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Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph excited about likely Opening Day assignment

Baltimore Orioles batter Caleb Joseph during Grapefruit League action at Ed Smith Stadium. Joseph is the likely Opening Day starter at catcher for the Orioles.
Baltimore Orioles batter Caleb Joseph during Grapefruit League action at Ed Smith Stadium. Joseph is the likely Opening Day starter at catcher for the Orioles. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

SARASOTA, Fla. – Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph has never been on a major league Opening Day roster in his seven previous pro seasons.

This year, after all that time riding minor league buses, Joseph is not only a roster lock to begin the season, but he is expected to be the Opening Day starter behind the plate for the Orioles. It's a scenario created because All-Star catcher Matt Wieters is still recovering from elbow surgery.

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Joseph, who made his big league debut last year shortly before his 28th birthday, is excited to get the assignment — but also understands the reasoning behind it.

"We all know that with Matt starting Opening Day, with Matt playing Opening Day, we probably have our best chance," Joseph said. "He is such a great player and so we are excited for him to come back and we hope he comes back as soon as possible because this team needs him."

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Wieters may not return until late April or early May. Until then, Joseph will hold down the starting spot; while several candidates are fighting to be Joseph's backup. Ryan Lavarnway is considered the favorite.

"Things happen in this game that nobody really expects and just like we've had to do in years' past the next guy has got to step up," Joseph said. "Hopefully, we get Matt back really soon but, as long as he is out, I'm going to try and step up and do my best and try to continue what I did last year."

Joseph batted .207 with nine homers in 82 games in 2014, including 77 starts at catcher. He's had a pretty good spring, which included the birth of his first child, Walker.

Joseph is batting .333 (7 for 21), with three doubles and five RBIs in Grapefruit League games, further helping him earn the Opening Day assignment. There is one negative, though, about being behind the plate for the home opener at Camden Yards. Joseph won't get a chance to run down the orange carpet during introductions because he'll be warming up the starting pitcher.

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"Hopefully, it's pretty fun to be a part of even if you're in the bullpen squatting down, getting all hot and sweaty while everybody's enjoying a nice carpet run," he joked.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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