Moore will play shortstop at Norfolk


Orioles say former third baseman will be primary shortstop for Tides

B. Davis will take on utility role

March 31, 2010|By Dan Connolly |

SARASOTA, Fla. — Not only is the Orioles' 25-man roster shaking out, but now the club is shaping its Triple-A team, devising a plan that will lessen its corner infield logjam.

Scott Moore, who has played third base for most of his career, will be the primary shortstop at Norfolk this season, and Blake Davis, who was expected to be the Tides' starting shortstop, will be in more of a utility role, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said.

"Blake will probably move around a little bit and, I would guess, now, that Scott would get the lion's share at short, but we'll see," MacPhail said. "Scott is a good fit for us. We think he is going to hit. He's a good defender, he has versatility, and this will only add to his versatility."

The experiment is twofold.

It gives the Orioles a potential reserve shortstop with power, and it guarantees Moore playing time this year. With top prospects Brandon Snyder at first base and Josh Bell at third in Triple-A and Michael Aubrey and Rhyne Hughes, also natural first basemen, on the Tides' roster, Moore likely would have been relegated to part-time status.

"I'm excited. I lost a little bit of weight this offseason knowing in the back of my mind that this was a possibility," Moore said. "I feel good, I feel confident. I definitely don't think it can do anything bad for me. Worst-case scenario, I can't do it; best case, I can. I'm excited about it."

The Orioles acquired Moore, 26, from the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 31, 2007. The eighth overall pick of the 2002 amateur draft by the Detroit Tigers, Moore batted .255 in 17 games for the Orioles in 2007. He played in four Orioles games at the start of 2008 but was sidelined by injuries the past two seasons.

Moore has played just 42 games at shortstop in his eight-year professional career -- never in the majors -- including 35 as an 18-year-old rookie in the Gulf Coast League in 2002. He played three games at shortstop with Norfolk in 2008.

"I'm pretty confident," Moore said. "I feel like there's going to be a little bit of a transition for a time, but overall, I feel comfortable with it. It's just subtle changes as far as turning the double plays. I think it's going to be good."

Roberts plays three straight

Brian Roberts played his third consecutive game Wednesday, a final hurdle that has convinced manager Dave Trembley that his leadoff hitter and second baseman will be fine for Tuesday's season opener against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Trembley said he planned to give Roberts off for Tuesday's afternoon game, which followed a night contest, but Roberts lobbied to play. "After that, I'm taking it like he's ready," Trembley said. "He said that he wants the at-bats, he needs to play."

Roberts, who missed most of spring training with a herniated disk in his back, will be off Thursday and likely will play the final two games of the exhibition season.

On Wednesday, he doubled and walked in three plate appearances and made several good plays in the field, including robbing Kevin Youkilis of a single on a hard-hit grounder.

"He's gone out in the back after a workout and done extra work, extra hitting, extra ground balls," Trembley said. "What he's trying to do is get in baseball shape now. He says he's fine. Let's cross our fingers and hope he keeps it going."

Moeller still in limbo

Veteran Chad Moeller, who has been told he has lost the battle for backup catcher, said he has made no definitive plans about his future but he doesn't want to retire. The club is canvassing the majors to see whether anyone would give Moeller a big league deal.

"After we see how that shakes out, we'll go from there," MacPhail said.

If there are no big league spots open, Moeller's options are accepting an assignment to Norfolk or asking for his release -- which the Orioles have not determined whether they would grant. MacPhail said that as of Wednesday afternoon there had been "nothing that would indicate there is something in the immediate future."

Around the horn

Outfielder Lou Montanez, who batted .319 in 47 spring at-bats, was optioned to Norfolk before Wednesday's game. ... Right-handed reliever Koji Uehara (left hamstring strain) will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging to determine whether his injury is more serious than first anticipated. He has not thrown from a mound since March 18 and will start the season on the disabled list. ... Center fielder Adam Jones was scratched from Wednesday's lineup with a stomach ailment. Felix Pie replaced him in the field. ... Brandon Waring, the organization's 2009 Position Player of the Year who has been in minor league camp, will start at third base in the Orioles' game against the Rays on Thursday in Port Charlotte.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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