Orioles fans probably wouldn’t recognize Oscar Salazar if they saw him in public, but his play has them starting to take notice. Salazar led the Orioles to a rare Sunday victory by hitting his second homer of the season and left fans asking ” who is this Salazar guy? He is pretty good.”
After signing as an amateur free agent in 1994 with the Athletics, Salazar did not make his major league debut until eight years later with the Tigers. In 2002 he played three games and hit .190 with a homer and one RBI. After toiling around the farm systems of the Angels, Royals and Angels and making stops in Italy and Mexico, Salazar signed with the Orioles in 2007.
Salazar made his return to the majors on June 10th of last year but only played sparingly before being sent back to Bowie. At age 30, it looked like Salazar would be a life long major leaguer until being recalled this season. With the way he is currently, it looks like he wants to stay.
With a .419 batting average, two home runs and six RBI’s, Salazar has been more then just a “fill in” player whose only contribution is to give a rest to the everyday players. Given his success thus far this season and his perseverance and personality Salazar has quickly become a fan favorite. He now has fans, including me, wanting to see more of him.
While his versatility and bat are intriguing, many people believe that his defense is suspect and that would hurt the Orioles if he played every day. There is no question that Melvin Mora is one of the best defensive 3rd baseman in baseball, but I think Salazar would be a serviceable defensive third baseman if he were to replace Mora. The ability to play every infield position is what makes Salazar a valuable commodity to the Orioles and is likely the reason he did not get sent down when Cesar Izturis came off the DL.
When I first heard that the Orioles had called him up from Norfolk I questioned why they decided to bring up a 30 year old journeyman. However, I am now on the Oscar Salazar bandwagon. I now get excited every time he is in the game and I expect him to produce more often then not despite the situation. What a difference a few weeks make.
Salazar’s play has made fans go from saying ” who is this guy? to ” man, this Salazar guy is pretty good”.
So who is Oscar Salazar? He may just be the Orioles future 3rd baseman. And I am perfectly fine with that.