Zaun Sent To Rays For A Future Player

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

Tampa Bay Acquires Catcher Via Waiver Claim

Moeller Up

August 08, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

TORONTO - -Wanting to give rookie catcher Matt Wieters even more time behind the plate and content with Chad Moeller in the role of veteran mentor, the Orioles assigned Gregg Zaun to the Tampa Bay Rays via a waiver claim Friday in exchange for a player to be named.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said he has discussed three scenarios with his Rays counterpart, Andrew Friedman, and "there are a couple of moving pieces that have kept us from agreeing on the name of the player [coming back to the Orioles]."

MacPhail is hopeful that the trade will be completed by the end of the week.

The Rays, still in the playoff hunt, were in need of catching depth, while the Orioles were planning to play Wieters more the last eight weeks of the season. The Orioles are in position to save about $800,000 in the exchange, which includes what remained on the one-year, $2 million deal Zaun signed with the club before the season and a $500,000 buyout if the catcher's 2010 option was not exercised.

"It was becoming evident in the way Matt has handled himself here that he would really get the lion's share of time," said MacPhail, who selected the contract of Moeller to take Zaun's place on the 25-man roster. "Gregg did exactly what we asked him to. He was our regular catcher, and he gave way to Matt. His playing time was going to get less and less. Tampa Bay had a need, they're in a pennant race and Gregg has a home there. It made sense for all parties."

Zaun, who was the Orioles' Opening Day catcher but transitioned into the backup and mentor's role with Wieters' May 29 promotion, batted .244 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 56 games.

"Zaun did a very nice job in his tenure here," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "He came in to mentor Wieters and also a lot of the young pitchers that we have. I think this does a couple of things: It allows Zaun to go to a contending team and to help them, and I think it also signals and signifies the progress and emergence of Wieters. It will allow him to play maybe more as we go down the last couple of months of the season."

Zaun, 38, flew out of Toronto on Monday afternoon and, after a cross-country flight to Seattle, was scheduled to join the Rays during their series opener against the Mariners.

"He was great," Wieters said. "He always had a competitive edge where he wanted to play every day, but at the same time he was available to help me in any way. Anytime I had some sort of question to take to him, he would be helpful. Zaunnie helped me through the league for the first time. Now, I'm going through it a second time with Moeller."

Ready when called upon

Moeller, who was hitting .203 in 35 games with Triple-A Norfolk when he was promoted, said he is looking forward to continuing his relationship on the big league level with several of the organization's young pitchers. Chris Tillman gives Moeller a lot of credit for helping him with his changeup while the two were paired at Norfolk.

"You can see him making the adjustments," Moeller said. "You are saying things to him that seem remedial at times to me. But at the same time, it's almost brand-new to him. You remember that I was in college at the age he is now. You just can't fathom that."

Very cool hand Luke

Luke Scott took extra batting practice before Thursday's game, hoping to escape from a slump that has lasted a lot longer than what the Orioles are accustomed to seeing from the streaky designated hitter. Scott, who was held out of the starting lineup Monday, is 7-for-56 (.125) with 17 strikeouts since the All-Star break.

Not even the Detroit Tigers, on whom Scott has feasted the past two seasons, could get him out of the slump. Scott went 1-for-9 with three strikeouts in the series that ended Thursday.

"He hasn't been comfortable," Trembley said. "He's had four or five different stances, he's holding the bat three or four different ways. For him, it's just a matter of not being comfortable. He came out this afternoon and took early batting practice against the right- and left-handed batting practice pitcher. He'll be in there [today], and I'll play him on Sunday. But this has probably been one of the longer slumps he has been in, and I can't wait for him to get hot. When he gets hot, no one gets him out."

Around the horn

Several Orioles spent time with members of the Blue Jays' 1992 and 1993 world champion teams, which are being honored this weekend at Rogers Centre. Former Toronto ace Jack Morris had a long talk with several of the Orioles' young pitchers, including Tillman, Brian Matusz and David Hernandez, while former Oriole Roberto Alomar held court with Brian Roberts. ... The OriolesReach Food Drive, held last weekend, brought in more than 4,000 pounds of food and more than $30,000 in cash for the Maryland Food Bank.

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