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May 25, 2011

Tatum expected to be recalled

No final decisions have been made and this certainly shouldn't come as a surprise, but catcher Craig Tatum is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk either today or tomorrow.

Tatum, who played in 43 games last year as Matt Wieters' primary backup, batted .200 with seven RBIs in 21 games for the Tides. He returned last week after a stint on the minor league disabled list with shoulder soreness.

The Orioles have been looking to add a more traditional backup catcher to the roster to free up Jake Fox to serve in more of a utility role. They haven't had the roster flexibility to do so, but both Brian Roberts and Cesar Izturis being on the disabled list has opened up some options.

Tatum could catch tomorrow's afternoon series finale against the Kansas City Royals. In that case, the Orioles could hold off on a roster move until tomorrow, or tonight's game could force them in a different direction. Tatum is expected to arrive in Baltimore at some point today. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be recalled, as Troy Patton knows well.

I don't like to speculate on the corresponding move, and I'm told it hasn't been decided yet. But it should be pretty obvious the names that are being considered. The Orioles want second baseman Ryan Adams and first baseman Brandon Snyder to get regular at-bats. If they are not getting them in the big leagues, it probably makes more sense to have them playing every day in Triple-A. Fox also can play first base, meaning the Orioles may not need an extra infielder.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 12:28 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Minors


I'd rather see Snyder go down. Fox & Luke can platoon until Lee is back. Buck should use this week to see what Adams has, It makes no sense to leave him on the bench. Andino has proven to be nothing more than a utility type guy, keep him in that role and see if Adams' bat is MLB ready. Pie or Hardy can lead off if need be.

Jeff can you answer two questions for me. If Gonzales was playing for a contender like Boston or NY with the same contract do you think he would still be on the team?
If Tatum is so so defensively and cant even hit in the minors how does this make us stronger.

Jeff Z's reply: Tough call on Gonzo, but I would say no. As for Tatum, the Orioles obviously don't feel all that comfortable with Fox behind the plate, and feel that Fox is better suited for more of a utlity role.

Yesterday when Britton was tiring and loaded the bases right before he exited, I noticed that Showalter was warming up Bergesen in the bullpen. Since it wasn't quite a long relief situation, does the choice of almost going with Bergesen constitute the beginnings of a shift in roles for Bergesen? Or, was there just some pre-existing situation with available arms that made that warm-up choice necessary?

Jeff Z's reply: No, because of Monday's off day, the Orioles skipped Bergesen's spot int he rotation. But he's on schedule to start Saturday night in Oakland. In the mean time, the Orioles had him available in the bullpen. If they were down two runs heading into the 7th, Bergesen would have been on the mound. Buck was really trying to lay off his main back-end guys yesterday - Gregg, JJ and Koji.

Does this mean that Bergesen is about to be removed from the roster? Fox seems to have been his personal catcher lately. Just wondering since Matusz is apparently close to returning.

Jeff Z's reply: No Bergesen is scheduled to start Saturday night in Oakland. His hold on a rotation spot after that, however, is rather tenuous. Matusz wouldn't be activated from the DL until June 1.

Great news. Tatum is one of those class act guys who really deserves the opportunity. He was a trooper last year, gave us some good games behind the plate, and even took that "business move" demotion well in late July. If anyone in this organization deserves some time on the big league club, it's him.

As for "so so" defense, he's no Wieters (who is?) but I don't recall being frustrated with his presence behind the plate at all last year. If I recall, he did as well as/better than expected in his backup role.

Fox can play first, so I see no reason to keep Snyder around. Rotate Adams and Andino to get them some work, even spelling JJ once in a while, and keep this machine well oiled.

Big whup! Tatum cannot hit AAA pitching and is not a prototypical throw and catch guy. Must be somebody bouncing around the bigs or minors superor to this "stiff"


What's the deal with the AAA catcher that the O's got in the Mark Reynolds deal? I'm interested to know what he's up to and if he has anything to contribute to the club at the major league level. Although with a 2.5 catchers on the team obviously he won't be called up. Any information you have would be appreciated!

