Zaun ready to help in backup role
Veteran to assist with mentoring O's top prospect Wieters
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles pushed a button and converted their catching corps on Friday, when they promoted top prospect Matt Wieters and designated veteran backstop Chad Moeller for assignment. That switch pushes Gregg Zaun into a backup role, a move he knew was coming when he signed with Baltimore.
"I knew what my situation was coming in," said Zaun, who signed with the Orioles as a free agent. "I agreed to the terms of the deal and the situation the way it was. I agreed to all of this, so now my job is to be what this team needs me to be. Whatever it is that they need me to be, that's what I'm here to do."
Zaun, who batted .209 in seven weeks as the team's starter, said that he'll be a resource for Wieters whenever the rookie wants to pick his brain. The switch-hitting veteran also said that the mentor role is a new one for him, a first in a career that has wound through 15 seasons and seven different organizations.
"I've never done it before," said Zaun. "I was either the backup or I was the guy who was going to play every day. I've never been in transition from one situation into another. But when they signed me, they were up-front. They knew it was going to happen at some point this year. I'm not going to lie and say I wish I hadn't played better or that the team wasn't in a better situation than we are so it could've postponed it. But reality is reality."
"We all knew that Matt was eventually going to come here and when he did, what role Zauny was going to play," added manager Dave Trembley. "Zaun's done a nice job. He has some things that he can help Wieters with. He's got knowledge in this division. He's been around for a long time, but I think he saw Wieters in Spring Training and realized how special he is. ... He's the backup catcher here now. That's what he is.
"He's still going to play and I'm going to tell him the day before he plays, but he's a backup catcher."
And in some respects, that almost didn't come to pass. Trembley said he had a tough decision between keeping Moeller or Zaun, both of whom signed one-year deals with options for next season.
"It was probably one of the more difficult things I've had to do," said Trembley of cutting Moeller. "I told him it's a great game and a tough business. You know, he's going to go through [waivers], and maybe somebody will claim him, or somebody will call [president of baseball operations] Andy MacPhail and ask for him. We're not going to stand in the way if another club wants him and he can go to the big leagues. Otherwise, he's agreed to go to Norfolk and be insurance for us, because he has value.
"He's going to play for a long time. That's why he's played for a long time. People want those kinds of guys on their team. People want those kind of guys in their organization."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.