BALTIMORE — After placing Kelly Shoppach on trade waivers last Friday, the Red Sox pulled the trigger on a deal Tuesday that sent the reserve catcher to the New York Mets for a player to be named.
The move paves the way for Ryan Lavarnway to move into the role that had been occupied by Shoppach since the start of the season. Lavarnway became the third catcher on the roster when he was called up from Triple A Pawtucket Aug. 1.
Lavarnway, who was recently named by Baseball America as the International League’s best defensive catcher of 2012, was penciled in as the starting catcher for Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles at Camden Yards.
He batted sixth and reached on a bloop single to right in his first at-bat in the second inning, but finished 1 for 4, including a strikeout with the bases loaded in the seventh.
Asked what the biggest challenge will be for Lavarnway as he assumes a larger role, manager Bobby Valentine replied, “I’m not sure that there’s a biggest challenge for him. I’m not sure it’s more of a challenge for him than last year, that’s for sure.’’
Lavarnway, 25, made his major league debut last season and batted .231, going 9 for 39 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, and 8 RBIs in 17 games.
“He’s a student of the game, he’s prepared mentally, and he’s a physical specimen,’’ Valentine said. “I haven’t seen him play that much, so I’m kind of anxious to see him play more behind the plate, although in spring training I liked what I saw.’’
Shoppach, 32, hit .250 with 5 homers and 17 RBIs in 48 games this season after signing with the Sox as a free agent in December 2011. He started 42 games behind the plate and threw out 10 of 29 base stealers.
Although Lavarnway has struggled at the plate this season — he’s 3 for 24 after being called up — Valentine didn’t seem very concerned.
“I think he’ll be hitting some,’’ Valentine said. “I think we can use his offense at DH, pinch hitting, and he can start as a catcher.’’
Bailey joins team
After he underwent surgery on his right thumb April 4 and started the season on the 60-day disabled list, relief pitcher Andrew Bailey was activated Tuesday. He made his first appearance after missing the first 116 games of the season, coming in to get the last out of the eighth inning while also allowing a walk.
“It’s hard not to think about all the time you missed, because it’s frustrating and you want to be out there all year,’’ Bailey said. “But we’ve got to win ballgames and I’ve got to be ready to go. Unfortunately, it took a little bit more time than expected but I’m back now and I’ve got to go out and do my job.’’
Bailey came on in relief of Mark Melancon and walked DH Chris Davis, but came back to strike out Mark Reynolds, who had homered in his two previous at-bats, on a cutter.
“You never want to come in and walk the first guy you face,’’ Bailey said. “But it was nice to get the punchout, just get that under your belt, the feel of the big league atmosphere. Now it’s time to go, so I’ll come back tomorrow and try to help us win some ballgames.’’
Valencia in lineup
Danny Valencia was penciled in as the starting third baseman, his second start for the Red Sox since being acquired Aug. 5 in a midgame trade with the Twins for minor leaguer Jeremias Pineda.
Valencia made two starts with the PawSox before he was summoned last Saturday after Will Middlebrooks was hit on the right wrist by a pitch and suffered a season-ending fracture.
“It’s been a year of being all over the place, really,’’ said Valencia. “It’s just nice to be back in the big leagues and playing for a team that’s playing for a playoff spot.”
Valencia, who went 1 for 4 with a single Tuesday night, went 3 for 7 in two games with the PawSox.
“My time there was short-lived, but it was a good bunch of guys and it was a good experience there and I’d like to carry over the success here.’’
Jacoby Ellsbury entered the three-game set with a 36-game hitting streak vs. Baltimore, the longest hitting streak by a Red Sox player vs. any team. Ellsbury extended it to 37 with a sharp single to left off Wei-Yin Chen to lead off the game . . . Scott Podsednik entered the game in the ninth as a defensive substitution after Ellsbury experienced some tightness, according to Valentine . . . Clay Buchholz celebrated his 28th birthday Tuesday, one he shares with Orioles Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, who turned 82 . . . A moment of silence was observed before the game in honor of Johnny Pesky, who died Monday at 92. The Red Sox wore black armbands on the right sleeve of their road gray uniforms and will wear a black circular patch with a white No. 6 on the left sleeve of their home jerseys and road blue alternative jerseys.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.