Orioles reserve infielder Jake Fox in the lineup vs. Tigers

September 10, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

DETROIT — — Orioles infielder Jake Fox spent Thursday's off day back on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he once received first-team All-Big Ten conference honors.

It was a nice trip down to memory lane for Fox, but he likely got an even bigger thrill today when he arrived at Comerica Park and saw his name in the lineup.

Fox, who started the series opener against the Detroit Tigers at first base, had just one at-bat in September and that was all the way back on Sept. 1. He hadn't started a game since Aug. 29.

"It's frustrating especially being a competitor," said Fox who entered last night with just 68 at-bats since the Orioles acquired him from the Oakland Athletics on June 22. "You want to go in there and show them what you can do especially under new management. You understand when you're brought in an organization, they have a list of guys that they have to get a look at first. I think they brought me in because they like the way I played; they like the way I hit. It's just a matter of giving me an opportunity to show what I can do."

It was just Fox's sixth start in 36 games since Buck Showalter took over as manager. Showalter said that it wasn't difficult to get Fox in the lineup tonight, alluding to the infielder's brief history against Tigers starter Armando Galarraga. Fox entered tonight 4-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs in his career against Galarraga.

However, Showalter did acknowledge that there are a lot of guys in similar situations as Fox, including rookie Brandon Snyder, and it's been tough to get everybody in the game.

"You're trying to keep the competitive integrity and you're also trying to see some people in different spots." Showalter said. "He's not the only guy."

Reimold at first?

Showalter said that he's considering giving outfielder Nolan Reimold a start at first base before the end of the season, but he doesn't consider it imperative for the purpose of his offseason evaluations.

Reimold, who was the Orioles' regular left fielder for much of last season, played first base at times for Triple-A Norfolk this season as the club wanted to improve his versatility going forward.

"I know that he's capable of going over there and playing first base," Showalter said. "I wouldn't say we wouldn't [use him there]. We have Snyder that is going to play some, [Ty Wiggington] obviously, Foxy. We have a lot of people capable of playing there and he's one of them. I know that's part of what he brings. I'm also leaning on some people that have seen him play a lot at first base. One game would still be a lot less than what people that have seen him in the organization play first would tell me."

No issues with Joyce

Showalter got to know Jim Joyce while he was managing in the minor leagues so he wasn't concerned at all when he learned the umpire would be behind home plate tonight for Galarraga's start.

The umpire and Tigers pitcher will likely forever be linked after Joyce blew a call at first base on what would have been the final out of a perfect game for Galarraga on June 2 against the Cleveland Indians. This was Joyce's first trip back to Detroit since that series.

"I know Jimmy and he's going to be fair, and if Galarraga throws a ball off the plate, it's going to be a ball. If he throws it over the plate, it's going to be a strike," Showalter said. "Jimmy is good people. That didn't have to happen. I think one of the greatest things [the situation] exposed is how good of a human being Jimmy is. It's sad that something like that had to happen for everybody to get it. There are a lot of umpires like that. They don't want to be the focus. They want the game to be decided among the players."

Showalter also said that Joyce's blown call on Jason Donald's grounder also reinforced his belief that the league should expand the instant replay system.

"Umpires want to get it right and most of the time they do. I don't think people realize how fast the game is," he said. "In a lot of cases, it's an educated, experienced guess because nobody's eyes can move that fast. If that's what comes out of it, I think the game would be better as a result, but we'll see. I think you'll see some form of it increased, but it's how you do it. … The delays, I think, are way overemphasized. We have enough delays as it it. It's hard for me to believe in today's age, we couldn't get it done."

Doing it the opposite way

Switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters' two-run homer against the New York Yankees Wednesday was the 20th homer of his big league career and the 11th that went to the opposite field. That includes the first five homers of his career.

Eight of his 11 opposite-field homers have come with Wieters batting left handed.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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