SARASOTA, Fla. - Zelous Wheeler is still adjusting his body clock after going from Arizona to Florida for spring training.
Nothing to be alarmed about.
The Orioles claimed Wheeler off waivers from the Brewers on Thursday and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk, but he’ll stay with the team through Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Tides.
“It’s been kind of crazy,” he said. “I got in last night. Everything’s fine. Just trying to get used to the time. It’s three hours behind here. But I’m ready to go.”
Wheeler was informed about the waiver claim while coming off the field Thursday. He had no idea that he was about to change organizations.
“A big surprise,” he said. “I was getting ready for a 1 o’clock game, and they told me I was picked up by the Orioles. Got in contact with the front office here, and here I am.
“I didn’t know anything about me leaving.”
Wheeler is a career .271 hitter with a .371 on-base percentage in five minor league seasons, which obviously appeals to executive vice president Dan Duquette. He can play a variety of positions, but he’s primarily a third baseman, which should create an interesting dynamic if Josh Bell remains in the organization.
(I say “if” because the Orioles will need to open up another spot on the 40-man roster before setting the 25-man roster, and Bell has been on the bubble for months. But Jai Miller is likely coming off.)
“I play a lot of different positions, but I’m just here to do my job, whatever they want me to do,” Wheeler said. “I’m mainly third base, but I’ll get the job wherever will help the team win. I’m willing to do anything.”
Wheeler mostly played shortstop in 2010 at the Double-A level, but the Orioles will probably skip that position. He’s listed at 5-10, 220 pounds. Trust me, he doesn’t look like a shortstop.
Wheeler dabbled in catching in the Arizona Fall League.
“I’m trying to do a little bit with,” he said, “but it’s a work in progress.”
Meanwhile, Dana Eveland remains in limbo after the Orioles designated him for assignment to create a spot for Wheeler on the 40-man roster. Eveland continues to throw and work out at the complex, but he dresses and leaves before the games.
Eveland said he hasn’t heard anything from his agent about possible interest from other clubs. He’s indicated that he’d be willing to accept an outright assignment to Norfolk if he clears waivers and the Orioles want to keep him.