Scott grateful to be everyday player
Outfielder getting chances to bat against lefty hurlers
CHICAGO -- All Luke Scott ever wanted was a chance to prove that he can improve. Scott, a first-year Oriole, is finally getting to start against left-handed pitchers, which stood as the final obstacle in his path to becoming an everyday player. Baltimore has faced six southpaws in its last 11 games, and Scott has been in the starting lineup for five of them.
The fifth came against Chicago starter Ted Lilly on Wednesday. Scott went 2-for-7 against lefties in his previous four starts. The left fielder is batting just .220 with a .304 on-base percentage against left-handers for the season, but he said he appreciates the chance to play every day and to get better against lefties one start at a time.
"With anything in life, if you don't have much experience at it, it's kind of hard," he said. "The more you do something, the better you're going to get at it. The more I face lefties, the better I'm going to get at hitting them."
Whether that's the case or not, Scott has staked his claim as an everyday player. The left-handed hitter has batted .272 with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs in his first 70 games, adjusting to the American League with ease. Scott was promised the chance at an expanded role when he was traded from Houston to Baltimore, and he's taken advantage thus far.
"He's a streak hitter," said manager Dave Trembley. "And when he hits, he'll hit anybody. He'll be patient, not chase bad pitches. He'll hit the ball to the other side of the diamond. I think he's showed steady improvement. ... I would expect as the weather gets warm, he's going to heat up, too. He's a second-half player [and] always has been."
Scott has also shown a huge home-road split this season, batting .343 with a .435 on-base percentage at Camden Yards and a .212 average with a .286 OBP on the road. He doesn't have an explanation for why that would be, and his career numbers show no such split. But when it comes to left-handed pitching, Scott knows exactly why he struggles.
"The ball's going away from you and a right-hander's breaking ball comes in," he said of facing southpaws. "It's a different swing path you've got to take, different timing. You've got to wait on the ball. At the same time, your body reacts differently. You see something in and your first reaction is to open up. You can't do that on a left-hander.
"You can do it on a right-hander if you see the ball in most of the time, but on a lefty you can't."
Trembley has used fourth outfielder Jay Payton a lot against left-handed pitchers, and he gave the veteran a start in center field on Wednesday. That meant he could give Adam Jones a day off and keep Scott and Nick Markakis active. Part of that is dictated by the schedule, but Trembley said he's also trying to keep his starters in rhythm.
"With the way the schedule is, we're going to play the Nationals and they're throwing lefties against us," he said. "You just put guys in there and give them an opportunity and show confidence. I think he's a good hitter. With a guy that is a good hitter, it doesn't matter who is pitching, right or left. A good hitter is a good hitter. I think everyone would agree with that."
Perhaps that's the case, but it's also true that even good hitters have weaknesses. Scott's has always been an inability to hit left-handed pitching, but he's thankful that the Orioles are giving him a chance to overcome it.
"This is a great place, a great situation to be in for anybody," he said. "There's a great atmosphere and I've said this many times: We have great people put on the uniform. We have great people in the front office and management. Communication's good. There's respect. They let you know what's going on. You know where you stand. The door's always open. You can always give your thoughts, your feelings. It's a great environment for anybody to be in to have a chance to succeed."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.