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Why one Oriole has a big year coming up

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Why one Oriole has a big year coming up

One of the more interesting storylines of the 2016 season could be Caleb Joseph. At the end of last season, it looked as if Joseph could inherit Matt Wieters’ starting job.

In both 2014 and 2015, Joseph caught more games than anyone on the Orioles. Due to Wieters’ Tommy John surgery and recovery, Joseph caught 94 games last year to Wieters’ 55.

While Joseph insists that he’s delighted with Wieters’ return, he’s proven that he can be a regular major league catcher.

He just may have to wait a year.

Wieters took the $15.8 million qualifying offer in early November, and instead of the Orioles looking around for a veteran to play alongside Joseph and possibly Steve Clevenger, they suddenly had a surplus.

Clevenger was used to snare Mark Trumbo, leaving Wieters and Joseph.

MORE ORIOLES: WHY BALTIMORE'S OFFSEASON WAS A RESOUNDING SUCCESS

In Wieters’ best years (2010-13), he caught between 126 and 140 games. He may not do that again, but if Wieters catches 120 or so games, would Joseph be satisfied with playing twice a week?

While Wieters can DH and play first base, Trumbo could be the regular designated hitter. Joseph can also play first and could be the DH, too if necessary.

The Orioles have a third catcher on the 40-man roster, Francisco Pena, but he’s ticketed for Norfolk unless there’s an injury.

Joseph and Wieters both turn 30 within a few weeks of each other, and it will be interesting to see if Joseph proves himself capable of holding down the top job a year from now if Wieters leaves as a free agent.

Four months ago, most observers thought Wieters would leave and were surprised when he didn’t.

The Orioles have a promising catcher, Chance Sisco, coming to camp, but he is not quite 21 and has played only 20 games in Double-A.

If the Orioles are confident in Joseph, he could have a good career with the team—even if he didn’t reach the majors until he was nearly 28.

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

The Orioles' Manny Machado is the early leader among American League shortstops in the first results of All-Star voting released by Major League Baseball Tuesday.

Machado holds a lead of 110,131 votes over the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor. 

No other Orioles' player is on the list, and Adam Jones isn't listed among the top-15 of outfielders. 

The Astros' Carlos Correa was last year’s starting shortstop for the American League, but is in fourth place with 206,707 votes, trailing the Yankees' Didi Gregorius who has 208,583.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 19.

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton has been activated from the disabled list, six months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Assuming he's finally healthy enough to resume his role as one of the best closers in the big leagues, the question now is: How long will Britton be with the Orioles?

Britton's contract expires after this season, and Baltimore entered play Monday with the worst record in the major leagues (19-45).

So, as he stood in front of his locker and spoke excitedly about his return to the Orioles, Britton conceded that his stay in Baltimore may not extend beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"I want to pitch well and help the team, regardless of our standing or trade discussions," he said.

Asked if the next few weeks might serve as an audition for other teams, Britton replied, "I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that."

Britton made the 2016 AL All-Star team during a season in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and compiled a 0.54 ERA in 69 appearances.

He fought forearm and knee injuries last season and had only 15 saves. Then, during the winter, he tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout.

"When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues," Britton said. "There were a lot of hurdles that I overcame."

Surgery and an intense rehab program under Orioles trainer Brian Ebel enabled the 30-year-old to return sooner than many anticipated.

"The thought that he's a pitcher for us on June 11, that's remarkable," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's checked every box to get ready. I don't know what else you could possibly do."

Although Britton will be pitching for a team that's struggled mightily this season, that won't influence the intensity he will bring to the mound.

"I had some injuries the last few years, so I'm looking forward to turning the page on that and just getting back to pitching well," he said. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants to do well at this level, and that's my focus."

To adjust the roster for Britton's return, the Orioles placed right-hander Pedro Araujo on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow strain and moved outfielder Colby Rasmus to the 60-day DL.