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Albert Suarez

Albert Suarez capitalizes on chance with Orioles

Stints through Asia helped Albert Suarez return to majors

HOUSTON – Orioles pitcher Albert Suarez walked up the stairs to the visitors’ dugout at Minute Maid Park recently. He watched the Astros take batting practice and observed hitter after hitter come in and out of the cage.

He watched intently as Astros great Jose Altuve, 34, finished his round of batting practice. Suarez then waited for his Venezuelan countryman near the cage to greet him with a smile and a hug.

Both players had humble beginnings growing up in Venezuela. Though, they had different paths making it to the big leagues. Suarez, 34, made his major-league debut at the age of 26. Now, he’s fought through adversity to return back to the big leagues. 

“It was a grind,” Suarez said. “I told myself ‘If I get a chance to be with any organization, I would have a chance to make it to the big leagues.’”

Albert Suarez recalls bus rides

His father, Jose Alberto, wanted his two boys to participate in sports. Albert Suarez and his brother Robert Suarez, the Padres’ closer, started playing baseball together. Jose Alberto worked as a crew member on a cargo ship. He stayed home for 15 days, then traveled for the next 15 days.

When Jose Alberto was home, he would take Albert and Robert to their baseball practices and games. Laura Suarez, the boys’ mother, took the initiative to take both her boys to practice when Jose Alberto was out for work.

Laura didn’t own a vehicle. So she would ride the bus with her boys to their practices. The bus ride to practice was usually 15-20 minutes. Sometimes it was longer, depending on traffic. After the bus dropped them off at their stop, the Suarezes would walk 8-10 minutes to the ballpark.

“We always fell asleep on the bus,” Albert Suarez said. “No matter what, we always fell asleep. Then she would get us up as soon as we got to the closest stop to the field. 

“For me that’s always one of the things that’s on my mind. How we would take the bus, go train, and then the games. Two times a week for practice and then once or twice on the weekend. For us it was just like something that we were used to, and it was fun.”

Long journey

Albert Suarez continued to run through obstacles through his baseball career. The native of San Felix, Venezuela, signed as a 16-year-old international free agent with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2006. After six seasons through the Rays’ farm system, he elected free agency.

Suarez signed with the Angels in 2014. A year later, he signed with the Giants in 2015. After 10 years through three different organizations, Suarez made his major league debut with the Giants in early May of 2016. He allowed only one hit through a scoreless inning. 

He battled through different types of injuries with the Rays, Angels, and Giants. Suarez had Tommy John surgery, knee issues, Lyme disease, an oblique injury, and right shoulder impingement.


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“I had a lot of injuries,” he said. “Six injuries would require six surgeries. That’s what prevented me to get to the league sooner. When I got pulled to the 40-man roster, I was 19. That’s something that told me like, ‘Ok, I can make it.’ But you know for any sport the main thing is to stay healthy.”

Suarez found himself mentally when he played overseas. Suarez played three years (2019-2021) in Japan with the Yakult Swallows of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) League. He finished with a  10-8 record, 3.00 ERA and 134 strikeouts in three seasons with the Swallows.

Japan, Korea stints

In 2022, the hard-throwing right-hander signed with the Samsung Lions in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). Suarez had a combined 10-15 record, with a 3.04 ERA, and 247 strikeouts in his two seasons with the Lions. Moreover, he finished with a 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), the most in any of the leagues where he has pitched.

After playing his last season with the Lions, Suarez angled for a return to the majors.

“I started thinking ‘Ok, I can get back to the big leagues,’” Suarez said. “I just needed to change some little things, some details in my mechanics. Like what I want the ball to do on the track map. So I had to change a little bit of those details so it’ll get me back to the United States. Like any organization in the States. That’s what my goal was.”

Albert Suarez signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles at the end of the 2023 season. He was invited as a non-roster invitee to MLB spring training. The 6-foot-3 right-hander learned more about pitching schemes through data and analytics. He wanted to learn and discover a new way of attacking hitters.

Suarez began the 2024 season with Class AAA Norfolk. He quickly got his number called to the big leagues, though. Suarez hasn’t skipped a beat with the Orioles.

The Orioles dealt with a lot of pitching injuries in the early part of the season. Starters John Means, Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells are out for the season.

Suarez has been the unsung hero for the O’s starting rotation. He carries a 4-2 record with a 2.43 ERA, 45 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting only .236 against him over his 17 games. Suarez has started 10 games this season.

“Albert’s picked us up,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of Suarez. “We’ve had our share of pitching injuries. For Albert to keep us in the game almost in every one of his starts, did a little long relief for us in the bullpen when we needed it.”

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