Jeff Z's reply: I don't know much about him to be honest with you. He hit really well last year at Triple-A but he hasn't hit at all since he's gotten to Norfolk.Orioles don't have a whole lot of catching depth so he's a good guy to have in the organization.

What the hey! Fox can't catch one game a week and still do all the utility stuff? Today's ballplayers are nothing but wussies! Tatum is a senseless call-up!

Jeff Z's reply: It's not about him not being able to catch more than once a week. It's about the club not wanting him to.

Thanks for the answer on Bergesen's role. That clears it up. You are always a great favorite source of real journalism on Orioels news, if you ask me.

I also really appreciate your personal insights on Tillman the other day. I understand how you prefer not to speculate on roster subtractions, esp. since you know these guys, and you have to look them in the face regularly and such frankness can create tough awkward situations going forward. I've always been optimistic on Tillman's promise, and remind myself of how young he is. That said, all of his promise has been bound up in his stuff and velocity, so it stands to reason that, if his velocity and stuff have been taking steps backward, then it should also impact how he projects in the future. At this point, I'd be very happy if he eventually turns out to be a #3 option. Anything more would be fantastic, but I am beginning to think, he might turn out to be one of those guys who we find a way to make him useful, but never quite fully reaches what we hoped for, or, if he does become a majorleague starting pitcher, the service clock works against him and he finds his way in another organization.

To add to Jeff's reply CurlyC, the other problem is that he is the only backup. Using both players in the same game creates one serious problem if one or the other gets hurt... you don't have a backup catcher.
Or, say in long extra-inning games, using Jake to pinch hit... you wouldn't be able to take him out for defensive purposes afterwards unless you want to run the risk of having Matty catch a game that just won't end.
In fewer words, it handcuffs Buck.

Reading some of these less than complimentary postings about Tatum, disparagements on ballplayers' physical abilities, their endurance, their manhood, whatever, and I think the problem is, they're playing too much fantasy league baseball...that is, looking about the game as something played by lists of statistics or avatars in a video game or something other than human. Excuse me, but these are human beings which means they have issues, physical, mental, emotional, that have to be taken into consideration if we're going to get the best out of each one of them. They're not robots; the thing is, we want them to PERFORM like machines, that is, performing the same motions game in and game out...and truth be told, that's what the best of them do. Take Bergesen for instance. Man throws a complete game shutout, throws a no hitter for six innings, against the division leading Rays and then gets hammered the next time out, lasts three innings. Why? Why couldn't he replicate his last effort? The best ones DO perform like machines, the guys who go out there and give you top level performance again and again and again, guys like Palmer and Flanagan and McGregor in their prime. CONSISTENCY. So we tend to forget sometimes, when we want that consistency, that these aren't robots. And it tells you just how awe inspiring performance of that caliber truly is. Anyway, let's just give these guys a break. Don't eviscerate Tatum before he's even caught an inning. What are we afterall? FANS, someone who should be SUPPORTING the players? Or CRITICS, looking for flaws wherever we can find them...and this usually from people who never played the game in their lives (remember Robert Duvall's character in THE NATURAL). Go O's!


some on the message board were speculating about Markakis' decreasing power numbers over the years, and it led to a question about his conditioning routine. I know that Scott had a weight lifting program he was active with during the season, can you comment on what you know about Markakis' conditioning program pre-season and/or during season?

Jeff Z's reply: I don't know too much as far as specifics, but I know in the offseason, Nick works out with the team's former strength and conditioning coach Jay Shiner, who run a fitness center around here. Look, I know there is all this talk suddenly about his workout regime, and this will sound weird, but if you've seen him in the clubhouse this is a strong guy. This is a muscular guy. He has a wiry build, but he by no means looks weak walking around the clubhouse. has nothing to do with Fox being a wussy. The fact is, when a guy is your primary backup C, you don't use him as a utility guy as much because you need him on the bench in case your C gets hurt.

Thanks, Jeff.

Great win for the O's tonight.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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