Sometimes it’s as easy as recognizing one name in a stack of papers. York manager Andy Etchebarren hoped to add a bat to his lineup, so when he met with Revs manager of baseball operations Andrew Ball they pored over all the names of recently released players. And Etchebarren immediately recognized former Orioles outfielder Jeff Fiorentino.
“I had him (with the Orioles) … and I told Andrew I’ve got an interest in this guy because he can hit,” Etchebarren said. “He doesn’t have a whole lot of power, but he can play all three outfield spots, he can play first and he’s a left-handed hitter.
“I’ve been in this game so long, and I’ve been in the minor leagues so long, there’s a lot of guys who I recognize. I remember what they can do and what they can’t do.”
Fiorentino, 29, batted leadoff and played left field for the Revs Friday.
After a lengthy stint on the Brewers coaching staff in the 1980s, Etchebarren spent 15 years in Baltimore’s minor leagues. He was working as the Orioles roving catching instructor when Fiorentino joined the O’s in 2004 as a third-round draft pick.
“He was a drafted catcher, but he didn’t catch very much,” Etchebarren said smiling.
Moved to the outfield, Fiorentino broke into the big leagues at age 22 in 2005. Nicknamed “Screech” for his resemblance to the “Saved by the Bell” character, he had been promoted from Single-A Frederick. He played in the big leagues in 2005, 2006, 2008 (with Oakland A’s) and 2009. But Fiorentino spent 2010 in Japan. He returned to the States last season, splitting last season between the Orioles and Braves organizations. He signed with Oakland before 2012. But Fiorentino played only 16 games in 16 games for Triple-A Sacramento this season. Etchebarren said Fiorentino originally wanted to sit out a few weeks after being released June 2, a common reaction for players who hope another organization will pick them up. After he didn’t earn a midseason deal, he agreed to come to the Atlantic League in an attempt to earn another shot with a major league organization.
“I need to play,” Fiorentino said. “I need some at-bats, if I don’t play I may not get another opportunity.
“I’ve never been released before. This one I kind of put it on myself. I went over to Oakland and they ended up signing a lot of players. So there wasn’t playing time for me. Spring training I got nine at-bats in big league camp. And I went to the minors and got 40 at-bats in like two months, so in order for my career to keep going I needed to … take my chances here.”
Note: Revs outfielder and regular leadoff man Brandon Haveman has left the team briefly for family reasons. His wife, Sarah, accepted a job to coach cross country and track at Dayton, and the couple needed to move from Indiana to Ohio. Haveman is scheduled to return to the Revs July 19.