While wondering what type of reception Brian Roberts will receive tonight in his return to Camden Yards ...
Back on June 23, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told a small group of reporters that the club wasn’t in the market for a catcher despite Matt Wieters’ season-ending elbow surgery.
It went a little something like this:
“It’s always a challenge to change catchers during the season because the catcher is involved in so many facets of the game,” Duquette said. “Fortunately, we’ve been able to transition from Matt as an everyday catcher to a tandem of Caleb (Joseph) and Nick Hundley during the season and remain competitive, and recently our pitching has come around.
“That’s a very challenging position change to make on the fly and the organization did a good job with the transition with this team. I’ve tried that transition a couple other times and it’s a very difficult transition to make and maintain our winning ballclub. We also have Steve Clevenger, a left-handed hitter, as a complement to the current catchers. And he’s doing a good job with the bat in particular. And we have some young catchers developing down below.
“It’s real difficult to make the transition and our club made a successful transition and maintained a highly competitive team. Everybody deserves credit for that - Buck (Showalter), Dave Wallace, John Russell. Matt helped. Matt assisted with that transition. But it’s a real challenge and we met the challenge so far.”
In other words, there’s no reason to be surprised that the Orioles aren’t showing interest in catcher A.J. Pierzynski, designated for assignment this week by the Red Sox.
Even if they were seeking an upgrade, Pierzynski wouldn’t be an enticing candidate to join the club.
The Orioles seem content with Caleb Joseph, who’s thrown out 15 of 29 runners attempting to steal, according to baseball-reference.com, and Nick Hundley, who’s batting .242 with three doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs in 18 games since being acquired from the Padres on May 24.
They believe Joseph is a better hitter than he’s shown, but they’ll gladly take his defense and game-calling - with the exception of last night’s passed ball.
He’s gotten comfortable with the staff. They’ve gotten comfortable with him.
The Orioles always could move in another direction later in the summer, but they seem content for now with their current arrangement.
Joseph and Hundley, whose father, Tim, is the safeties coach for the UNLV football team, have developed a nice friendship despite competing for starts.
“I love the relationship,” Showalter said. “You watch them between innings, they’re picking each other’s brain, they’re pulling for each other. They’re both good people.
“Nick Hundley, a college football coach’s son. He gets the competition. I think Nick’s excited to be in a competitive situation. He knew that San Diego was in a different stage in what they were trying to do.”
The Orioles had major concerns about their catching depth in the minors, but the situation has improved over the past few years.
“I think our front office and the scouts have done a great job,” Showalter said. “Brian Ward is an option up here. He can catch and throw here right now. (Steve) Clevenger is obviously there. We went from having some real challenges with that to really being four deep. And you know Michael Ohlman is on our roster and making strides at Double-A.
“We’ve got three of the better young catching prospects in all of baseball down at the A levels in (Chance) Sisco, (Alex) Murphy and (Jonah) Heim. We went from a challenge to potentially a real strength in our organization, with Matt being the lead dog.”