CHICAGO — – In need of organizational catching depth, the Orioles claimed catcher Luis Exposito off waivers from the Red Sox, the club announced Tuesday.
To make room for Exposito on the club's 40-man roster, the Orioles have designated third baseman Josh Bell for assignment.
The Orioles signed Taylor Teagarden in the offseason to be Matt Wieters' backup but he is on the disabled list with back problems. That allowed non-roster invitee Ronny Paulino, who was likely to begin the season at Triple-A, to make the Orioles' 25-man roster out of camp. Teagarden was slated to visit a back specialist this week in Florida. There's still no timetable for his return.
"We're an injury away from really having some challenges catching-wise," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's something we've identified. We thought we had done it between Ronny and Teagarden. We're still not sure where we are physically with Taylor."
"He's got options and he gives us some flexibility and maneuverability with that position," Showalter added. "He's had some experience at high levels, and when you watch how the offseason goes with six-year free-agents, those guys just fly off the board. We were lucky to get Ronny and trade for Taylor and it's an area we've identified. Who knows? He's still a young man. This is not some 28-, 29-year-old journeyman catcher. This is a guy who's been thought very high of recently."
As for Bell, once a top prospect in the Dodgers organization, it's been a steady fall. Bell, 25, owned a .200/.221/.264 line in 79 games with the Orioles in 2010 and 2011. This spring, he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, where he was hitting just .094/.256/.250 in nine games for the Tides.
The Orioles acquired Bell and pitcher Steve Johnson in the trade that sent reliever George Sherrill to the Dodgers on July 30, 2009.
"Let that process move through," Showalter said of Bell. "He could still be with us and we still like the potential he has. It's just the need of our organization for someone like Exposito. That's really what it came down to. And I'm sure there were other people, Dan and the front office considered. It's not like we're moving on from Josh. We're hoping he gets through and that he continues to be someone with some upside for us. We'll see how everyone perceives him now."
O's minor-league catcher Ohlman suspended 50 games
A second Orioles minor-league catcher has been suspended for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Progam.
Michael Ohlman received a 50-game suspension for his second violation of the drug policy, the office of the commissioner of baseball announced Tuesday. The suspension was for a drug of abuse, which means it was not for use of a performance-enhancing drug.
This spring, catcher Brian Ward also received a 50-game suspension.
Ohlman's suspension will begin immediately, but he is recovering from a shoulder injury sustained during an automobile accident during spring training. He is on the roster at Single-A Delmarva.
Because he was from nearby Bradenton, Ohlman joined the Orioles' big-league spring training camp in Sarasota when non-roster invitee Paulino was held up with visa issues.
He was an 11th-round pick for the Orioles out of Lakewood Ranch (Fla.) High School, but received a $995,000 signing bonus that was much higher than the slotted bonus.
He is coming off of a season at Delmarva in which he put up a .224/.320/.307 line with four homers and 51 RBIs. He's never been above 15th on the Orioles' Baseball America prospects list.
Showalter now worried about slumping reserves
Two of the Orioles top players this spring — reserves Endy Chavez and Nick Johnson — have struggled mightily early on.
After a 0-for-3 night Monday, Chavez — who hit .444 this spring — is 1-for-15 this season. Johnson, who made the team as a non-roster invitee this spring by putting up a .292/.393/.458 line, is hitless in 16 at bats.
"I shouldn't be surprised," Showalter said. "I'm not really. It's like yesterday I wanted to play them a couple days in a row to get them going, and they will. They've got too much of a track record when they're healthy of being good offensive players. It will happen, it just hasn't happened in 15 or 16 at bats."
Bundy runs hitless inning streak to nine
The Orioles' top pitching prospect, right-hander Dylan Bundy, threw three hitless innings Tuesday in his home debut for Class-A Delmarva against Hagerstown.
In nine professional innings, Bundy has yet to allow a hit. He struck out three on the night, so he's tallied 15 strikeouts in nine innings.
Bundy allowed his first baserunner of the season — 27 batters into his pro career — with a two-out walk in the third inning.
The radio broadcast at Delmarva said Bundy hit 102 mph on the radar gun, but the Shorebirds Twitter account said Bundy was clocked at 98.
Wieters slam makes history