Backup catcher Tatum set to return to Orioles

Corner infielder Snyder optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk

May 25, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

Catcher Craig Tatum stopped by the Orioles clubhouse Wednesday and will be promoted to start behind the plate in Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Kansas City Royals.

Tatum's recall hasn't been announced, but corner infielder Brandon Snyder was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk after Wednesday's 9-2 win and it's no secret that the Orioles have been hoping to add a traditional backup catcher. That would allow them to use Jake Fox more in a utility role. Fox has started six games this season behind the plate and four in left field.

Tatum batted .200 with seven RBIs in 21 games for Norfolk this season after playing in 43 games and hitting .281 last year as Matt Wieters' primary backup. He returned to the Tides' lineup last week after a stint on the minor league disabled list with a right shoulder impingement.

Tatum didn't make the club out of spring training as the Orioles decided to keep two utility infielders (Robert Andino and Cesar Izturis) and use Fox as their backup. However, Brian Roberts and Izturis are on the disabled list and the Orioles also have a day off in each of the next five weeks, enabling them to go with one fewer pitcher if they see fit. Those developments have allowed them to carry both Fox and Tatum.

"You always put it down on paper," manager Buck Showalter said about the makeup of his roster. "You just can't seem to ever get there. I think we're getting closer to that, with the exception of [Roberts]. Let's just hope Brian [Matusz] has a good outing and shows us what we need to see and Derrek [Lee], in a day or two, is taking some swings and feeling good. I know he's eligible on [Wednesday], but this type of injury, I'm going to feel a lot better when he has a couple of days down there of swinging the bat where he doesn't feel anything."

Roberts still hurting

A day after seeing a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh, a sullen Roberts said he has no target date to get off the DL and return to the Orioles' lineup. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said Tuesday that Roberts would be out for at least more three weeks.

"I have no idea, minus the fact that I can't play today," Roberts said when asked about the prognosis from Dr. Michael Collins of two weeks of rest before re-evalutation. "I guess we'll just go from there. I don't know how to quantify that news."

Asked specifically how he is feeling, Roberts said: "It comes and goes. … It's a part of life. You take the good with the bad, so you just try to stay positive and take it day by day."

Roberts said some of his symptoms are "diminishing a little bit," and he'll start doing physical therapy, including riding an exercise bike. Showalter planned to sit down and talk to Roberts before Wednesday's game.

Memorable night for Simon

On any other night, the game ball for Tuesday's win would have almost certainly gone to reliever Alfredo Simon, who got his first win since Sept. 5 by pitching a scoreless top of the ninth inning. However, as happy as Simon was, he knew the night and the ball belonged to Adam Jones, who won the game with a two-out two-run homer off Royals closer Joakim Soria.

"I think Jonesy gets that ball," Simon said.

Regardless, it was a nice night for Simon, who hadn't pitched in the big leagues since Sept. 26. Simon didn't even show up to the Orioles' spring training facility until the first week of April after he was imprisoned for two months in his native Dominican Republic as the chief suspect in a fatal New Year's Day shooting.

"There is no reason to be nervous or whatever. I just tried to be the best I can because that is my priority," Simon said. "I got good luck, and I just win the game."

Said Jones: "I was happy to see him go out there. It's about time he got warmed up. He's been here for three days. I'm excited for him. I want him to be here with us as long as he can. He's part of our future. We, the entire team, likes him here."

Around the horn

Left-hander Troy Patton cleared waivers and was optioned to Norfolk. … Outfielder Felix Pie had some dental issues earlier in the day, but he batted leadoff and played left field. Showalter said he would most likely use a leadoff platoon of Pie and Andino in Roberts' absence, preferring to keep J.J. Hardy toward the bottom of the order. … A day after popping up a bunt and seeing it turned into a double play in the fifth inning, Andino was on the field to take early bunting practice. … Adams got his second career start at second base. … Before Wednesday night's game, the Orioles held a moment of silence for former Royals pitcher and broadcaster Paul Splittorff, who passed away Wednesday after a battle with oral cancer and melanoma. He was 64 years old.

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