Lough eager to seize regular role with Orioles
Left-handed batter with highly regarded glove could fill need in left field
David Lough heard from his agent during the Winter Meetings that he might be traded. He heard there were some teams interested, and with the Royals adding Norichika Aoki to a crowded outfield picture, he knew he might be the odd man out.
Still, the 27-year-old was surprised to find out Wednesday he'd been traded to the Orioles after spending his whole professional career with Kansas City.
But when the shock wore off, Lough realized he'd been given a golden opportunity to seize Baltimore's starting left-field job and contribute to a club with postseason aspirations.
"They're a great team," said Lough, who was traded for infielder Danny Valencia. "They've got a ton of weapons on the team. Hopefully I can bring a little spark to the team with the way that I play, my hard work, dedication to the game."
Lough, who finished eighth in last season's American League Rookie of the Year voting, is highly regarded for his defense and should compete for playing time with Nolan Reimold, who's missed a lot of time over the past two seasons due to neck surgeries.
Considering that Lough is a lefty hitter and Reimold bats right-handed, the two might seem fit for a platoon. But Lough has proven to be capable of hitting both lefties and righties, and Dan Duquette, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations, mentioned that Lough might be more than a part-time outfielder.
"I think David's going to be a good addition to the club. I think he fills a need for us there in the outfield," Duquette said. "He's got a chance to be an everyday ballplayer for us, and he's a really good defender. I think he was a real strong addition."
Duquette also said the Orioles are looking to add another hitter to their lineup, so it's possible another outfielder could be added to compete for playing time with Lough and Reimold, as Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are set in stone in center and right field, respectively.
If Lough is called upon to play regularly in left field, he believes he's up to the task. He has played all three outfield spots but spent most of his time with the Royals in right field. He ranked ninth among outfielders who played at least 500 innings with a plus-14.5 ultimate zone rating (UZR) and saved 15 runs on defense, according to Baseball Info Solutions.
"I can play all three outfield positions, and I feel comfortable in most of those positions. But I would say my biggest strength is left field," Lough said. "I don't project with a ton of power, as you can tell by my numbers and stuff. I'm more of a gap-to-gap hitter. I like to take the extra base and compete with the outfielders to see what kind of arms they have."
Though he said he's capable of improving his on-base percentage and stolen-base numbers, the fact that Lough hasn't displayed traditional platoon splits makes him an intriguing option for manager Buck Showalter. Over 116 games in the Majors, Lough has posted a .277/.307/.393 batting line against right-handers and 282/.312/.408 vs. lefties.
"They always say the left-on-left is the hard part," Lough said. "I feel comfortable either way. That's just something I developed over the years, something I've worked hard for. ... I feel comfortable whatever situation I'm put in."