Henry Urrutia signed with the Baltimore Orioles on July 6, 2012, and joined the organization the following year from Cuba in a much heralded way, after visa problems prevented his arrival the summer he signed. He came with high recommendations from Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Dan Duquette, who said Urrutia was signed to help the major league team that year.
Well, he did, for 18 games or so in 2013, showing a knack for hitting mainly to the opposite field but never getting around on the ball and pulling it. Going with the pitch is fine, but with a power hitter’s frame of 6-5, 200 pounds, it was thought he would be able to yank some balls to right field, and deep.
The Orioles brought him up for some of 2013 but shuttled him back and forth to Norfolk, and kept him in the minors for most of 2013 and 2014, before bringing him back up this past Saturday. Last night, in his fifth straight start, he paid off, beating the Mets on an opposite field slap shot into the left field seats in the bottom of the ninth. It was only his second extra-base hit in 76 major league at-bats.
Then came the postgame interview and the pie. He was asked what flavor it was and said he didn’t know. When MASN commentator Mike Bordick asked if there had been any specific thing he had worked hardest on in the minor leagues before getting promoted, Urrutia didn’t seem able to come up with an answer other than to say, in the euphoria of the moment and in slow, broken English, that he was grateful to be an Oriole, and that getting here was what he had dreamed of.
Then he did something fairly unique. He apologized on TV for his English, with his face covered in pie. Such a humble moment for a guy who had just picked a beauty of a time for his first, major league home run, a game-winner. According to The Sun, the fan who caught the homer brought him the ball, and Urrutia gave it to his 16-month-old son.
With the DFA of David Lough a few days ago, one never knows how likely it is that Urrutia will stay with the team, but it is only 11 days until September, and the club made the move because corner outfielders were a dire need, so sending him back down would not seem all that likely.
For a day, let’s let him celebrate what he was brought here for.
The win pulled the Orioles another game closer to Toronto, but still 5 back of the Yankees, going into tonight’s opener of a four-game series with Minnesota at Camden Yards.