BRADENTON, Fla. - Jake Fox is starting in left field tonight, but he’s primarily competing for the backup catching job. Though Fox could make the club in a utility role, it seems apparent that he’s mostly going head-to-head with Craig Tatum, who’s starting behind the plate against the Pirates.
Asked what he’s looking for in a backup catcher and whether versatility is a factor, manager Buck Showalter replied, “It’s a moving target. It depends on what we go with in that other spot in the infield. Someone asked me earlier if it’s possible that all three (including Matt Wieters) could make the club. That’s a possibility.
“We’re aware of what Jake brings besides the catching, but the primary focus here for us evaluating is who can be our second catcher, regardless of what happens, if we don’t take Jake. We all know that he and Vandy (Rick VandenHurk) and (Robert) Andino and a couple others are out of options but that’s not really a conversation in the meetings we’ve had like we had today. It’s just pure evaluation about where we are and where we think they are. It’s primarily focused on who can be the second catcher.”
Switching topics to left-handed relief, Showalter pointed out again that he could go in two directions: Keep a guy who’s more of a specialist (Clay Rapada?) or a guy who can go multiple innings (Mark Hendrickson?).
“It can go either way, depending on how the right-handed part of our bullpen is that gives us multiple innings,” Showalter said.
“You want to be able to withstand some tough starts by our pitchers and not have to make a lot of moves. Every time a guy doesn’t get out of the second or third inning, you don’t want to be having to make a lot of moves in your bullpen, especially early on.”
Right-hander Jason Berken could be a long man if he makes the club. He still has a minor league option left.
Update: The Orioles fell behind, 1-0, in the bottom of the first on Jose Tabata’s single and an error on catcher Craig Tatum that easily could have been charged to first baseman Brandon Snyder.
Mark Reynolds made an excellent bare-handed pickup and throw to retire Matt Diaz on a chopper to third. Tabata broke for third and should have been out, but Snyder’s throw skipped past Tatum, who raced over to cover the bag with J.J. Hardy.
Reynolds hustled to cover the plate, but Tabata scored without drawing a throw.
Bergesen threw 20 pitches, 13 for strikes.
Adam Jones reached on a bunt single in the top half of the inning, but Reynolds grounded into a double play.
Update II: Vladimir Guerrero reached for an 0-2 pitch leading off the second inning and launched it for his third home run of the spring. Fox followed with a single to right.