Showalter gets defensive

BOSTON - Steve Clevenger will start behind the plate Monday morning in the series finale against the Red Sox.

Matt Wieters is catching this afternoon following a night game.

“We talked about it before,” said manager Buck Showalter. “We came in with the off-day and it was cool, not very taxing last night. We talked to Matt before this whole thing started and he thought he’d catch the three after the off-day.”

If the Orioles commit an error today, Showalter is bound to glance up at the press box because I asked him about the team’s defense this morning. He’ll accuse me of jinxing it.

We all know that there’s no such thing as a jinx, but still...

“Where are you sitting today, so I can look up there?” Showalter asked after knocking on his wooden desk.

The Orioles have totaled only three errors in 15 games despite third baseman Manny Machado being on the disabled list and shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder David Lough missing significant time.

“I’ll tell you one of the big plays last night that we didn’t talk about after the game was Lough throwing the guy out at second base,” Showalter said. “It’s something Boston takes great pride in. Everybody does. Our organization, guys talk about it constantly. We had a choice between what pictures to put up down in minor league camp and we put up our Gold Glove winners. It’s a message that you want everybody to get.

“I’ve said many times - I tell Jonathan (Schoop), I tell all young players - one reason we brought Manny up was we thought he could defend until he figured out a way to contribute offensively. It’s a way to stay in the lineup. It’s a way to keep from bogging down the DH spot with one person and keep the versatility of the club. We’ve been fortunate to have people who have embraced it. And it wasn’t like they all of a sudden became good defenders. They came that way. And when they come through our system, we should be able to assume that.”

The Orioles lead the majors with seven outfield assists.

“That’s good and bad,” Showalter said. “That means balls are getting to the outfielders. But it’s a momentum changer. They work at it.

“You’ve seen BP every day. When’s the last time you saw a player miss a game in the big leagues because of a sore arm, a position player? That used to happen a lot. I think a lot of that came from taking infield. You get loose for BP and then you get loose again for infield and then you get loose again for the game. That’s three ups, just like a pitcher. Everybody says, ‘Geez, they don’t take infield.’ Well, what was the purpose of that? J.J. Hardy makes 30 throws during BP. Why should he have to do it again an hour later?

“(Wayne) Kirby has the outfielders throw to the bases every day, throw to a target. A lot of guys don’t do that. That’s why you see guys’ arm strength decrease as their careers go on, because they don’t maintain it by throwing. It’s just become part of the ritual. And the good news is the team and players are getting a return for it.”

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