Moeller weighs options after reassignment
Orioles like Tatum's defensive skills as backup catcher
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles informed veteran Chad Moeller on Monday that he will be reassigned to Minor League camp, effectively handing over the backup catcher position to 27-year-old Craig Tatum.
"We want to see how this unfolds with Tatum," manager Dave Trembley said after Tuesday's 10-9 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
"This doesn't mean that it's etched in stone, but we want to give Tatum a shot. We like the way he throws, and we're confident that he can work with the pitchers, and [pitching coach Rick] Krantiz and [bench coach Jeff] Datz on the game reports and scouting reports. We want to give him an opportunity to do that."
The move comes as a surprise given that Moeller stayed with Baltimore with the expectation being that he would help mentor starting backstop Matt Wieters. The 35-year-old Moeller was lockermates with the 23-year-old Wieters and had built up an impressive reputation around the clubhouse given his general likeability and knowledge of the game.
"Moeller's been around," Trembley said. "He's the epitome of a professional."
A California native, Moeller has spent parts of nine seasons in the Majors, including 30 games with Baltimore last year. Trembley said president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail told Moeller that the Orioles would actively check with all 29 other teams to see whether there's any chance he can catch on in the Majors elsewhere.
If not, the Orioles would love to have a seasoned veteran like Moeller help mold a Triple-A Norfolk rotation that is expected to include prospects Jake Arrieta, Troy Patton, Brandon Erbe, Chris Tillman and Alfredo Simon.
"[Moeller] understands very well, and it's difficult for him right now," Trembley said. "He's 35; the days of his career are dwindling. I told him we'd love to have him go to Triple-A."
"He's going to have to come to us and tell us what he wants to do."
Moeller wasn't sure what the next step was for him and said he planned to talk to his family first. Obviously any Major League interest from another club could alter his plans significantly.
As expected, Moeller's move wasn't well-received news in the Orioles clubhouse. But Trembley saw the decision in a different light.
"This is Wieters' team; this is Wieters' pitching staff," Trembley said. "We're expecting an awful lot of Wieters. Chad Moeller is not there for Wieters anymore."
"I think it's a compliment instead of a negative that should be taken by the clubhouse."
The move was defense-oriented, as the Orioles are high on Tatum's arm and thought Moeller wasn't as good at throwing out baserunners. Any offense provided from Tatum -- who went 2-for-5 with an RBI on Tuesday -- would be a bonus.
Claimed off waivers from Cincinnati in the offseason, Tatum has appeared in a career 26 Major League games. This will be his first Opening Day roster.
Pie will be in Opening Day lineup
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Felix Pie will be the Orioles' Opening Day left fielder, a decision manager Dave Trembley has been hinting at for days, but made official after Tuesday's game.
"I got to call Pie in [to the office] and say, Pie you are going to be the Opening Day left fielder in Tampa [April 6]. You have really improved; you've earned it," Trembley said. "This is not a slight on [Nolan] Reimold, but this is the right thing for Reimold. He's not 100 percent."
Reimold has been slowed this spring by offseason surgery on his left Achilles tendon, but he has made significant strides in the past 10 days. The 26-year-old snapped a 0-for-22 skid on March 21 and appears to be running better in the field and along the bases. Reimold has hit safely in his past five games, raising his average to .231 in 13 spring games.
Pie has put together an impressive spring campaign, going 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored on Tuesday to raise his average to .393. He is expected to share left-field duties with Reimold as part of a platoon this season.
Orioles sign Gathright to Minors deal
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles signed outfielder Joey Gathright to a Minor League deal prior to Tuesday's game. Gathright also received an invitation to Major League Spring Training and was expected to report to Ed Smith Stadium later in the day.
The 28-year-old Gathright was released by the Blue Jays on Sunday after signing a Minor League deal with the club in the offseason.
This will mark Gathright's second go-around in the Orioles organization. He batted .329 (106-322) with 24 stolen bases in 80 games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2009 in between a pair of stints in the Majors. Gathright began last season with the Chicago Cubs (20 games) and appeared in 17 games with the Boston Red Sox after his 80 games with the Tides.
In 445 Major League games with Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Chicago and Boston, Gathright has batted .263 (309-1175) with 80 stolen bases. He is not expected to make the team's Opening Day roster, but he will provide some outfield depth for the Orioles.
Orioles cut eight players from roster
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles optioned Chris Tillman, Alberto Castillo and Justin Turner to Triple-A Norfolk before Tuesday's game, trimming a total of eight players from the club's Major League Spring Training roster.
Although Tillman's demotion was the news of the day -- giving the fifth starter spot to David Hernandez -- manager Dave Trembley also raved about the strides made by the left-handed Castillo.
"Castillo had a great camp," Trembley said. "I put Castillo in the category with a lot of the other guys who have shown a tremendous amount of improvement."
"It was very difficult to tell him [of the cut] because he feels like he can get people out, whether they are right-handed or left-handed, and I really can't argue with him."
A Cuban defect, Castillo was believed to be in direction contention with non-roster invitee Will Ohman for the team's lefty specialist role. In nine games, he allowed two earned runs, pitching to a 2.08 ERA with four strikeouts and no walks.
Catcher Adam Donachie and outfielder Jeff Salazar were also reassigned to Minor League camp. Baltimore will hang on to infielder Scott Moore and right-handed pitchers Alfredo Simon and Ross Wolf, although they have also been reassigned to Minor League camp. The trio will stay in Major League camp to provide depth.
"Simon betrayed common medicine," Trembley said. "He came back from Tommy John surgery [performed May 5, 2009] and was ready to go, Day One, in camp."
The 28-year-old Simon will get the start in Friday's game in Tampa, Fla., against the Yankees, and will report to Triple-A camp after that. Simon allowed five earned runs in five innings -- three of which came in his last appearance March 20 -- and strung together three straight scoreless outings prior to that.
"I think he will be up here at some point in time this year in some capacity," Trembley said of Simon.
The moves leave the Orioles with 33 players left in camp.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.