BALTIMORE – For at least the near future, Steve Clevenger is the Orioles No. 1 catcher. Clevenger will start his fourth straight game with Matt Wieters now on the disabled list.
“It’s a big hit to the team. Matty’s a big part of this team. He’s probably the captain of the team,” Clevenger said. “It’s a shame, but I’ve got to do my job and step in and try to fill that hole as best as possible.”
Clevenger has never played more than 69 games in a major league season. That was in 2012 with the Chicago Cubs.
“I don’t know if it will be hard. The mental part of it, I haven’t experienced,” Clevenger said. “I really don’t know what to expect. Right now, my body feels great.”
Manager Buck Showalter has a long checklist for Clevenger.
“He’s got to be able to have some retention skills, be able to retain information, from day-to-day, from series-to-series, be somebody you can trust defensively,” Showalter said. “Call a game, gaining the confidence of the pitching staff; what he does offensively is a plus, if it happens.”
Showalter says the Orioles are second in baseball in the amount of time between pitches, and that’s because pitchers have confidence in Wieters.
Clevenger has quickly impressed the manager.
“There were some unknowns,” Showalter said. “In spring training, we were very happy that we thought he could be that guy. He was really engaged in catching.”
For the first time in the majors, Clevenger will get an extended look.
“What’s it going to be like to catch, five six days in a row?”
Clevenger has thrown out just two of the 13 runners who have tried to steal against him.
“He’s got plenty of arm strength to throw people out. Arm strength is not an issue,” Showalter said.
Showalter says sometimes the pitchers haven’t been quick enough to the plate.
“He’ll throw out the people he’s supposed to throw out,” Showalter said.
Clevenger said that Wieters is helpful during games.
“He still comes to the field early, and we talk about different hitters,” Clevenger said. “He’s a big part of this team, even while he’s hurt. He’s got some knowledge to give, and I’m going to take it.”