With second baseman Jonathan Schoop already on the disabled list and infielder Tim Beckham potentially joining him, the Orioles claimed left-handed-hitting utility man Jace Peterson off waivers from the New York Yankees on Tuesday to provide immediate infield help.
He is expected to report to the major league club Wednesday, the Orioles announced.
Beckham, who left Monday’s game after aggravating his groin running to first base following an eighth-inning single, could be placed on the DL as soon as Tuesday before the Orioles’ series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Camden Yards.
Peterson, a former first-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres, has 386 games of major league experience, primarily as a second baseman, though he’s also played third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions at the big league level.
“Peterson is a versatile player who has experience playing all over the field who had his best year in 2015 playing second base,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said in a text message. “Given our need and his experience, he should be able to contribute right away to the O’s.”
Peterson played in a career-high 152 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2015, including 137 starts at second base, while hitting .239/.314/.335 with 23 doubles, five triples, six homers and 52 RBIs, while going 12-for-22 on stolen-base attempts.
He is a .234/.319/.331 career hitter with the Padres, Braves and Yankees. Peterson was nontendered a contract by the Braves in December and signed a minor league deal with the Yankees in the offseason. The Yankees called up Peterson from Triple-A on April 7, but he played in just three games, going 3-for-10 with New York before the team designated him for assignment and run him through outright waivers.
If Beckham lands on the DL, he would be the sixth Orioles player placed there. Relief is on the horizon. Trey Mancini, who sat out two games with a right knee injury, returned to action Monday as a pinch hitter and could return to the starting lineup as a designated hitter Tuesday. Mark Trumbo, who opened the season on the DL with a quad strain, is in the middle of a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
And while Schoop resumed baseball activities in his recovery from an oblique injury, the Orioles will be careful pushing him because of the possibility of aggravating the injury.
Beckham missed the end of the Grapefruit League schedule when he tweaked his groin in the fourth-last game of spring training, but was still in the Opening Day starting lineup. He is also dealing with a sore Achilles tendon, but the major concern is with Beckham’s groin.
The series of injuries has affected some of the team’s most durable players. Before being injured, Schoop had missed just two games since the beginning of the 2016 season. Beckham played in his first 47 games after being acquired by the Orioles on July 31 before missing seven of the last 10 games of the season with a hamstring injury.
The injuries also expose the team’s lack on infield depth. After realizing Beckham was a DL possibility, the team scoured for external infield help. Engelb Vielma is the only healthy infielder on the 40-man roster not currently on the big league roster, and he could join the team Tuesday to fill an infield bench spot if Beckham is placed on the DL.
Danny Valencia will likely continue to man third base in the absence of Schoop and Beckham, with Luis Sardiñas or possibly Vielma starting at second base until Peterson arrives Wednesday.