SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t ready to declare a winner in the battle for the backup catching job. He did, however, point out the obvious.
“Stevie’s presented himself well,” Showalter said. “We’ll see what happens between now and the end of spring, what other options present themselves. Caleb (Joseph) has had a good spring, but I’d categorize Steve as the leader in the clubhouse.
“A lot of things present themselves the last 10 days, so we’ll see where it takes us. Stevie’s done a nice job down here. So has John. I thought he really came on as a catcher the last seven or eight days, so hopefully he can carry that over down there. He’s got a chance to hit. I thought his catching skills have really improved since he got here.”
Clevenger is 12-for-23 with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs in nine games. Monell is 5-for-18 with a home run and six RBIs in 11 games.
Defense matters more than offense in that spot.
“We’re always looking, but we like the option that Steve gives us,” Showalter said. “He’s done a nice job behind the plate defensively, and more importantly, he’s engaged in that aspect of it. There’s a lot more to it. We like what his bat brings, also, as with John.
“We like our options there, especially with the way that Caleb has come along. But if something presents itself between now and the end of (camp), we’d certainly look at it.”
Joseph will be here until the end of camp.
The Orioles also optioned Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon to Norfolk and reassigned outfielder Xavier Paul to minor league camp. They now have 43 players at major league spring training, including eight non-roster invitees.
Yoon will be stretched out as a starter at Norfolk. He worked two innings today, allowing a home run and retiring six of seven batters.
“He’s not going to start (the season) with us, but we think he’s got a chance to be with us at some point,” Showalter said. “He needs to go down there and pitch innings, and they’re starting to go away. He needs some time down there against competition.”
Showalter said Yoon will be extended “so that we can have him as an option either way.”
Yoon gave up a wind-blown home run to Jayson Nix.
“He showed you the repertoire a little more today,” Showalter said. “He’s got a good delivery and he’s going to be a strike-/thrower. He showed all three today. That’s intriguing.”
Wei-Yin Chen allowed six runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
“A lot of borderline pitches at the bottom of the zone,” Showalter said. “I like where they were calling his misses to be. He had good stuff. He felt good. If he could have gotten through that fourth, he would have gone out there for at least one hitter.”
Evan Meek had another 1-2-3 inning in the ninth. He’s allowed one baserunner in six innings, on a hit batter.
Meek has been impressive “since Day One,” Showalter said.
“Same thing John Russell saw back when he was an All-Star in the National League and pitched for John, the same type of things he showed us working out when we signed him before he came down here and went through the different camps trying out. He’s intriguing.
“He has two or three people who have been in the fire with him that know what it looks like where it was and how close that is right now.”