Friday was one of the most fascinating days in recent Orioles history.
Not only was Matt Wieters catching for first time in 13 months, but Brian Matusz’s eight-game suspension for having a foreign substance on his arm was upheld. And, to add to that, Everth Cabrera, who was looked upon as a no-brainer signing in February, was designated for assignment.
Wieters, who is not ready to catch on consecutive days, was activated from the 60-day disabled list, nearly a year after Tommy John surgery.
He caught six innings of a Grapefruit League game in Sarasota on March 17, but was shut down the next day, and now is back after a careful rehabilitation.
Steve Clevenger, who impressed in his brief time, was sent back to Norfolk because the Orioles simply can’t afford to keep three catchers while playing a man short.
The Orioles thought they made a good case in Matusz’s appeal on Wednesday. They felt that their case was stronger than the one Milwaukee relief pitcher Will Smith had. Smith was also suspended for eight games. He had been ejected from a game on May 21, two days before Matusz had.
All along, the Orioles felt that whatever penalty Smith got, Matusz would. On Friday afternoon, the Brewers announced that Smith’s suspension was reduced to six games, but not long afterward, word came that Matusz’s would surprisingly stay at eight games.
The Orioles were prepared for a lengthy suspension. Earlier in the week, they brought up one left-hander T.J. McFarland, who can serve as a long man, and on Friday purchased the contract of Cesar Cabral, who has 12 games of major league experience with the Yankees.
Cabral is a left-hander who threw 21 2/3 scoreless innings at Bowie and Norfolk. He was a minor league signee who was not invited to major league camp. Cabral essentially replaces the left-handed Matusz.
The most interesting move was when the Orioles pulled the plug on Cabrera by designating him for assignment. He could end up at Norfolk, but because he has a hefty $2.4 million contract it’s unlikely any team will claim the .208 hitter.
Cabrera filled in for J.J. Hardy early in the season, but didn’t hit. For now, Hardy and Ryan Flaherty will be the double play combination with Rey Navarro in reserve.
While Navarro showed some shakiness in the field, he has shown some ability to hit. He batted .276 in 10 games with a homer and three RBIs.
The Orioles hope Jonathan Schoop will be ready to play sometime next month. He continues to rehab his sprained right knee in Sarasota.
Cabrera was a National League All-Star in 2013 before his 50-game suspension in the Biogenesis scandal. In 2012, he led the National League with 44 steals in 48 attempts.
This year, he had just two extra-base hits in 105 plate appearances and was successful on both of his stolen base attempts.
The Orioles signed him in hopes he could be insurance in case Hardy or Schoop got hurt. Both did hurt, but Cabrera never hit well enough to justify his place on the club.