OAKLAND, Calif. -- Orioles reserve catcher Taylor Teagarden is out likely three to four weeks after taking a foul ball to the tip of his left thumb in the sixth inning of the Orioles’ 7-3 win over the Oakland A’s on Saturday.
Teagarden said when he took off his mitt, the thumb was bent backward and was “kind of scary looking,” and he immediately assumed it was broken. Instead, X-rays confirmed it was only a dislocation, but it will still require a 15-day disabled-list stint that could last a month.
“I thought it’s a break and it’s a really bad one. But [doctors] said it was a dislocation and that was better news,” Teagarden said. “And they put it back in place and now it’s a matter of icing it and getting it to calm down.”
Teagarden is hitless in 13 at-bats this season, but he is known for his defensive abilities and work with pitchers. He said he was setting up to catch Chris Tillman’s fastball in the webbing of his glove when Josh Donaldson’s swing deflected the ball.
“It hits me squarely in the tip of the thumb. And 92-mph is gonna win the battle against a small joint like that,” Teagarden said. “I knew right away, visually it was very obvious.”
He quickly jumped to his feet, walked toward the dugout and began shedding his equipment.
“He is tough guy, when you see him walk off the field like that,” manager Buck Showalter said, “we are just fortunate it is not broken.”
Matt Wieters, who was the day’s designated hitter, came into the game behind the plate, and the Orioles lost their designated hitter.
Teagarden, who has dealt with injuries throughout his career including a chronic back issue that cost him last year’s first half, said he has broken his right thumb before, but never his glove thumb.
“It definitely is a freaky kind of injury. It’s one of those things you just don’t think would happen to you until it does,” Teagarden said. “For something like a dislocation it has to be crazy odds for it to hit a certain spot and for it to pop out. It’s frustrating but hopefully it doesn’t last too long and I can get back there and back with the team.”
The Orioles have one other catcher on their 40-man roster besides Teagarden and All-Star Matt Wieters: Luis Exposito, who hit just .218 in 16 games with Triple-A Norfolk this year and struggled defensively this spring.
Chris Robinson is the backup at Norfolk and Luis Martinez, Brian Ward and Caleb Joseph are at Double-A Bowie. Catching depth has been something the Orioles were looking to improve this spring, but he didn’t do it.
“We have a lot of options, [Exposito] is one of them,” Showalter said. “We have three or four. We’ll see. … I know what I think, and we’ll see what everybody else thinks. Usually, [the minor league decision-makers] have as good if not a better idea.”