SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles claimed infielder Zelous Wheeler off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday afternoon and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk.
To make room on the 40-man roster, they designated left-hander Dana Eveland for assignment.
Wheeler, 25, has played in 538 minor league games over five seasons. He can play third base, second base, shortstop
and the outfield.
Wheeler was 3-for-11 for the Brewers this spring.
“Wheeler’s good at controlling the strike zone and getting on base,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette. “He showed good extra-base power last year. In just 300 at-bats he had 30 extra-base hits. And he’s a good defensive third baseman. That’s his best position. He also has exceptional leadership ability.
“So, the kid gives us good on-base capability and good defense. And I believe he’s developing power. He has power, and he’s learning how to use it.”
The Orioles scouted Wheeler on Wednesday before claiming him.
“We had good reports on him, from some people who are very familiar with him,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Good athlete, played a lot of positions, high walk totals. We like him. He’s got skills to play a lot of places. Efficient hitter. He’s a good addition. It’s a good (40-man) roster exchange, hopefully. We talked a lot in the offseason about just trying to get a little better in each spot on the 40-man roster.”
The Orioles acquired Eveland, 28, from the Dodgers at the Winter Meetings for two minor leaguers. Eveland was 1-2 with a 3.46 ERA and 17 hits allowed in 13 spring innings. In his final appearance, he allowed three runs and six hits in four innings during Wednesday’s start against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin.
Eveland, who signed a $750,000 contract in December to avoid arbitration, said he’ll accept an outright assignment to Norfolk if he clears waivers and the Orioles want to keep him in the organization.
“I don’t know how Dan really feels about me. Hopefully, he likes me,” Eveland said. “I know he’s got to make some tough
decisions, and unfortunately I was on the wrong end of one. It sucks for me but good for the team, good problem to have with this many good arms. Hopefully, if I do go to Triple-A, eventually you’re going to need extra arms. If I keep throwing well, hopefully I’ll be back.
“I feel like I’m a big leaguer. I feel like I’ve got big league stuff, and I feel like I’ve proved that over my career. I’ve had
some goods and some bads, but last year I threw the ball really well all year. I know I’m a big league pitcher and I might have to go to Triple-A to prove it again, but oh well.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)