Fox aware he could become odd man out
O's must make decision on scuffling backup catcher
SEATTLE -- Jake Fox had a long talk with Orioles manager Buck Showalter during this weekend's series in Oakland, a conversation he hoped would bring more clarity as to where he fits on the 25-man roster, if at all.
"I think my role is still very unclear," Fox said when asked what prompted him to seek out Showalter, who he praised as a straight-shooter. "They are not seeing me perform the way they want me to, and I think that has kept him from putting me in the lineup more. Obviously, with the number of at-bats I've had, it is going to take me a few games to get back in a rhythm. We had this conversation, and [I said] I feel like I'm still the same guy I was this spring. Nothing has changed. I'm still putting the ball in play -- my timing isn't quite there, my pitch recognition isn't quite there."
"[Showalter] did tell me that once [Craig] Tatum got called up, it was going to free up some opportunities for me. And from my perspective, I'm still staying patient, waiting for those opportunities. He's putting the best team out there that he thinks can win ballgames. And he feels that I'm not that guy that's going to win games."
Fox made the Orioles out of Spring Training as a backup catcher, but the addition of Tatum last week has him in more of a bench role. Fox enters Tuesday hitting .188 in 19 games, including 12 starts, and has struggled to get consistent playing time because of those struggles.
"If a guy is playing well and hitting well, it's not that hard to find opportunities," Showalter said. "Jake hasn't made good use of the opportunities he's had, with some exceptions. We saw in Spring Training, in that environment, what he's capable of. So we will see."
Even with Derrek Lee on the disabled list, the Orioles have used several different combinations at first base, including Luke Scott and Mark Reynolds. Fox started at first base on Thursday and Friday and went 1-for-5 with a walk, a strikeout and two double-play balls. Scott, a left-handed hitter, started Tuesday's game against Mariners lefty Erik Bedard.
"When you have some injuries, you hope you will be in there more and get a chance," Fox said. "But obviously [Showalter] went in a different direction, and he's trying to piece together a team to win until those guys get back."
With Lee's activation coming as early next week, Fox knows he could be the odd man out on the Orioles' roster. He is out of options, meaning the organization could try to work out a trade with another club before potentially losing him on waivers. That's how the Orioles acquired Fox from Oakland last season.
It's a situation Fox is aware of, but not one he's focusing on. He prefers to use his energy trying to get back on track at the plate.
"I know there's going to be a lot of moves made," said Fox, who is with his third organization. "When Tatum came up, I was like, 'OK, they got a backup catcher, now what are they going to do with me?' So, those questions always go through your mind. But if you get wrapped up in that, it prevents you from going out and doing your job.
"Obviously, when D. Lee comes back, there is going to be some kind of move made. If it's me, it's me. If it's not, then I'm going to do what I've been doing. Keep working hard and trying to improve at the job they've given me."
Simon, Viola brilliant Monday out of bullpen
SEATTLE -- If there was a silver lining to Monday's 4-3 loss, it was the job done by the bullpen, which held the Mariners scoreless after Jake Arrieta allowed four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings.
The performance was headlined by Alfredo Simon, who entered with the bases loaded and got a pair of strikeouts to rescue Arrieta, who struggled with his command in the abbreviated outing. Making his third apperance of the season, Simon tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings, holding Seattle to two hits before handing the ball to Pedro Viola, who tossed 1 2/3 perfect innings in his season debut.
"What a great job that Simon and Viola did," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "That was impressive. That's why we had a chance to win, because of what Simon and Viola did. I was proud of them. [For] Viola's debut this year, that was pretty impressive."
Viola was 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 17 relief appearances for Double-A Bowie and was promoted to take the roster spot of Brad Bergesen on Sunday. The lefty made two appearances for the Orioles last season, allowing two runs over 1 1/3 innings.
Simon picked up the win in his first outing off the restricted list and rebounded nicely from Friday's appearance in Oakland, in which he allowed three runs on four hits and two walks over two-plus innings.
"I feel more comfortable with my pitches, with my splitter, just trying to get it down," Simon said. "My two-seamer is much better right now. I just feel real comfortable right now."
First baseman Derrek Lee will take live batting practice in extended spring training on Wednesday and could be sent out to one of the team's Minor League affiliates shortly after that. How many at-bats or games he needs is yet to be determined. ... Jake Arrieta came to the O's clubhouse Tuesday afternoon with no problems after being struck with an Ichiro Suzuki liner in the third inning Monday. He is on track to make his next start as scheduled. ... Justin Duchscherer (left hip strain) will throw four innings in an extended spring game on Thursday.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.