MIAMI -- Oscar Salazar hasn't carved out a role, but he hasn't disappointed, either. The Orioles have gotten some above-average play from the veteran in each of the last two seasons, and manager Dave Trembley has been impressed with the professional approach Salazar takes to the plate.
"When he hasn't gotten a hit, he's moved the runner," said Trembley, lauding Salazar's ability to produce as a reserve. "He's been very good with two strikes. He's been our 10th man, really. In these games he's been our ninth guy, because he finds a way to get in there. Last night he was pretty clutch. Very clutch."
Salazar, who has been through quite a professional odyssey, has proven that he can hit at the top levels of the Minor Leagues. He had to play in Mexico and Italy to revive his hopes of playing in the Majors, and he hit .372 in his first 50 games at Triple-A Norfolk this season.
That showing earned the 30-year-old another promotion to the Majors, and he's proven to be quite adept at pinch-hitting. He is 3-for-5 this year and 8-for-16 over two seasons as a pinch-hitter with the Orioles, giving Trembley a veteran reserve who doesn't need a lot of playing time in order to stay sharp.
The Orioles may have to consider keeping Salazar, largely because he's out of options and may not slide through waivers this time around. Baltimore originally intended to demote Salazar once Cesar Izturis returned from the 15-day disabled list, but Trembley acknowledged on Wednesday that the plan could change.
"I think he's shown everybody that he can hit," said Trembley. "We have some time. Until then, I hope that Oscar continues to make it very difficult for us and continues to contribute to the success of the team and does well for himself. He's a good hitter and a great guy in the clubhouse. Everybody loves him."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.