Short Time New York Mets Third Baseman: Alvaro Espinoza (1996)

Alvaro Alberto (Ramirez) Espinoza was Born on February 19, 1962 in Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela. The six foot infielder was signed by an amateur free agent in 1978 by the Houston Astros. The old time classic, good fielding no hit short stop was a Pacific Coast League All Star for AAA Visalia in 1983.

Espinoza was released by the Astros & made his MLB debut with the Minnesota Twins in 1984 as a defensive replacement in a game against the Texas Rangers. He spent three years with Minnesota & then spent the 1987 season with AAA Portland where he hit .308. 

He signed with the AL New York club, becoming their regular short stop for three seasons. At short he committed 22 errors in 1989 (second in the AL) while coming in the top five in games, assists & putouts. His 23 sac hits in 1989 were second in the league & also had career highs in batting (.282) & doubles (23) that season as well. He was released in Spring Training 1992 as Andy Stankiewicz took over at short stop.

Espinosa signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1993 and became the teams third baseman where he hit .278. Over the next two years he became a reserve infielder playing third, second & short. For the 1995 AL Champion Indians he became famous for placing blown up bubble gum bubbles on the caps of his team mates in the dugout. He saw action in seven post season games going 2-11 in all three series. In July of 1996 most people seem to forget he came over to the New York Mets along with Carlos Baerga in exchange for Jeff Kent & Jose Vizcaino.

The 34 year old Espinoza debuted with the Mets during a double header on July 30th against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium. In the second game he came to pinch hit for Rey Ordonez in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Mets down 3-2 & runners on second & third. Alavaro singled home Chris Jones tying up the game. The Mets would win the game on a walk off HR by Todd Hundley in the 12th inning. 

On August 5th he hit a HR at Wrigley Field in Chicago & another four days later in Florida against the Marlins. Espinoza hit safely in twelve of fourteen games through August, and hit .306 in 48 games as a New York Met. He hit 4 HRs with seven doubles two triples & 16 RBIs. He saw the majority of his playing time at third base (38 games) posting a .900 fielding %, he also played seven games at short & two games at second.

He reported to Mets Spring Training in 1997 but was released as the team went North. He signed on with the Seattle Mariners finishing his career there after 33 games. 

In his 12 year career he batted .254 with 630 hits 22 HRs 105 doubles & 201 RBIs playing in 942 games. In 624 games at short he posted a .971 fielding % making 77 errors in 2684 chances. Espinoza played 219 career games at third, 86 games at second 24 games at first & one game as pitcher.

Retirement: After his playing days he was a minor league infield coordinator for the Montreal Expos (1998) Los Angeles Dodgers (200-2001) Pittsburgh Pirates (2002) & Scranton Wilkes Barre (2007). In 1999 he was the manager of the Vero Beach Dodgers.


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