Fiorentino happy to be back under Etch’s wing
On some occasions when the York Revolution picks up a ballplayer, there’s a connection with somebody on the squad.
Maybe he previously played for Revs pitching coach Mark Mason. Or hitting coach Enohel Polanco has a connection with a player from the Dominican Republic.
But a couple times over the past few seasons, Revs’ skipper Andy Etchebarren has brought in a player who saw action for him in a previous organization.
Just a year ago, Etchebarren signed left-handed reliever Scott Rice and catcher Octavio Martinez. Both had played for him when Etchebarren managed in the Orioles’ farm system.
For newly acquired outfielder Jeff Fiorentino, Etch’ has an even stronger connection. Back in 2004, Etchebarren served as a roving catching instructor for the Baltimore Orioles when they drafted the 6-foot-1 inch, left-handed batter out of Florida Atlantic University.
“He (Etchebarren) was a guy I worked with the first year I was a pro,” Fiorentino said before Monday’s game.
Getting the call: The Florida native saw action behind the plate and in the outfield during his time at Florida Atlantic. So, it wasn’t much of an issue when the O’s tried him in the outfield shortly after being drafted. The move ended up working out, so much so that the O’s called Fiorentino up to the big leagues from High Class A Frederick (Md.) in just his second year as a pro in 2005.
“I didn’t believe it. I thought they were messing with me,” he said. “I was in big league (spring training) camp. I just got drafted. I didn’t think it worked that way.”
Starting over: Fiorentino couldn’t catch on at the big league level despite getting the call three more times in his career. He has played in a total of 58 games at the major league from 2005 through 2009, split between Baltimore and the Oakland Athletics. He owns a career .270 batting average in the big leagues.
Fiorentino, 29, comes to York and in the independent Atlantic League for the first time in his career about a month after asking the Athletics for his release from Class AAA Sacramento, where he hit just .186 in limited action (16 games).
“When I signed they had nobody and then they ended up trading for about five people and signing another seven or eight people. So they ended up with 15 people (outfielders) between Triple-A and the big leagues,” he said. “There were not enough spots. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle but they didn’t even give me the at-bats to prove my worth.”
Depth: At the moment, Fiorentino is providing some depth to a banged-up Revs’ outfield. Staying with the Orioles’ outfielder Nick Markakis, Fiorentino makes a 25-minute drive north to York each day.
He has two hits in 11 at-bats (.182) serving as York’s lead-off man the last three games (through Sunday).
After being out of game action for about a month, it’s likely he’ll get more comfortable at the plate with more at-bats. He already feels at home playing under Etch’s wing again.