SARASOTA, Fla. - To say the least, it was a confusing play in the ninth inning of yesterday's game. Dylan Bundy was pitching against Tampa Bay with a man on third and none out of a 3-3 game. He threw a pitch in the dirt. Right after that, the umpire at third base ruled the runner could advance to home.
What had happened? A balk?
No. Actually the runner was awarded two bases (although he only needed one in this case to score) when O's catcher Luis Exposito touched the ball with his catcher's mask.
"I blocked the ball, then I tried to pass it to my glove with my mask and I guess you couldn't do that," Exposito said. "I thought he called time and thought the play was over. It was a mistake. I had no idea that was a rule. Now I know, won't do it again. I'm sure I've done it before, just never been called for it. I'd never seen that before. Was a weird play."
Yes it was. Some days, you do see something new.
Exposito was claimed on waivers by the Orioles from Boston last April 17. He had been with the Boston organization since being selected in the 31st round of the 2005 draft. He hit .268 in 55 games last season at Triple-A Norfolk and went 1-for-18 in two stints with the Orioles, his first ever games at the big league level.
He is trying to show the staff here that he could help the Orioles if they need him later this summer.
"I think I've been playing fine, doing what I have to do. Go out and work hard," he said. "People's evaluations are people's evaluations. I have my own. I feel I'm a good player and I'm here for a reason. Just want to grab a hold of the opportunity."
Exposito is 8-for-20 (.400) with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs in 12 spring training games.
While a player like Matt Wieters knows he is here just to get ready for the season, Exposito is quite aware that is not the case for him and he has to try to make a good impression with any playing time he gets.
"I try to go to every spring training ready," Exposito said. "I don't have job security so I can't just get ready for the season. So I'm here trying to win a position so I can keep up my life-long dream and my career. For some guys here we are under the microscope."