Catcher Zaun to join Orioles again

BALTIMORE -- Catcher Gregg Zaun reached a preliminary agreement Friday on a one-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles, where he would fill the starting role vacated by the trade of Ramon Hernandez.

Zaun batted. 237 with six homers and 30 RBIs in 86 games with Toronto last season. The 37-year-old was selected by Baltimore in the 17th round of the 1989 amateur draft and made his major league debut with the Orioles in 1995.

The contract is dependent upon Zaun passing a physical, Orioles president Andy MacPhail said Friday.

Baltimore needed a veteran catcher to replace Hernandez, who was traded to the Cincinnati Reds last month for utilityman Ryan Freel and minor leaguer infielders Justin Turner and Brandon Waring.

The Orioles expect Zaun to fill the void at catcher until top prospect Matt Wieters proves he can be consistent at the big league level. Zaun has 14 years of experience to draw upon in working with a young pitching staff and newcomer Koji Uehara of Japan.

Zaun has a .251 batting average in 1,114 games with Baltimore, Florida, Texas, Kansas City, Houston, Colorado and Toronto. He played in two games with Florida in the 1997 World Series.