Orioles notebook: Fox works way back to major leagues

Utility man and versatile outfielder Angle will give O's more flexibility

August 23, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

MINNEAPOLIS — When Jake Fox was taken off the Orioles' 40-man roster June 1, he assumed he would be gone from the organization and would land a shot with another club.

But no one claimed him off waivers, so he returned to Triple-A Norfolk, a bit surprised but undaunted.

"I didn't think there was a possibility of coming back," said Fox, who made the club out of spring training after smashing 10 exhibition homers but batted .188 in 19 games in the regular season before his demotion. "I knew going down there, I was just going to go and play and have fun playing because that's what I want to do. I want to play, and I want to get in a lineup every day."

Despite spending parts of four seasons in the majors, Fox, 29, said he kept a positive attitude and played whenever and wherever the Tides needed him. He ended up batting .274 with 12 homers and 57 RBIs in 67 games with Norfolk, which earned him a call-up Tuesday to replace infielder Blake Davis, who was demoted to Triple-A on Monday night.

"He got after it down there. All the things you ask him to do and he went down there [and did them]," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "This is a guy that has been in the big leagues some and he kind of re-established himself, and you like to reward that. … It gives us some depth at places we haven't had."

Fox will serve as the main backup at first base to Mark Reynolds but also can play third base, left field and catch.

Although he is excited to be back in the big leagues, it's almost bittersweet for him, Fox said. He had been asked to play for Team USA in the World Cup and Pan-Am games in October. Now that he's a major leaguer, he won't be able to do that.

"You have to step back and say, 'OK, the big leagues is where you want to be, the big leagues is where you want to play,'" Fox said. "So at first, you're a little disappointed because I was really looking forward to doing that, representing your country, but now I am excited to be back here,"

Angle promoted again

Outfielder Matt Angle, who went hitless in seven at-bats in his first big league call-up in July, was promoted again Tuesday when the club designated Felix Pie for assignment.

The speedy Angle, 25, hit .272 and led the Tides in steals with 27. He'll be used as a fourth outfielder, defensive replacement and pinch-runner. He entered in the second inning Tuesday as a pinch-hitter when Adam Jones was forced to leave because of an undisclosed illness. He remained in center field.

"Matt fits a need," Showalter said. "He can do a lot of things. He'll go through some growing pains up here, too."

In the left-handed hitting Angle and the right-handed hitting Fox, Showalter has added two reserves who can play multiple positions and be used in various ways.

"Jake can play first and third and some outfield, and Matt can play all three [outfield positions] and run and is an intelligent, good base runner and brings some things we could use," Showalter said. "I think it is a better club as far as where we are as a team right now."

Berken gets good news

Reliever Jason Berken, who is on the disabled list with a forearm/elbow strain, had a MRA — a MRI with dye injection — on Tuesday and no structural damage was discovered. Showalter said the test backed up the initial diagnosis by team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens.

Berken, who is 1-2 with a 5.80 ERA, soon might receive a cortisone shot for the swelling, but the Orioles view the report as a good one, especially because Berken's surgically repaired elbow ligament was not damaged.

"The structure and everything looked fine; it's just the inflammation we've got to get out of there," Showalter said.

Around the horn

Assuming things go as planned, the Orioles' rotation for the next few days is Jeremy Guthrie on Wednesday, Jo-Jo Reyes on Thursday, Tommy Hunter on Friday and Brian Matusz and Zach Britton for Saturday's doubleheader at Camden Yards. … Reyes (back spasms) had a work day Tuesday and reported no problems. … The Orioles soon might have to juggle Reyes' pitching schedule because his wife is nine months' pregnant. Labor will be induced Sept. 7 if the baby isn't born before that. … Short-season Single-Aberdeen manager Leo Gomez had to go home to Puerto Rico for personal reasons, so the organization's player development director, John Stockstill, has filled in as interim manager. … With two hits Monday, Nick Markakis became one of six modern-day Orioles to have 150 or more hits in five or more seasons, joining Ken Singleton (five), Brian Roberts (six), Eddie Murray and Brooks Robinson (11), and Cal Ripken Jr. (15). … First baseman Chris Davis (shoulder) is expected to arrive in Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday after going back to Texas briefly.



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