Catcher Steve Clevenger was told to come off the field for Triple-A Iowa last night, because it looked like he was about to be traded.
He didn’t find out where he was going until this afternoon – roughly five minutes before news broke that Clevenger, a 2004 Mount St. Joseph’s graduate, and right-hander Scott Feldman had been dealt to Clevenger’s hometown Orioles for pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop and two international signing slots.
Clevenger grew up in the Pigtown neighborhood of the city – before he moved to Linthicum when he was 11 or so – and went to Orioles games all the time.
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“It’s like a dream come true, growing up less than five minutes from the stadium and watching Cal [Ripken Jr.] and Brady [Anderson] and Eddie [Murray] and all those guys,” Clevenger, 27, said. “It’s just a great feeling to get to go home and play. Not many people get to play in their home city.”
Clevenger has been sent to Triple-A Norfolk, but he likely would be the first call-up if something were to happen to Matt Wieters or Taylor Teagarden.
An infielder by trade – he played outfield and shortstop at Mount St. Joe – Clevenger made the transition to catching after the Cubs drafted him in the seventh round in 2006 out of Chipola Junior College, where Orioles manager Buck Showalter once played.
“They pulled me aside and asked what I thought about catching and said it would be my quickest path to the big leagues,” the left-handed hitting Clevenger said. “I said, ‘I’m all in.’ And I have been all in and I’ve worked hard to get to where I am now.”
That was Clevenger’s reputation when he played for Youse’s Orioles’ amateur powerhouse club – with teammates such as Steve Johnson and the late Nick Adenhart – even volunteering to catch in doubleheaders.
“Steve was always about the team. He was a middle of the lineup hitter with real good strike zone awareness and real good pitch recognition,” said Orioles scout Dean Albany, who managed Clevenger with Youse’s Orioles. “And he played the game real hard.”
Clevenger said he continues to play hard – and that fans will see that when he gets to Baltimore. He’s been sidelined for much of the season with an oblique strain, but he’s fully healthy now.
And he’s excited for a chance to play for the Orioles after cheering for favorites like Ripken and Joe Orsulak years ago. He said his phone began blowing up with messages from his Baltimore friends as soon as it was announced that the Orioles had traded for him.
“This is just a very good time for me and my family,” Clevenger said. “It’s something special, it’s a winning team, and hopefully I can help bring a championship to Baltimore.”