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OF Alvarez being converted into reliever

Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A day after the Orioles optioned Dariel Alvarez to Triple-A Norfolk, they revealed that they're planning on converting the 28-year-old outfielder into a pitcher.

The Orioles signed the Cuban defector in July 2013, and by August 2015, he was in the Major Leagues. Alvarez, who has batted .250 in 14 games with a home run for the Orioles in 2015 and 2016, faced long odds to make the team because Baltimore signed several veteran outfielders.

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- A day after the Orioles optioned Dariel Alvarez to Triple-A Norfolk, they revealed that they're planning on converting the 28-year-old outfielder into a pitcher.

The Orioles signed the Cuban defector in July 2013, and by August 2015, he was in the Major Leagues. Alvarez, who has batted .250 in 14 games with a home run for the Orioles in 2015 and 2016, faced long odds to make the team because Baltimore signed several veteran outfielders.

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Alvarez -- who has a strong outfield arm -- pitched in Cuba, and manager Buck Showalter, who turned R.A. Dickey into a knuckleballer, thinks he has a Major League arm.

"We talked to him for probably 20 minutes yesterday. We've been talking to him off and on for about a year," Showalter said. "He thinks he's ready to pitch in a Major League game right now. We're going to start with it slow."

Alvarez will be a reliever, and the Orioles will allow him to be a designated hitter on the days that he doesn't pitch. Showalter expects Alvarez will start the season for one of the Orioles' full season Minor League clubs.

The Orioles have experience with converting position players to the mound. Mychal Givens, who struggled offensively as an infielder, was remade as a pitcher, and is now a key member of the bullpen. They'll use the same plan with Alvarez that they did with Givens.

"We just laid it out. Here's what we see. Here's what we're thinking, and what do you think?" Showalter said. "He's got to embrace it. This is something that he's wanted to do, but the big thing for him is that he didn't want to leave the offensive part of it behind. We were trying to tell him the focus he's got to have on it. He's pretty confident about his pitching."

The Orioles can option Alvarez this year and in 2018. They don't want to see him pitching for another team.

"I'm hoping that in a perfect world he's knocking at the door as a pitcher next year," Showalter said.

Rich Dubroff is a contributor for MLB.com.

Baltimore Orioles, Dariel Alvarez