Wieters back; injured Tatum sent down
With catcher returning, roster spot needed to be cleared
BALTIMORE -- Orioles catcher Craig Tatum exited with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning of Saturday's game with a right hand contusion, a minor injury that cost him his spot on the 25-man roster when catcher Matt Weiters returned from the disabled list on Sunday.
While X-rays came back negative, Tatum's injury was serious enough to necessitate a roster move. The catcher was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
Tatum suffered the injury when reliever Jason Berken's first pitch to Twins outfielder Jason Repko, a 91-mph fastball, hit off Repko's bat and struck his bare hand, bringing head athletic trainer Richard Bancells out to the mound. Tatum walked off the field with Bancells and was replaced behind the plate by Fox with the Orioles trailing, 5-2.
"I'm just glad I had [my hand] loose and not tight," Tatum said. "I thought it was broken just because it swelled up so fast. I thought it was the knuckle, but that was just the swelling.
"It's just a bruise. The [medical staff] said it wasn't broken and in a couple of days, I should be fine."
Still, the ill-timed injury gave the Orioles an easy decision, particularly considering Tatum has an option remaining while the more-versatile Fox would have to clear waivers to stay in the organization.
Interim manager Juan Samuel said prior to Saturday's game that the Orioles will probably stay with eight relievers and play with a three-man bench given their recent struggles in the starting rotation. He also indicated that team couldn't afford to carry three catchers with the current roster being what it is.
While Tatum has excelled as Wieters' primary backup, the Orioles would almost certainly lose Fox by exposing him to the waiver wire, given that he can play multiple positions and has been effective, hitting three homers and five RBIs in his first 15 games with Baltimore.
Johnson likely to throw BP on Monday
BALTIMORE -- Orioles setup man Jim Johnson (right elbow inflammation) is scheduled to throw batting practice at the team's Spring Training facility in Sarasota, Fla. in what is considered the final step before sending the right-hander out on a rehab assignment.
Johnson will likely throw batting practice on Monday, and interim manager Juan Samuel is optimistic about his progress and the possibility of a fully-healthy Orioles team, which is expected to get back catcher Matt Wieters on Sunday.
"We are getting close to seeing the club that we put together in Spring Training here," Samuel said. "Hopefully, at some point, we'll get JJ and the rest of the guys back and you can have the team that we were going to have on Opening Day for a long time. "
Johnson was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day DL on Wednesday to free up a 40-man roster spot and has been sidelined since mid-May in an injury believed to be suffered in the second game of the season. Johnson has been shut down once before and throwing BP will be the furthest he's come along in his progression.
Outfielder Lou Montanez (left oblique strain) is also rehabbbing in Sarsota and Samuel said he has started participating in baseball related-activities.
Interim manager Juan Samuel said he will try to get center fielder Adam Jones a day off soon. ... Lefty reliever Will Ohman has set a franchise record for most appearances without a decision with Friday's two-out outing. ... Second baseman Brian Roberts is expected to rest on Sunday and get the second game in Toronto (Tuesday) off, as the Orioles attempt to ease him back. ... Last year's third-round Draft pick Tyler Townsend was promoted from Class A to Class A Advanced. Over his past nine games, Townsend is hitting .474 (18-38) with six doubles, two triples, three home runs and 16 RBIs.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.