league contract March 13.
Alvarez's Feb. 26 signing
this year gives him more time to prepare.
After using him as a designated hitter in 2016, the Orioles decided to try Alvarez in the outfield last season. But that experiment was quickly abandoned after a few weeks at Triple-A Norfolk.
"There's a familiarity," Alvarez said. "In my case, compared to the last two years, last year, I think I was here for 10 days, the year before, I was in camp for maybe 15 days. This feels almost like a full camp. I'm excited to be here, to get to spend this time here, to get this opportunity to be here again."
Manager Buck Showalter said he expected Alvarez, who took batting practice Feb. 26, to play within the next week. The 31-year-old signed a minor league contract, and he'll earn $1 million if he's added to the 40-man roster and can earn up to $2 million in performance bonuses.
It will be hard to for Alvarez to make the club because he's no longer actively trying the outfield, and the team has Chris Davis to play first base with Mark Trumbo as the designated hitter.
That was the case last season when Alvarez went to Norfolk, batting .239 with 26 home runs and 89 RBIs before he was recalled Sept. 1. In 14 games with the Orioles, Alvarez hit .313 with one home run and four RBIs.
"He's a great depth piece for us," Showalter said. "I think he really learned some things about himself as a hitter last year, especially the second half of the season. It was fun to watch. When he came up to us, he was really good I thought. So it's always comforting to have someone like him as a depth piece."
Alvarez will take ground balls at first, but said the outfield experience he gained last year helped him to "be more athletic in the infield" and overall.
Showalter liked what he saw of Alvarez late in the 2017 season.
"I could just tell he had a real calmness about him," Showalter said. "He had a plan every time he went up there. He was under control. He made them throw the ball over the plate. He didn't miss many pitches. You could tell he was really in a good place and comfortable hitting with the approach he was taking. It was the same thing they had been saying there. Sometimes with a season like last year, it takes about half of it to figure out."
Alvarez received warm greetings on the field before taking batting practice.
"Obviously, this is an organization that's welcomed me with open arms," Alvarez said. "I have a good rapport with a lot of staff and players here. Obviously, this is a place where, in terms of fit and comfort, from a comfort level, this is definitely a place where I definitely saw myself coming to again."