New Orioles addition Zelous Wheeler arrived at camp Sunday ready to play in the team’s Grapefruit League finale against the Rays at Ed Smith Stadium.
The Orioles claimed Wheeler off waivers from the Brewers on Thursday, part of a move than included the team designating left-hander Dana Eveland for assignment.
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Wheeler, who was training with the Brewers in Arizona when he found out he had been claimed, said hearing the news was a surprise.
“Big surprise,” he said. “I was coming off the field from my workout and I was getting ready for a 1 o’clock game and they said, ‘We need to see you,’ and they told me I was picked up by the Orioles. Here I am now.”
Wheeler was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk, but since minor league camps break after Sunday’s games, he will be with the big league team for the rest of the exhibition season. He was on the available player rosters for Sunday’s game, wearing No. 99.
The 5-foot-10, 220-pound Wheeler comes to the Orioles primarily as a third baseman, but can also play second and left fielder. He also played shortstop for the entire 2010 season in Double-A, but committed 32 errors there. He's also trying to learn how to catch.
“A work in progress,” he said.
Other than Wheeler’s positional flexibility, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has to like his career .371 on-base percentage in five minor league seasons. Last year playing at Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville, Wheeler put up a .272/.378/.459 line with 23 doubles, nine homers and 38 RBIs in 329 plate appearances.
“I play a lot of different positions, but I’m just here to do my job whatever they want me to do,” Wheeler said.