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Caleb Joseph catches during drills at the Orioles' spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla.
Caleb Joseph catches during drills at the Orioles' spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla. (Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press)

As soon as Caleb Joseph walked into the Orioles clubhouse Monday morning, teammates converged on the catcher with congratulatory hugs, high fives and fist-bumps.

A hospital band still on his wrist, Joseph returned to the team for the first time since the birth of his first son, a boy named Walker Everett. Joseph's wife, Brooke, delivered the baby on Saturday evening in Sarasota.

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After a short stop by his locker, Joseph immediately went to check the lineup card for Monday's Grapefruit League home game against the Philadelphia Phillies. He is listed as a reserve.

Joseph said he was ready to get back to work and earn a roster spot after missing two days of camp.

"Baby's got to eat," Joseph said. "That's just another reason to try to work really hard, because now you really get a sense of providing, I guess. Wow, this is my responsibility. And being able to experience what a year in the major leagues looks like, it would be nice to spoil him rotten with a couple extra toys, so we'll see."

Joseph, who joined the big league club last May after playing parts of seven seasons in the minors -- including four years log-jammed at Double-A Bowie -- can now provide for his family after receiving a prorated salary of last year's $500,000 major league minimum. He just bought his first house in the offseason and now has hit first child.

"I tell you what, we're making up for lost years in Double-A, that's for sure," he said. "It's pretty hard to put into words, what a year in the big leagues will do for you, your family, you hope your future. More importantly, just being able to experience this kind of life things without having to worry about how you're going to put food on the table necessarily. It's been a blessing and a real exciting year."

Since the baby's due date passed March 1, the Orioles scheduled for Joseph to not make any road trips in case he needed to be with his wife. Joseph said the couple went in for a routine appointment Friday and learned the baby was coming in 24 hours.

"That was kind of the most hectic part was, of course, we're not anticipating it, we're going to have it," Joseph said. "It was hectic just, you never know. God's got a plan. Sometimes we think we do. In the end, it was hectic just thinking, 'This could be 10 days early, 10 days late,' you never know.

"Things like that happen a lot in life, but it was a great experience, so proud of my wife, she did an amazing job. ... She did it 'The Oriole Way.' She grinded it out for a long time. I was like, he's in good shape."

Joseph joked that he didn't know whether he'd give his son catcher's gear or hockey pads, as Joseph is a big fan of his hometown Nashville Predators.

"He's decked out in full Orioles gear, that's for sure," Joseph said. "He's got black and orange all over him. The shin guards, we're waiting to see if we're going to get him shin guards or hockey shin pads. We're not sure yet. We'll see."

Below is the Orioles' starting lineup for Monday's 1:05 p.m. game against the Phillies, as well as the available reserve players. Right-hander Chris Tillman will make his spring debut and will likely be followed by left-hander Brian Matusz. Chris Davis will start in right field for the first time this spring.

Orioles starting lineup

Alejandro De Aza LF
Steve Pearce 1B
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters DH
J.J. Hardy SS
Manny Machado 3B
Steve Clevenger C
Everth Cabrera 2B
Chris Tillman RHP

Available bench players

Ryan Flaherty IF
David Lough CF
Chris Parmelee 1B/OF
Travis Snider OF
Henry Urrutia OF
Rey Navarro IF
Jimmy Paredes IF
Michael Almanzar 3B
Dariel Alvarez OF
J.P. Arencibia C
Jayson Nix IF
Ryan Lavarnway C
Delmon Young OF
Jonathan Schoop IF
Matt Tuiasosopo OF
Christian Walker 1B
Brian Ward C
Caleb Joseph C

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Available pitchers

Zach Britton LHP
Brian Matusz LHP
Darren O'Day RHP
Steve Johnson RHP
Tyler Wilson RHP


eencina@baltsun.com

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