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Peter Schmuck

Backup catcher role shouldn't be an open question

SARASOTA, Fla. — Every team brings a bunch of catchers to spring training to catch the countless bullpen sessions and audition for roles at the upper levels of the organization, and every manager publicly declares that the major league backup job is wide open.

That's the case at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, where the Orioles have brought in former Blue Jays and Rangers catcher J.P. Arencibia, and Buck Showalter is already extolling the defensive virtues of minor league prospect Brian Ward.

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Meanwhile, Caleb Joseph has to be the leader in the clubhouse after combining with Nick Hundley last year to fill in for injured Matt Wieters and proving to be a very capable backup both at and behind the plate.

Showalter acknowledged Joseph's solid performance and said this weekend that it will be taken into consideration when the time comes to choose the major league backup, but would not go so far as to say the job is his to lose.

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Well, it should be. Joseph has been a good soldier through a long minor league career and, when he finally got a chance to contribute at the major league level, made a very important contribution to a team that went deep into the playoffs.

Of course, it's still possible that two of the candidates – and former Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway is also in the mix – make the club out of spring training if Wieters still needs more time to get back from Tommy John elbow surgery.


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