The long-awaited return of All-Star catcher Matt Wieters headlined a series of roster moves for the Orioles prior to the start of a three-game series in Cleveland this weekend.
In addition to the activation of Wieters from the 60-day disabled list, the Orioles recalled infielder Rey Navarro and selected the contract of left-handed relief pitcher Cesar Cabral from Triple-A Norfolk. To make room on the 25-man roster for those three, Baltimore optioned right-handed pitcher Mike Wright and catcher Steve Clevenger to Norfolk and designated veteran infielder Everth Cabrera for assignment.
In the Orioles lineup for the first time since May 10, 2014, Wieters was catching and batting fifth on Friday night. The 29-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery last June 17 and is expected to catch every other day for the time being, sharing starting duties with Caleb Joseph.
The promotion of Cabral was in response to left-handed reliever Brian Matusz beginning his eight-game suspension that was upheld after Wednesday’s appeal hearing. Baltimore will now play a man down during his ban, but the 26-year-old Cabral hasn’t allowed a run this season in 21 2/3 innings split between Norfolk and Double-A Bowie.
The 25-year-old Navarro is beginning his third stint with the Orioles this season. He is 8-for-29 with a home run and three RBIs with Baltimore in 2015.
The decision to demote Wright is a clear indication that manager Buck Showalter will give the ball to right-handed pitcher Bud Norris for Sunday’s finale in Cleveland. Norris is currently on the 15-day disabled list after coming down with bronchitis last month and sports a 9.88 ERA in 2015, leading many to wonder if this will be his final chance in the starting rotation despite him winning 15 games a year ago.
Wright would figure to be called upon by the Orioles again at some point after pitching extremely well in his first two starts and posting a 2.96 ERA in four outings. It’s clear that the 25-year-old needs to continue working on his secondary pitches, but he could be a real factor as a bullpen arm if not asked to return to the Orioles rotation later this season.
Cabrera becomes the second veteran player to be designated for assignment in the last two weeks after outfielder Alejandro De Aza was designated and eventually dealt to Boston earlier this week. Signed to a one-year, $2.4 million contract in late February, Cabrera batted only .208 with a .479 on-base plus slugging percentage. In 29 games while primarily filling in for the injured J.J. Hardy in April, Cabrera posted minus-0.7 wins above replacement, according to BaseballReference.com.
In addition to Wieters, Hardy made his return to the Orioles lineup on Friday after a four-game absence, batting eighth and playing shortstop.