Clevenger ready to compete for backup job

Now that Scott Feldman has signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Astros, catcher Steve Clevenger is all that remains for the Orioles from their July 2 trade with the Cubs.

Pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop will report to spring training with the Cubs. Clevenger will be competing for the backup job in Baltimore.

Clevenger, 27, was more than just a throw-in, but the Orioles had targeted Feldman as the veteran innings-eating starter who would allow them to make a more spirited run at the playoffs.

Welcome to life on the other side.

The plan looks a whole lot better if it works, but that's the gamble that contenders must be willing to take at the non-waiver deadline. Standing pat wasn't an option for the Orioles.

Clevenger, the pride of Pigtown, has been working out at Camden Yards. "Just trying to get myself in some kind of baseball shape," he said earlier this month.

This is a fresh start of sorts for Clevenger, who went 4-for-15 with a double in four games with the Orioles.

"Definitely," he said, "but at the same time, you've got to go into spring training and take it like any other year. You're going in and competing for a job. You leave everything in spring training, and hopefully, you make a spot on the roster."

Clevenger, who got married last month, must be viewed as the favorite to back up Matt Wieters. Unless the Orioles bring in another catcher, his primary competition will come from Johnny Monell, acquired from the Giants on Nov. 30 for cash considerations.

The Orioles don't have a history of getting much production from the guys behind Wieters. Taylor Teagarden was 10-for-60 this season. Chris Snyder was 2-for-20.

Teagarden remains on the free agent market. Snyder signed a minor league deal with the Nationals.

"I go into spring training and don't look to be any kind of favorite or anything like that," Clevenger said. "I just try to be myself and do what I can do and show those guys what I bring to the table. I try not to worry about or dwell on whether I'm going to make the roster or not. I'll leave that up to Buck (Showalter) and Dan (Duquette) to make the decisions. I'm just going in there focused on doing what I have to do to show those guys what I bring to the table."

At least Clevenger has a short drive to Camden Yards for his offseason workouts.

"Being home and having access to the stadium, it's very good," he said. "Playing in Chicago, we were a 14-hour drive away. We never went to the city to lift in the stadium or anything like that. It's a good way to keep a relationship with Joe Hogerty and Ryan (Crotin) and build that relationship going into spring training."

Clevenger may attend the mini-camp next month in Sarasota, and he expects to be an early arrival to spring training. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report Feb. 13, but Clevenger won't wait that long.

"I'm going to go down probably the end of January and try to get out on the field a couple weeks before spring actually starts," he said.

Now for the really important stuff. Last night's dinner menu included beef tenderloin, twice-baked potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, rolls and salad with my mother's homemade blue cheese dressing.

blog comments powered by Disqus