Yesterday, a minor move that may not have caught the eye of most baseball fans was made. The Baltimore Orioles acquired outfielder/first baseman Efren Navarro from the Los Angeles Angels. To clear a roster spot for their new left-handed bat, the Orioles designated outfielder L.J. Hoes for assignment. Hoes had been acquired from the Houston Astros earlier this winter.
A one-time third-round pick of the Orioles, Hoes had been ecstatic to return to Baltimore. Growing up in the District of Columbia, the Orioles were the team Hoes rooted for. He envisioned himself donning the orange and black and taking the field at Camden Yards.
Those dreams were eventually fulfilled. Although Hoes had but a cup of coffee with the Orioles before being traded to Houston in 2013, he had still made his childhood dream come true. Things did not work out for Hoes in Houston, and he was never quite able to crack the starting lineup. A return to the Orioles seemed like the perfect opportunity to jumpstart his career. Hoes would be expected to contend for the starting job in right field and bring a sorely lacking element of speed to a stagnant offensive attack.
“I’m very excited to be back,” Hoes said when describing the emotions he felt upon the completion of the trade. “This is my home. This is the team I grew up watching — my favorite baseball team.”
“I had talked to Adam Jones about the possibility of being teammates again, and getting back home. I’m excited to get back here and have the chance to play. Last time I was up with the Orioles, I didn’t really play much,” Hoes said. “I’ve always had those dreams and aspirations of playing in Camden Yards and wearing an Orioles jersey. I got the opportunity, but I wasn’t able to contribute the way I wanted. This is a second chance for me.”
Knowing the way Hoes felt about his return to Baltimore — to his family with the Orioles — you can’t help but feel a little sad reading the following tweet.
@SimplyAJ10 maybe next time
— L.J. Hoes (@MRLJHOES2U) January 26, 2016
If you were looking for a painful reminder that baseball is a brutal business, look no further. The Orioles went out of their way to bring back Hoes, a native son, only to jettison him a few months later when a left-handed bat came along for the right price. On the eve of spring training, L.J. Hoes must now find another team to play for or hope to clear waivers and stay with an organization that passed him over once again. He will not take the field with his mentor, Adam Jones, or his former minor-league roommates, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop.
The Orioles have their new left-handed bat in Efren Navarro. The Orioles were extremely righty heavy; this move does make sense on some levels, even if Navarro is four years older than Hoes. All is right in the front office. The player who grew up wanting to be an Oriole searches again for a job or heads back down to Triple-A. This is how baseball works, but that doesn’t make this pill any easier to swallow.