CHICAGO - Orioles manager Buck Showalter explained earlier today why the Orioles wanted Luis Exposito, who was claimed on waivers from the Red Sox.
“He’s a catcher,” Showalter said, grinning.
That’ll do it.
“We’re pretty thin there depth-wise,” Showalter continued. “I’m not sure exactly where they’re going to send him or what the plan is, but we’ve had some good reports on him, the majority of them. I’m sure the Red Sox know him a lot longer than we do. They’ve had him a lot longer. We’re in a little different position than there are depthwise. It was a good addition that again strengthens our 40-man roster. That’s something we didn’t have.”
I’m told that Exposito will report to Triple-A Norfolk.
“We’re an injury away from really having some challenges catching-wise,” Showalter said. “It’s something we’ve identified. We thought we had done it between Ronny (Paulino) and (Taylor) Teagarden. We’re still not sure where we are physically with Taylor.
“(Exposito) has options and he gives us some flexibility and maneuverability with that position. He’s had some experience at high levels, and when you watch how the off-season 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.
“A lot of times, you see these clubs give roster spots to these six-year free agents in order to get the top guys right out of the chute. 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 highly of recently.”
The Orioles designated infielder Josh Bell for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
“Let’s let that process move through,” Showalter said. “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 that Dan (Duquette) 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.”
The Orioles believed over the winter that Bell still held some trade value, but he didn’t make it through the first round of cuts in spring training and was 3-for-32 with Norfolk.
I asked Showalter whether he was surprised by the early struggles of Endy Chavez and Nick Johnson after their impressive springs.
“I’m not really,” he replied. “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.”
As Showalter noted, it’s pointless to overreact in either direction during such a small sample size, including if both players were tearing the cover off the ball.
As for tonight’s game, Wei-Yin Chen has tossed three scoreless innings, allowing one hit, walking one and striking out one. He’s thrown 49 pitches, 33 for strikes.
Nolan Reimold made a diving catch in shallow left field to rob Brent Morel in the first inning.
Matt Wieters has the Orioles’ lone hit, a single in the second inning. Mark Reynolds grounded into a double play, and White Sox starter John Danks has faced the minimum number of batters through the third.
The White Sox continue to spell the catcher’s name “Weiters” on the press box score sheets.
Instant update: Reimold walked to open the fourth.
Update II: Chen’s line so far: 5 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 76 pitches, 51 strikes.
We’re still scoreless in the top of the sixth. The Orioles are saving all their runs for the 10th.