The Baltimore Orioles thought they could wake the sleeping giant known as Michael Almanzar.
Almanzar, 23, was snatched from the Red Sox last December during the Rule V draft. But Baltimore had to put Almanzar on its major league roster for a full year to keep him – the Orioles did the same thing to grab Ryan Flaherty from the Cubs in 2012.
But Almanzar got off to a slow start in spring training, batting .200 in 19 games before hurting his knee. Once healed, the Orioles returned him to the Red Sox on July 1. Almanzar landed back with the Portland Sea Dogs, where he played last year.
On Monday, he helped Portland to a 6-2 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Hadlock Field.
Almanzar went 2 for 3 with a double and two RBI. He’s batting .273 in 14 games.
“It was very fun being with the big league players,” Almanzar said, “but I hurt my knee. Now I feel great.”
Almanzar was signed by Boston when he was 16, with a $1.5 million signing bonus. He slowly showed signs of his potential, reaching Double-A last year, batting .268 with 16 home runs.
A free agent after this season, Almanzar doesn’t figure to factor in Boston’s plans. But you never know.
“This is an important season,” Almanzar said. “Do a good job and we’ll see what happens.”
On the mound Monday, Mike Augliera (4-8) pitched one of his best games of the year, lasting 72/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits.
“It’s the goal of every pitcher to go deep in a game,” Augliera said.
His effort helped preserve a bullpen that has been taxed with 13 games in the past 10 days.
Portland improved to an Eastern League-best 63-34. New Hampshire dropped to 44-52.
Besides Almanzar, the Sea Dogs got two-hit efforts from Heiker Meneses, Blake Swihart, Jonathan Roof and Ryan Dent. Meneses hit his first home run of the season in the sixth inning.
NOTES: Derrik Gibson was on loan briefly to Triple-A Pawtucket and went 3 for 4 on Sunday. Gibson returned Monday to the Sea Dogs and leaves Tuesday for the Eastern League All-Star game Wednesday night in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Joining Gibson will be Swihart, second baseman Sean Coyle and reliever Robby Scott. … Swihart threw out a base-stealer in the third inning and has now gunned down 27 in 50 attempts. … Longtime scout Pat Doughtery of the Colorado Rockies chose Portland as his last stop Dougherty, 79, who has been a college coach, minor league manager and scout, is retiring. Among his finds: Todd Helton and Matt Holliday.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: