Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

The Slow Approach Paying off for Pearce

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

The Slow Approach Paying off for Pearce

Article excerpt

SARASOTA

ORIOLES: He has bounced around the league, but may have found a home

For Steve Pearce, the game has slowed fromthisspeed, down ... to ... this.

The most apt comparison might be the deceleration in a quarterback's processing of defensive reads necessary to complete a pass. It's derived from a boost in Pearce's confidence, an increase in his playing time.

In the case of the Orioles' first baseman/outfielder, coming off a career season, it's meant recognizing the pitch a lot sooner after it's left a pitcher's hand.

"It's just slowing everything down," the Lakeland native said. "You have a way better chance of hitting when everything is slowed down and you can get away mechanically when something isn't right."

Since selected by the Pirates in the eighth round of the 2005 draft, the 31-year-old Pearce had to wonder if he'd ever get any advantage in the confrontation of pitcher versus hitter.

In 2007, his first stint with the Pirates, he hit .294 in 23 games. It was sufficient for then-Pittsburgh director of player development Kyle Stark, now the team's assistant general manager, to utter a not-so-prophetic remark before the start of 2008 spring training.

"Steve Pearce is a younger guy who we want to build around," Stark said.

But as Pearce got older, that construction process never happened. From 2008 through 2011, he didn't get more than 165 at- bats in any season with the Pirates. Then came a series of moves, from the Pirates to the Twins, who released him after just three months and with nary an at-bat in a regular season game. The Yankees signed Pearce in March 2012, then sold him to the Orioles in June.

In late July, he was on the move again, this time to Houston via waivers. A month later, in August 2012, the Yankees purchased him from the Astros. Pearce got to wear the pinstripes for a month before the Orioles plucked him off the waiver wire. …

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