The Braves have signed catcher Ryan Lavarnway to a minor league contract, reports Kevin McAlpin of the Braves Radio Network. He’ll report to Triple-A Gwinnett.
Lavarnway opted for free agency this week after being designated for assignment by the Orioles. The 27-year-old batted just .107 (3-for-28) with Baltimore and made eight starts behind the plate. He owns a .192/.246/.300 batting line over 333 plate appearances in the majors.
Lavarnway spent his first four seasons in the majors with the Red Sox, but he has now switched teams four times since December.
Matt Wieters came down with some tendinitis in his right elbow earlier this week after catching in a game for the first time since Tommy John surgery and now he’s essentially been ruled out for the start of the season.
According to Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com, Orioles manager Buck Showalter conceded today that Wieters is likely to begin the season on the disabled list. He doesn’t want to carry Wieters as a designated hitter if he can’t catch, so they aren’t going to rush his recovery. He’s nine months removed from the surgery right now, so Showalter still thinks he’s “on if not ahead of schedule.” He’ll be eligible to be activated as soon as soon as April 11.
This is a big year for Wieters, who is eligible to become a free agent this winter. Making sure that elbow is right before he returns is the top priority for both him and the Orioles. Caleb Joseph will likely open the season as the starting catcher while Steve Clevenger, J.P. Arencibia, and Ryan Lavarnway are candidates for the backup job.