AL Notes: Orioles, Webb, Walker, Martinez

Though they’ve lost Matt Wieters for the season to Tommy John surgery, the Orioles aren’t actively shopping for upgrades at the catcher position, executive VP Dan Duquette told reporters (including Rich Dubroff of “It’s always a challenge to change catchers during the season because the catcher is involved in so many factors of the game,” said Duquette. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see the O’s eventually poke around in the catcher market, though, as Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley haven’t shown much value at the plate. Joseph, at least, has been outstanding on defense. He ranks as one of the best pitch-framers in the game (via Baseball Prospectus and Matthew Carruth’s StatCorner), and his 47 percent success rate in catching base stealers leads the league.

Here are a few more items from the O’s and the rest of the American League …

  • Randy Wolf spent more than a year away from the Orioles organization between the end of the 2012 season and the minor league deal he signed to return on Sunday, but he seems to have helped the Orioles even when he wasn’t with the club. Roch Kubatko of tweets that Duquette credits Wolf for Ryan Webb signing with the team this offseason, as Wolf gave a ringing endorsement of the organization to Webb when he was a free agent. Webb’s strong command and elite ground-ball rate have led to 32 2/3 innings of 2.48 ERA ball out of the Baltimore ‘pen — a bargain considering the two-year, $4.5MM deal he signed with the O’s.
  • The Mariners‘ trade deadline plans could be dictated in part by how top prospect Taijuan Walker throws over his next several outings, notes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Though Seattle is not necessarily intent on dealing him, a return to health and top form would provide options, says Morosi. Presumably, Walker could also be looked to for a boost to the club’s own rotation.
  • It is no accident that J.D. Martinez has had his sudden breakout with the Tigers, according to a report from George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit assistant GM Al Avila, who has had his eye on Martinez for quite some time, says that he “always felt [Martinez] was a good hitter” and saw him going through highs and lows much like many other young players. Of course, Avila acknowledges that he has still been surprised by Martinez’s stunning .310/.344/.593 line and seven home runs through 122 plate appearances since signing a minor league pact with the Tigers late in the spring.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.

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