Pat Gonzalez has not had an at-bat for Class AA Bowie this season, and through 133 games, heading into last night's game with New Britain, had just one put-out as an infielder.

But on a day-to-day basis, Gonzalez has been invaluable to the Baysox, especially to the pitching staff.

Gonzalez, 24, is in his third season with the Orioles' organization. After playing with the short-season Aberdeen Ironbirds in 2002 and less-advanced Class A Delmarva last season, Gonzalez finished spring training this year without an assignment. The Orioles, however, did not want to let Gonzalez get away.

"They said they liked the way I went about my business and the way I played, and that they just didn't have a spot for me," Gonzalez said.

As a solution, the Orioles offered Gonzalez a position as Bowie's bullpen catcher. Though he had never been a catcher, Gonzalez, a utility infielder, accepted.

"It's fun," Gonzalez said. "The team's great, the environment's nice. You see a lot of different places."

Gonzalez works out, takes batting practice and throws with his teammates to stay prepared for next year and for the chance that the Baysox may need him for emergency duty -- as they did July 11 against Binghamton, when he played second base and made his put-out.

During games, Gonzalez catches when Bowie's relievers warm up. Catching Class AA pitchers took some getting used to -- he said he almost broke his thumb "six or seven times" at the beginning of the season and had difficulty with the submarine delivery of reliever Andy Mitchell -- but Gonzalez quickly adjusted.

"He's a good guy and a good catcher," said Bowie pitching coach Larry McCall. "Gonzo played infield for me last year in Delmarva and did a good job, and he's been an outstanding bullpen catcher here."

Note: Walter Young broke the Bowie single-season home run record Saturday. It was Young's 32nd of the season, breaking Calvin Pickering's 1998 record.