To a gaggle of reporters at his soon-to-be former locker in Sarasota, Florida, two months ago, Kyle Stowers offered an optimistic viewpoint. This wasn’t the end for him — it certainly wasn’t a great outcome, but this wasn’t the end.

Stowers, despite a strong spring training performance that featured seven home runs, didn’t make the Orioles’ opening day roster. He was headed back to Norfolk for a fourth season.

“Just because I didn’t make the team doesn’t mean that was the story of the year,” Stowers said Tuesday, standing in front of his current locker in Baltimore’s home clubhouse at Camden Yards. “There’s still a lot of year left, obviously, but that’s how I approach things.”

This, then, isn’t the story of Stowers’ year either. But it is a story of Stowers — one he feels is more reflective of the hard work and minor league production that has defined the 26-year-old thus far. At any snapshot in time, a story can be written, a player’s fate laid out there in pixels, but it’s never done.

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So Stowers returned to Norfolk and did what he always does down there: hit.

He blasted 11 homers, waiting his turn for the call that would bring him back to the major leagues. The call came just under two weeks ago, and while playing time hasn’t been consistent — Stowers has served as a late-inning replacement in five of his 10 appearances — Monday and Tuesday painted a different sort of story than the somber one of Sarasota, with bags packed and ahead a long drive north to a Virginia port town.

Stowers received starts on consecutive days for the first time this season. He has five hits in his last 10 at-bats, including a single in Tuesday’s game and two doubles in Monday’s win against the Boston Red Sox.

It’s a tiny sample, but a reinforcement for a long-held belief.

“It’s never been a doubt in my mind whether it’s something I can do,” Stowers said, his voice quiet after an Orioles loss. “What makes this time different, it’s a number of things. I’m healthy this year. I feel confident and really comfortable in the clubhouse. And I think that’s what I say when I say I know what to expect: it’s all-encompassing.”

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The belief flows from the clubhouse to the field in a way that feels differently than his stints in 2022 and 2023. Two years ago, after all, Stowers was a wide-eyed rookie, and while he had success (hitting .253 in 34 games) the 14 games he played in 2023 brought a different reality.

Stowers struck out 12 times and hit .067 in those 14 games last year. He was demoted, never made it back and then dealt with the additional frustrations of a shoulder ailment and a fractured nose.

“I had some success in 2022. I had success in spring trainings,” Stowers said. “Didn’t have a ton of success last year in the big leagues, but if I go back on those two, I know I’m capable.”

He largely flushed 2023 from his mind and entered spring training this year determined to show a more true side of himself.

Stowers finds himself in a unique spot. For so long, there wasn’t room for outfield prospects because Baltimore’s outfield of Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander was unbreachable. He, Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad largely rotated as backups during their initial forays into the majors.

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But with Mullins and Hays not hitting at their peak levels — they both carry sub-.200 batting averages — Cowser has broken through for everyday playing time. Kjerstad wasn’t so fortunate; Stowers was called up to replace him earlier this month.

And now it’s Stowers’ turn to take what opportunities might be there, however infrequent or slight. When he does receive a start, such as Monday, there’s pressure to perform. He stepped up in a blowout win to begin the series as he drove in a career-high four runs. Stowers then stayed on a changeup and punched it through the right side Tuesday, extending his hitting streak to three games.

“He’s very talented and he’s done a good job so far,” Anthony Santander said through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “Obviously, he’s very disciplined. He goes about his work the right way, and it’s good to see him do well so far in this stint.”

It’s hard to know how long the stint will last. Stowers understands that. But in the same way Stowers insisted missing out on the opening day roster wouldn’t define his season, he won’t rest on the laurels of consecutive starts.

Nor will he bend his belief in himself — the same belief that powered him through disappointment and delivered him to Baltimore once more. That’s a much different story to write.

“My thought going into spring training, and even into the season in Norfolk, was that I was ready,” Stowers said. “It just felt like I was keeping in my mind that it’s when, not if, and just believing that I can do it, believing that things can go well.”

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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