Remember Taylor Teagarden? The Orioles traded minor league pitcher Randy Henry (and a PTBNL) to the Texas Rangers to aquire Teagarden to back up Matt Wieters behind the plate. At the time (and still), I liked the move because it gave the Orioles some depth. Furthermore at 28, Teagarden is also younger than some of the other relief catchers that the Orioles have had the past few seasons. Nevertheless, Teagarden has been having back problems since the beginning of camp; he had a CT scan and x-rays yesterday, and he’ll be visiting a back specialist today.
This appears to be the same old story in a sense in that the O’s aquire a player that immediately gets hurt or damaged. As we’ve seen in the past with Brian Roberts, back problems are tough to shake given the weak nature of a human back in general. (A doctor told me that once; the back is a naturally weak part of your body.) Manager Buck Showalter said that at this point he’s not ruling Teagarden out for Opening Day in Baltimore…take that for what it’s worth. After having VISA problems and not reporting to camp until last weekend the Orioles finally got Ronnie Paulino into the clubhouse. At the moment you can look at Paulino as the back up catcher in the absence of Teagarden. Paulino actually got into yesterday’s game (a 7-7 tie in 10 innings with the Rays), and lined an RBI-single to left field on the first pitch he saw. So perhaps not all is lost, however it would be a concern for the Orioles if Teagarden has to start the season on the DL.
In more positive injury news, Nick Markakis will get into his first game this afternoon against the Pirates in Sarasota. In case you’ve forgotten (and I doubt you have), Markakis had abdominal surgery back in January from which he’s still recovering. As has been reported here and in various other outlets in the past, Markakis is the type of guy that only needs a few spring training games to get into regular season shape. Markakis will DH today, and Buck Showalter also said that he’ll get his first action in the field on March 20th…
…which brings me back to a point I made yesterday and in the past. March 19th is the lone scheduled off day for the O’s during camp. (Grapefruit League play culminates on April 1st with a game in Sarasota against Tampa after which the Orioles will play two exhibition games against colleges at Ed Smith Stadium, then fly to Norfolk, VA to play an exhibition game against their triple-A affiliate Norfolk Tides. The O’s will have an off day on Thursday, April 5th before Opening Day at Camden Yards on April 6th.) In my opinion I suspect that we’ll start to see things getting a bit more serious after that off day in terms of guys getting put into a starting rotation and seeing more significant playing time in the field. This is evidenced by Markakis getting his first start in right field coming out of that off day.
It’s unclear in how many games we’ll see Markakis from now until March 2oth. I doubt he’ll play everyday, however I’m sure we’ll see him more than just today as well. What else is there for him to do; stay home and watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?!
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Update (11 AM): According to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, Teagarden has a slight ligament tear and will begin rehab in about three days. His status for Opening Day is in jeapordy at this point. I would expect that Ronnie Paulino will get more and more work in the upcoming weeks behind the dish, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Teagarden get sent to extended spring training once he’s rehabed.