Andino gets first taste of outfield

Andino gets first taste of outfield

Andino gets first taste of outfield
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Robert Andino hadn't really taken part in any outfield drills, and he had no idea he'd be making his first spring start in left field until Sunday. Then, right on cue, the first Blue Jays hitter of the game sent a tailing line drive Andino's way, and he misjudged it into a double.

"That's how baseball is," Andino chuckled after the Orioles' 9-5 loss at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Sunday.

At the plate, the 26-year-old middle infielder went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base. On the field, it was a different story for Andino, who misplayed Rajai Davis' liner and struggled with several other balls hit his way -- one of which he eventually recovered on to make a leaping grab at the warning track.

But what can you expect? Andino hasn't played a game in the outfield since 2009, has only appeared in three Major League contests there, and besides some batting-practice shagging, he hasn't received much work as an outfielder this spring.

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Andino, who eventually played hitters extra deep to adjust to the wind blowing out, said Sunday was "fun" and "a good experience."

The Orioles had been wanting to play Andino in the outfield recently. He is out of options, and after a fine season in Triple-A Norfolk last season, he comes into camp competing for a reserve spot -- but faced with the reality that Baltimore has plenty of depth at shortstop and second base.

The Orioles already have Cesar Izturis -- owner of a $1.5 million guaranteed contract -- as a backup middle infielder, so they'd like Andino to expand his repertoire and show he can play the outfield to be more useful.

Sunday was Step 1 in that process.

"In a utility [role], you're more valuable if you play different positions," Andino said. "I play the infield, so now I get my name out there if they see I can play the outfield. So it makes me more valuable, I guess. I don't know. Wherever they tell me to play, I'm going to play it."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.