Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
SportsOrioles

Steve Clevenger says he's 'going to do my best' to fill in for Matt Wieters

BaseballMajor League BaseballSteve ClevengerBaltimore OriolesMatt WietersDetroit TigersKevin Gausman

Steve Clevenger said he's viewing the next few weeks simply: No pressure, no fanfare.

Yes, the Mount St. Joseph graduate and former Pigtown resident is now the starting catcher for his hometown Orioles and has been called on to replace the injured Matt Wieters, one of the best at the position.

But Clevenger won't get caught up in that thinking.

"Matty is still the starter in my eyes," Clevenger said. "Matty is Matty for a reason. A two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. He brings a lot to this team, and it's a big hit losing him the way we've lost him. But I'm going to do my best to fill in."

Wieters was hitting .308 with five homers, but Clevenger has held his own offensively so far this season. He was 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI in the Orioles' 4-1 loss Monday, raising his batting average to .304 this season.

The question on Clevenger is whether the converted infielder can be a capable defensive catcher.

"Everybody has always put this on me, this label, that I'm not a very good defensive catcher. To me, I don't see it that way," Clevenger said. "I see myself as an average to above-average catcher in the big leagues. It's hard to kick that label when someone gives that to you."

Clevenger, 28, has had problems keeping runners from stealing. He has thrown out just 10 of 70 in his career (14 percent) and just three of 15 this season after Monday's game.

Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler stole second base against him in the fourth inning Monday, but Clevenger threw him out trying to steal in the sixth.

But Orioles manager Buck Showalter believes that's not completely on Clevenger. Showalter said Clevenger has had some trouble on the transfer from glove to hand, but he has also been the victim of pitchers occasionally not holding the runners adequately.

"He's got plenty of arm strength to throw people out. Arm strength's not an issue," Showalter said. "In a couple cases, we didn't do a very good job of giving him a chance. He'll throw out the people he's supposed to throw out."

Overall, Showalter said Clevenger's biggest challenge in the next few weeks will be remembering all the information a catcher needs to succeed at this level.

"He's got to have some retention skills, being able to retain information from day to day, from series to series. Be somebody you can trust defensively," Showalter said. "Just call the game, gaining the confidence of the pitching staff. What he does offensively is a plus if it happens."

Duquette says he's happy with catchers

Despite reports that he is scouring the market for options at catcher, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said he believes the club will be fine with Clevenger and rookie Caleb Joseph while Wieters is on the disabled list with a right elbow strain.

"I think our internal options are good. If Matt can come back [soon], that would be good," Duquette said. "Caleb is enthusiastic and wants to prove himself in the big leagues, and Steve Clevenger is on his way to doing that."

Duquette wouldn't say specifically if he is discussing any trades or looking at the waiver wire for a catcher, but he said he believes Clevenger's and Joseph's familiarity with the club's current pitching staff gives them the edge over outside options.

"They were both with us in spring training, so they know the staff, which is important during the season," Duquette said.

Guilmet 'really excited' to join club

Even though Preston Guilmet has been primarily a one-inning pitcher at Triple-A Norfolk this season, Showalter said he believes the right-hander can serve as a long reliever. Three of Guilmet's 13 outings this season have been two innings.

Guilmet threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings Monday.

"Length in the American League is two innings," Showalter said. "He's capable of that. He's rested and pitching well."

The Orioles recalled Guilmet on Monday to take the place of left-hander T.J. McFarland, who was sent to the minors after pitching three innings Sunday against the Houston Astros.

"I'm excited, really, really excited to be with the club and have the opportunity," said Guilmet, whom the Orioles acquired from the Cleveland Indians for minor leaguer Torsten Boss in April.

Guilmet was 2-1 with a 5.65 ERA and four saves working primarily as Norfolk's closer. In six minor league seasons, he is 20-15 with a 2.71 ERA and 94 saves. Last year with the Cleveland Indians' Triple-A team in Columbus, he was 5-4 with a 1.68 ERA and 20 saves.

Showalter talks pitching options

Showalter said there were several other options to fill the roster spot.

Right-hander Josh Stinson is pitching well, and while Showalter said it wasn't an issue that Stinson isn't on the 40-man roster, he can't be optioned again without going through waivers.

Right-hander Steve Johnson was another possibility, but Showalter said he didn't want to bring him up with three days rest after he threw 89 pitches in his second outing off the disabled list.

Showalter also said right-hander Kevin Gausman, who had been dealing with chest tightness which was diagnosed as pneumonia, is becoming an option to help the big league team. He came off Norfolk's DL and pitched Saturday.

"He's put up with some pretty serious stuff," Showalter said about Gausman. "He felt good the day after pitching Saturday. Now that he's back healthy again, yeah, we look at all of our pitchers down there as options."

Around the horn

McFarland, who was needed as a reliever for the Orioles, will resume starting at Norfolk, Showalter said. … Orioles pitchers took batting practice for the first time Monday in preparation for games in interleague parks later this month. … The Orioles list Wednesday's and Thursday's starters as TBA. … Tuesday's scheduled starter, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, is 1-2 with a 6.92 ERA in 16 career starts against the Tigers. ... Knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa allowed seven runs — four earned — and eight hits in five innings for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday. … Right-hander Hunter Harvey, who was the Orioles' top draft pick last year, threw seven scoreless innings for Low-A Delmarva on Monday. He allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out 10. He threw 83 pitches, 61 for strikes.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
BaseballMajor League BaseballSteve ClevengerBaltimore OriolesMatt WietersDetroit TigersKevin Gausman
Comments
Loading