After his five-year stint with the Toronto Blue Jays came to an end following the 2008 campaign, the switch-hitting catcher out of St. Francis High began his second stint with the Baltimore Orioles, the team that drafted him in 1989. By early August, Zaun was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays and in the thick of the playoff race.
As the Orioles’ every day catcher, Zaun struggled at the plate over the first two-plus months of the season, batting just .200 with one home run and five RBIs. Once top prospect Matt Weiters was promoted from triple-A, Zaun lost the starter’s job, but had better numbers in limited duty, raising his average to .248 with three more homers and eight more RBIs by Aug. 2.
Five days later, Zaun was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The defending American League-champion Rays were in third place in the American League East at the time, but still in the hunt for a playoff berth.
“Surprised, I was surprised,” Zaun told the News-Press of taking on an immediate workload behind the plate for Tampa, splitting time with Dioner Navarro. “I had really no idea what kind of role I was gonna play here.
“It’s a nice opportunity to come here and contribute to a team that’s still in the hunt.”
Zaun finished the season strong, batting .287 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 34 games for Tampa Bay and .260 average with eight home runs overall and had some memorable games in Tampa, including a pinch-hit grand slam to beat his old team, Toronto, 5-2, on Aug. 16 and a three-for-four day with two doubles to help beat the Boston Red Sox, 8-5, on Sept. 2. The Rays finished 84-78 for third place.