Tolleson making most of his opportunity

Tolleson making most of his opportunity

Tolleson making most of his opportunity
BALTIMORE -- As Steve Tolleson stood on the field during his postgame interview, the remnants of a shaving-cream pie still dripping from his face, it was clear that he was making the most of what could be a fleeting opportunity in the big leagues.

Although Tolleson's two-run home run in the second inning proved instrumental in Tuesday's 4-1 win against the Red Sox, his days with the Orioles are likely numbered. With third baseman Mark Reynolds progressing in his recovery from a strained oblique and Brian Roberts starting his rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Wednesday night, roster spots -- especially on the infield -- will soon be at a premium.

That crunch could spell the end for Tolleson, who made just his fifth start of the season Wednesday after being called up from Triple-A Norfolk on May 9.

"He's fun to have around," manager Buck Showalter said. "It's going to be tough to part with him. We like looking at him every day. He's a competitor."

Showalter pointed out how well Tolleson has capitalized on his Major League opportunity, going 5-for-11 with two doubles, a home run, three RBIs and a walk against lefties.

But that performance likely won't be enough to stall the potential returns of Roberts and Reynolds, and Tolleson isn't putting any additional pressure on himself.

"That's out of my control," Tolleson said. "For me to sit here and say, 'Well, if he comes back, I'm going to get sent down,' that doesn't do the team any good and it doesn't do me any good. There's enough pressure in this game as it is, and if you're putting pressure on yourself to stay up here or to perform the way that you have to perform to stay up here, that doesn't help anyone. So I'm just going to play as hard as I can, do what I can to help this team."

Tolleson's grounded, practical approach was no surprise to Showalter. With a background as a team captain at South Carolina and a father, Wayne, who played 12 seasons in the Majors, Tolleson has the pedigree for success.

Showalter said Tolleson's maturity and competitiveness made him an obvious target in free agency, and the Orioles signed him last November.

"He's going to be in the right place at the right time," Showalter said. "You know he can sit two or three days and prepare himself to make a contribution."

Tolleson said understanding his role and approaching the game with the right mentality is critical not just for him, but for all of the reserves on the Orioles' roster.

Showalter has shown a commitment to keeping all of his players in the flow of the game with at least a few at-bats per week, which makes it easier to capitalize on each opportunity.

Tolleson proved that Tuesday night, launching the home run that prompted Adam Jones to smack the shaving-cream pie on his face.

"That's a great feeling," Tolleson said. "It's me tonight, it will be somebody else tomorrow."