Orioles claim Rio Ruiz off waivers (and other notes)

LAS VEGAS - The Orioles subtracted Maryland native Ryan Meisinger from their 40-man roster today and claimed infielder Rio Ruiz off waivers from the Braves.

The Cardinals claimed Meisinger before he could clear, ending the feel-good story of the local kid pitching for his favorite team. Meisinger attended Northern High School in Calvert County and made his major league debut on June 29 at Camden Yards.

Ruiz, 24, is a left-handed hitting third baseman taken by the Astros in the fourth round of the 2012 draft out of Bishop Amat Memorial (Calif.) High School. Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias had just joined the Houston organization as director of scouting and made the selection.

Traded to the Braves in January 2015 in the Evan Gattis deal, Ruiz appeared in 72 games over the past three seasons and batted .189/.282/.302 with five doubles, one triple, four home runs and 21 RBIs. He was limited to 15 plate appearances this summer after receiving 173 in 2017.

Ruiz is a career .263/.344/.404 hitter in seven minor league seasons. He appeared in 130 games with Triple-A Gwinnett this year and registered a .269/.322/.390 slash line. His career high in home runs is 16 with Gwinnett in 2017.

Primarily a third baseman at every level, Ruiz also has experience at first base and played in 20 games in left field and 11 in right this summer with Gwinnett.

The Orioles could give Ruiz a shot at unseating Renato Núñez at third base or let him compete for a bench spot.

Meisinger-Black-Sidebar.jpgMeisinger, an 11th-round pick in 2015 out of Radford University, posted a 6.43 ERA and 1.333 WHIP in 18 games with the Orioles. He was forced into a Sept. 26 start at Fenway Park in the first game of a doubleheader, the options limited for a depleted rotation, and surrendered five runs in one-third of an inning in a 19-3 loss to the Red Sox.

Meisinger didn’t allow a run in seven of his nine appearances in September. He was expected to come off the 40-man over the winter and the Orioles were unable to get him through waivers.

The 40-man roster continues to hold 38 players as the Orioles approach Thursday morning’s Rule 5 draft.

* The Orioles don’t have a manager at the Winter Meetings and therefore can’t participate in the daily media scrums. However, new Reds manager David Bell has a younger brother, Mike, who’s interviewed for the Orioles vacancy.

David Bell had plenty of good things to say about his sibling, currently the Diamondbacks’ director of player development, and it won’t be treated as breaking news. Even in this environment.

“He’s had so much experience leading,” Bell said, “and leading a player development system is great preparation really for anything in this game, because there’s so many people that you’re in charge of. You have 80-plus staff and 200-plus players. The experience and the practice of creating a culture and creating a great environment for all those people to work in, he’s definitely prepared. And I know he would do great given the opportunity.”

The Bell baseball family tree is legendary, including grandfather Gus Bell’s playing career and father Buddy Bell’s career as an All-Star third baseman, manager and front office executive. David and Mike could provide another twist.

“I think we’re all grateful to be in positions in this game, to be able to contribute to the game, have an impact on people and players,” said David Bell. “And I know he’s very grateful for the job he’s in. But I think he’s prepared for this. And it would be another opportunity for him to grow and he’s prepared.”

Asked how they differ, Bell replied, “I would say we’re a lot alike. I don’t know that he would say that. I hope I’m a lot like he is. He’s ...obviously we grew up in the same family where we were taught a lot about the game from my dad, but also my grandfather, and so we have that anchor of that old school knowledge and experience of being around the clubhouse as a kid.

“I think we are different people. But when it comes to what is important to us, the players, the communication, the teamwork, things that are really important, I think we’re very similar.”

The Orioles also have reportedly talked to Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde, Royals quality control/catching coach Pedro Grifol and Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond.

Astros bench coach Joe Espada won’t interview for the job, which is his choice. The Orioles hadn’t reach out to former shortstop Mike Bordick heading into the Winter Meetings.

* Former Orioles hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh has been spotted at the Winter Meetings.

Coolbaugh has interviewed for multiple jobs in the minors. He isn’t expected to be retained on the new Orioles manager’s staff.

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