BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Jake Fox wants to do more than just hit his way onto the Baltimore Orioles’ roster. He wants to be in the everyday lineup.
On Thursday, Fox launched a pair of two-run homers as Baltimore beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-3.
Fox has eight homers, the most in the majors in spring training. He’s homered four times in his past three starts.
“I’m trying to leave no doubt that I should be a daily part of this team,” Fox said. “Coming into spring training, that’s the biggest thing I wanted to prove. I know what I’m capable of doing, but I don’t think they do. I want to show them exactly what I can bring to this lineup. From there, it’s out of my control.”
Fox, 28, is out of minor league options, but has a good chance to be one of manager Buck Showalter’s picks for the bench. Fox can play first base, catcher, left field and third base, and would be valuable insurance if Derrek Lee, who’s out with a sore back, starts the season on the disabled list.
“Buck knows I want to play every day, but right now, I know that’s not where I fit in with this team,” Fox said. “I’m going to be a role player, and Buck knows I’m going to do that to the best of my ability. But, hopefully, I’m showing him I can play every day somewhere down the road.”
The Orioles acquired Fox in June by trading right-hander Ross Wolf to Oakland. Fox played 38 games for Baltimore and hit .220 with five homers.
“Oakland wanted me to just be a bench player,” Fox said. “I’d never done that before. When I came over here, it was a fight just to get my swing back.”
In 16 games this spring, Fox is hitting .356 with 12 RBIs. He capped Baltimore’s six-run third inning with a two-run homer off right-hander Ross Ohlendorf.
“Fox is a good hitter,” Ohlendorf said. “I’ve seen him do really well before. When he first came up with the Cubs (in 2009), he did really well.”
Ohlendorf worked three innings and gave up six runs on eight hits. The right-hander got two strikeouts.
“I feel like I made good pitches, even though the results weren’t indicative of that,” Ohlendorf said. “I kept the ball down when I wanted to much better than before.
In four outings, Ohlendorf has a 10.24 ERA. Of the 50 batters he’s faced, 23 have reached base.
Orioles starter Chris Tillman pitched four innings and allowed one unearned run on three hits. He walked three and struck out one.
Tillman, a right-hander, is fighting for the fifth spot in Baltimore’s starting rotation.
“I force myself not to think about it,” Tillman said. “I’ve got to go out there and get better. I’m looking more toward the long run. I’m happy with my progress so far.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)