Araúz determined to earn his second chance with O's

June 26th, 2022

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Araúz made his way from Triple-A Norfolk to Chicago on Saturday after being called up by the Orioles. And if that name doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because he’s yet another player who came to Baltimore by waiver claim looking to make an impact.

Despite a 4-3 loss against the White Sox on Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field, Araúz finally got his first hit of the season when he launched a home run to right-center in the third inning.

He also contributed to a late ninth-inning rally when he had an RBI single and brought in Ryan Mountcastle to score with the bases loaded. With Araúz as the go-ahead run at first base, the Orioles couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.

“[Araúz] swung the bat really well today,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s nice to see him come over here and contribute. We were just one short today, but I’m happy with how we played and came back.”

Araúz was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox on June 15 and made three appearances at Triple-A Norfolk -- batting .455 (5-for-11) with one double and four RBIs -- before the Orioles called him up on June 25.

“A guy that can play multiple positions,” Hyde said on what he brings to the team. “We’re a little banged up here, so a guy that can play three spots in the infield, another left-handed bat which we don’t have many of. Just a versatile guy that we want to take a look at.”

When the 23-year-old was designated for assignment earlier this June, he didn’t know when he would be on a Major League roster again or when he would get another chance, but he was determined to get back to the bigs.

“I always had the expectation of it,” Araúz said via interpreter Ramón Alarcón. “I was hoping a team would claim me and call me up at some point. Sometimes I was a little bit hesitant.”

Araúz entered Sunday hitless at the plate. He went 0-for-4 in his Orioles debut on Saturday and was 0-for-10 in six games with Boston this season.

But none of that mattered on Sunday.

The switch-hitting utility man was just playing in the moment, getting his second shot and watching his long ball hit the right-center-field bleachers. And to do it against Dylan Cease -- a pitcher who has only given up six home runs this season -- was an even better feeling.

“It feels great,” Araúz said. “My mission here is to help my team. I give credit to the opposing pitcher, but I was actually more and more motivated [when he kept striking out my teammates].”

Araúz found himself in another position to make an impact on Sunday when he went to the plate with the bases loaded in the ninth. His mindset was simple: wait for his pitch, don’t chase out of the zone and don’t let the pressure get to him.

The new guy delivered again with an RBI single to extend the rally.

“The mindset was to just make good contact and look for my pitches,” Araúz said.

The waiver claim pickups are nothing new for the Orioles over the past couple of seasons. They’ve consistently been looking to give players second chances and banking on them thriving in a new environment.

“Our shortstop [Jorge Mateo] was DFA'd and our second baseman [Richie Martin] was a Rule 5,” Hyde said. “As they get claimed off waivers, they’re looking for a second chance. That’s something that we’ve talked about -- opportunity. And that’s definitely been a good opportunity for guys. But I think that there are certain guys that are really taking advantage of a second opportunity, a second chance.”

On Friday, the Orioles’ pitchers combined to hold the White Sox to one hit. Ironically, all five of those pitchers -- Austin Voth, Joey Krehbiel, Bryan Baker, Cionel Pérez and Jorge López -- were waiver claims.

Saturday featured Mateo -- who was a waiver claim after being designated for assignment by the Padres last season -- going 2-for-3 with a home run, double, walk and three runs scored.

And Sunday was no different. Araúz joins a long list of Orioles players looking for a second chance to prove themselves.

“I’m very thankful for the Baltimore Orioles organization for the opportunity,” he said. “It’s my job to take advantage of it. Whatever they want, just play my game.”