Fox: my role is unclear
Jake Fox had a long talk with manager Buck Showalter during this weekend’s series in Oakland, a conversation he hoped would bring more clarity as to where he fits on the Orioles 25-man roster, if at all.
“I think my role is still very unclear,” Fox said, when asked what prompted him to seek out Showalter, who he praised as a straight-shooter. “They are not seeing me perform the way they want me to and I think that has kept him from putting me in the lineup more. Obviously with the number of at-bats I’ve had it is going to take me a few games to get back in a rhythm. We had this conversation, and [I said] I feel like I’m still the same guy I was this spring. Nothing has changed. I’m still putting the ball in play, my timing isn’t quite there, my pitch recognition isn’t quite there.”
[Showalter] did tell me that once [Craig] Tatum got called up it was going to free up some opportunities for me. And from my perspective I’m still staying patient, waiting for those opportunities. He’s putting the best team out there that he thinks can win ball games.
And he feels that I’m not that guy that’s going to win games. So, obviously I got to show him that I can improve that I can make adjustments and I can help them win.”
Fox made the team out of Spring Training as a backup catcher, but the addition of Tatum last week has him in more of a bench role. He enters Tuesday hitting .188 in 19 games, including 12 starts and has struggled offensively and to get consistent playing time because of those struggles.
Even with first baseman Derrek Lee on the disabled list, the Orioles have used several different combination, including Luke Scott and Mark Reynolds. Fox started at first base on Thursday and Friday and went 1-for-5 with a walk, a strikeout and two double play balls.
“Obviously [the talk with Showalter] wasn’t what I wanted to hear, because it’s no secret that I haven’t gotten the innings I wanted to, I haven’t gotten the at-bats I’ve wanted to get,” Fox said. “But I knew going into the season I wasn’t going to be an everyday player. We had too many other guys who have earned the right to be everyday players.
But when you have some injuries, you hope you will be in there more and get a chance. But obviously [Showalter] went in a different direction and he’s trying to piece together a team to win until those guys get back.”
With Lee’s activation coming as early as the end of the week, Fox knows he could be the odd man out on the Orioles roster. He is out of options, meaning the organization could try to work out a trade with another club before potentially losing him on waivers. That’s how the Orioles acquired Fox from Oakland last season. It’s a situation Fox is aware of, but not one he’s focusing on, as he prefers to use his energy trying to get back on track at the plate.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of moves made,” said Fox, who is with his third organization. “When Tatum came up I was like, ‘Ok, they got a backup catcher now what are they going to do with me?’ So, those questions always go through your mind.
But if you get wrapped up in that it prevents you from going out and doing your job. And it’s no secret, I’ve talked to Buck about it, someday I’d like to be an everyday player, I feel like I could be an everyday player, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten that opportunity yet.
Obviously when D. Lee comes back there is going to be some kind of move made, if it’s me it’s me. If it’s not, than I’m going to do what I’ve been doing. Keep working hard and trying to improve at the job they’ve given me.”
Fox has long attested that he would like to be an every day player and said prior to Monday’s game that he still thinks he can be.
“I feel like I’m average defensively at five positions and have never gotten the chance to just play one position and be really great at it,” Fox said. “I can make the routine plays, and once in a while even a great play, but I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to just stay in one spot [defensively] and really get better there.”