Francisco Pena, who had spent the past nine seasons climbing through the minor league ranks, did not figure to see much major league action entering the 2016 season. That was until an injury to the team's backup catcher, Caleb Joseph, opened up a spot on the Orioles' roster. Pena was soon called up to serve as Matt Wieters' backup in Joseph's absence. He saw action in 14 games and certainly did not make the most of his opportunity, posting a .200 average and a grotesque 32.6 percent strikeout rate in his 43 plate appearances. Though it was a small a sample size, his 33 wRC+ was the second worst mark of any of the team's position players. Following the signing of Welington Castillo to take over as the everyday catcher and Wieters' departure in free agency, Joseph should retain the backup duties while Pena lingers at Triple-A as organizational depth. This forecast was further promoted following Pena's designation for assignment in February.
Pena cleared waivers and outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports. He remains within the Baltimore organization after being DFA'd last week to clear room for Gabriel Ynoa. Pena will report to spring training Thursday, but will likely serve as organizational depth behind Welington Castillo and Caleb Joseph as the season begins. The 27-year-old played 54 games with Norfolk last season, batting .246 and contributing 23 RBI.
Pena was designated for assignment by the Orioles on Friday, MASN's Roch Kubatko reports. With the Orioles acquiring Gabriel Ynoa from the Mets on Friday, the organization needed to clear a spot on the 40-man roster and Pena was the casualty. Pena, 27, is a strong defensive catcher but he showed very little as a batter while with the Orioles last season, slashing .200/.238/.275 with 14 strikeouts in 40 at-bats. He could draw interest from another club looking to add organizational depth at catcher, but he's unlikely to see much time at the major league level in 2017.
Pena was recalled by the Orioles on Saturday. With Wieters landing on the paternity list Saturday, the Orioles needed some reinforcements behind the plate and brought Pena back up to the big league club. His stint will likely be short, however, given that Wieters will only be gone for three games at most.
Pena was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday, the Baltimore Sun reports. The 26-year-old made nine starts behind the plate in his month with the big club, going 7-for-32 with one home run, three RBI, two walks and 11 strikeouts. With Caleb Joseph (groin) ready to resume his role as backup to Matt Wieters, Pena will head down and look to build on his unsightly .200/.241/.250 line with Norfolk.
Pena is likely to be optioned Friday when Caleb Joseph is activated from the DL, MASN Sports reports. The Orioles have been more comfortable with Matt Wieters starting consecutive days since Joseph went on the DL and that left Pena without many playing opportunities. He went 7-for-32 with just one extra-base hit, a home run. Pena had no home runs at Triple-A, which is a disappointment after hitting 27 home runs in 2014 and 13 home runs in 2015 at the same level.
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