CHICAGO -- Knowing the Orioles lost two starting outfielders to injuries, Sal Fasano figured his stay at Triple-A Ottawa would continue indefinitely. Why would a catcher think any differently?
Fasano said he was "stunned" when told by Lynx manager Dave Trembley that the Orioles were purchasing his contract Wednesday. They sent down reliever Rick Bauer and decided to go with 11 pitchers and three catchers, with Fasano providing another right-handed bat on a team that lost Sammy Sosa (staph infection) and Luis Matos (broken finger).
"I was the last person who thought he was going up," he said. "Any time an outfielder goes down, you don't anticipate another catcher going up. It was very much a pleasant surprise. I was pretty excited, like a little kid again."
Fasano, a career .215 hitter who hadn't reached the majors since 2003, signed a minor league contract during the winter and was a non-roster invitee to spring training, where he went 3-for-15 with a home run in 14 games. He spent more time at first base than behind the plate.
Geronimo Gil won the job as backup catcher, and Fasano decided to accept his assignment to Ottawa rather than become a free agent. The New York Yankees kept him in the minors for the entire 2004 season. The Orioles kept their word that they wouldn't forget about him.
"I have a lot of respect for them because of that," he said. "I just want to play."
In 14 games at Ottawa, Fasano was hitting .267 (12-for-45) with three doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs. He homered twice against Scranton-Wilkes Barre on April 19.
Fasano, 33, shared time with catching prospect Eli Whiteside, his starts increasing because of a few doubleheaders. He also played first base once and served as the designated hitter once.
"For the most part, he was catching two [games] and I was catching one," Fasano said. "It just happened to be fortunate that this time of year, there are so many rainouts. We got a chance to split a few games.
"Doubleheaders are bad for the most part, but for me it was pretty good because it guaranteed me a chance to play and get some at-bats. I actually put some good numbers back up. I felt like a hitter again."
Fasano hasn't been told how he'll be used by the Orioles, and he isn't worrying about it.
"I'm just happy to be here, and I'll do whatever it takes to win," he said. "When you have [Javy Lopez], who's an offensive catcher, you never know how a guy like me is going to be put in the mix. I'm just excited, and hopefully I can help this team and keep winning."
Bigbie in center of things
With Matos out at least six weeks with a broken right ring finger, Larry Bigbie is expected to get most of the starts in center field.
Manager Lee Mazzilli also considered David Newhan and rookie Keith Reed, who had his contract purchased from Ottawa on Wednesday. Reed is a natural right fielder, and Newhan has limited experience in center, though he played there frequently this spring.
Bigbie wasn't used in center during spring training, but he started 22 of 30 games at that position over the final month of the 2004 season.
"He's been there before. He's fine," Mazzilli said. "What he's got to do is he's got to go out and run them down, catch them."
K. Reed in disbelief
Reed got word from Trembley about his promotion and didn't believe it. The team was in Charlotte, N.C., and Reed was in a state of disbelief.
"He was messing with me at first," said Reed, the 23rd overall pick in the 1999 draft. "He asked me what was going on because I wasn't shaving or anything like that. I thought I was in trouble, but then he told me I was going to the big leagues. He had to mess around for a little bit.
Around the horn
Team sources confirmed that 10 Orioles players were tested for steroid use by Major League Baseball during their last homestand. They will be tested again later in the season as a precaution against false positive readings. ... B.J. Ryan has appeared in 19 of 34 games this season, including 11 of the past 15, but Mazzilli isn't worried about the left-hander wearing down. "You'd like to give your closer a couple days [off] and spread the game out a little bit, but he is a horse," Mazzilli said. "He wants the ball every day."
Sun staff writer Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.