Ford starts first big league game in five years

Ford starts first big league game in five years

Ford starts first big league game in five years
BALTIMORE -- The smile on Lew Ford's face Sunday morning told the story.

Ford, who turns 36 in two weeks, hasn't played in the Major Leagues since 2007, but the Orioles selected his contract from Triple-A Norfolk and put him into the starting lineup for Sunday's series finale with the A's.

"It's a great feeling," Ford said before the game. "I've come a long way this year from where I thought was going to be, to here, it's really been an amazing experience. I'm just going to enjoy it as much as I can."

The Orioles signed Ford to a Minor League deal in mid-May, and he's been hitting well for Norfolk with a .331 average, 11 homers and 40 RBI in 62 games. He hit fifth and played left field Sunday.

Ford has a .272 career average in 494 Major League games, and his last action at this level came with the Twins five years ago. He had three homers and 13 RBIs then in 55 games.

But Ford came into 2012 saying he wanted to play one more year and no teams signed him, so he went to Long Island of the Atlantic League. And everything began to roll from there.

"The chance that this would happen is just so small," Ford said. "I'm a very realistic person, and I wasn't expecting it at all when I started out this year. To make it back here [makes me] so happy."

Ford made the Baltimore crowd happy in the second inning Sunday, fielding a Yoenis Cespedes single and gunning him down at second base. A few small "Lewwwwww" chants could be heard in the crowd.

"Our people think he could help us," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "He's doing real well at that level and has been doing real well for quite awhile."