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Orioles catcher Chance Sisco making most of consistent starts, has best defensive day of career

When the Orioles began a stretch of five straight games against right-handed pitching Thursday in Detroit, manager Buck Showalter said it could be an opportunity to give the left-handed-hitting Chance Sisco a solid run in the lineup and give the slumping Caleb Joseph a break.

Showalter cautioned, however, that you need to know what the goal is in doing so. If Sisco continues on his current trajectory, the end game of this early-season platoon might become clear quickly.

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Sisco, on an otherwise fallow day for the Orioles offense, had a hit and a walk in three trips to the plate, but more importantly threw out all three attempted base stealers Cleveland sent on him — Michael Brantley in the sixth inning, Francisco Lindor in the seventh and Rajai Davis in the ninth.

"That was fun to watch," Showalter said. "He's come a long way. I know he should take a lot of pride in it."

Said Sisco: "It's still super early. I'm just trying to keep building momentum on the last few games that I've caught, and yeah, just try to build momentum. It's kind of a feeling thing. There's a lot of mechanics that do go into it, but once you do start feeling comfortable with those mechanics, it's a confidence boost."

Sisco has now caught seven of 11 attempted base stealers overall, including six of his past seven, and the overall package is one that's warranting more of a run of playing time than anticipated. No Orioles catcher has thrown out three batters in a game since Matt Wieters on Aug. 25, 2012 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Davis was also one of the runners caught that day.

Sisco said his step forward this year has been in his footwork.

"I'm just trying to get it out as quick as I can, get the ball on its way," he said. "A lot of credit goes to [bench coach John Russell] and Caleb for helping me out tremendously. … Before, it was a little bit of a struggle for me to repeat what I was doing with my footwork on a daily basis. That was a big struggle, just repeating my footwork."

Said Showalter: "It's a lot like a pitcher mechanically. Some things you have to do, moving your feet and cutting out some steps that a lot of catchers make after they catch the ball. It's basically a cheat move where you try to get your feet and his feet are working a lot better. You can tell he has a lot of confidence throwing right now."

Defense, though, was where the team's third-rated prospect by Baseball America was supposed to be lagging behind. His strength is meant to be at the plate, where he ended Saturday batting .256 with three doubles and a .674 OPS.

But if he ends up taking playing time away from Joseph, who has three hits in 37 at-bats this season, it will be because of what he can do behind the dish. Chris Tillman said he's enjoyed working with him, and Sisco knows there will be an ancillary benefit to the more regular playing time in these three straight starts at the plate.

"There's a little bit of a difference," Sisco said. "Obviously, consistent at-bats. But it's not a reason for success or failure. It's just something where yeah, you get a little more comfortable playing every day, but it's not something behind success or failure."

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