Orioles bring up veteran Peterson for IF depth

Utility man replaces Ruiz, who was optioned to Triple-A

July 26th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- The Orioles on Thursday added a fresh face to their infield mix, selecting the contract of veteran utility man from Triple-A Norfolk. Peterson, 29, takes the place of on the active roster after Ruiz was optioned to Triple-A on Wednesday night.

Peterson made an appearance in Baltimore's 16-inning victory over the Angels on Thursday, going 1-for-4 off the bench with a huge 2-RBI single in the 15th.

The club’s Opening Day third baseman, Ruiz hit .238 with five home runs and a .640 OPS over his first 89 games with Baltimore, sliding into more of a reserve role recently due to the emergence of Hanser Alberto. Ruiz ranked as one of the Orioles' top defensive players, posting positive ratings there by several metrics.

Originally a fourth-round Draft pick of the Astros in 2012, Ruiz was the first player acquired by Mike Elias this winter after Elias took over as executive vice president/general manager. Over 161 career games from 2016-2019, Ruiz, 25, has hit .219 with a .618 OPS in the big leagues.

“We talked about a few things for him to work on offensively, and he knows that. He’ll be back here at some point,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Getting every day at bats against right-handed and left-handed pitching is going to help him.”

Enter Peterson, who hit .195 with a .633 OPS in 93 games for the Orioles last season but was raking in Triple-A. His path back to Baltimore was a complicated one: Twice in the past nine months, Peterson reworked his Minor League contract to remain with the Orioles -- first last November after he was outrighted off the roster, and most recently on July 16, when he opted out and re-signed three days later.

Peterson said there was no Major League guarantee written into his new contract, but that he signed it knowing there was a good chance he’d be back in the Majors soon.

“For me, it was an opportunity to stay here and to get back to the big leagues,” Peterson said. “I think I’m growing as a player. Obviously I’m getting older, and I made some adjustments in spring that I kept working on down there. It’s been good.”

The numbers are really good. Peterson was hitting .313 with a .910 OPS in 90 games at Norfolk, where he played primarily third but appeared at every infield position and five games in left field this season. Primarily a second baseman in the Majors, Peterson is a career .228 hitter over parts of five big league seasons with the Orioles, Yankees, Braves and Padres. He will wear No. 23.

“He’s earned it,” Hyde said. “It was more about getting Jace here for his bat and his versatility. He was swinging the bat really well.”