Once unlikely hero, McLouth a spark for O’s
Free agent Nate McLouth was getting in an offseason workout in early December when his phone rang.
“Nate,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who hadn’t spoken to the outfielder much since Baltimore’s season ended in the American League Division Series, “we’re getting ready to sign another outfielder. Are you in or are you out?”
McLouth, who hit .268/.342/.435 in 2012 for Baltimore after being promoted from Triple-A, was in. The former All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, who signed a Minor League deal after being released by Pittsburgh last May, had wanted to come back to the Orioles. But the team’s checklist at the Winter Meetings included going home with another outfielder, and while executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette had McLouth as the O’s top choice, the club wasn’t waiting around.
“Sometimes those type of phone calls are used as maybe a scare tactic,” McLouth said. “But I didn’t get that. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. It was a very genuine conversation, and I appreciated it.”
McLouth hung up and called his agent, and the Orioles got their man, signing McLouth to a one-year, $2 million deal before leaving the Meetings. The signing barely registered a blip on baseball’s radar as Orioles fans clamored for the club — fresh off its first postseason appearance in 15 years — to make a splash on the free-agent market.
But Baltimore’s big move was re-signing McLouth, and the smaller deal has had a serious effect on every facet of the Orioles’ game. McLouth has taken over the everyday job in left field, and he has undergone a renaissance in Baltimore, eclipsing a career high in stolen bases by June and providing a spark as the team’s primary leadoff hitter, with a .283/.350/.420 line in 100 games, including his first career grand slam on Friday.