Caleb Joseph on Matt Wieters taking qualifying offer

As soon as word leaked that catcher Matt Wieters accepted the Orioles’ qualifying offer, fans wondered how it impacted Caleb Joseph and how he would react to it.

Bitter? Concerned about his status on the roster? Worried about losing at-bats?

Try none of the above.

joseph-looking-over-in-gear-white-sidebar.jpgThe same guy who appeared in 100 games this year and caught in 94 was thrilled to find out that Wieters would return in 2016.

“I’ve been in touch with Matt here and there,” Joseph said. “I didn’t want to infringe on his offseason personal business, but I consider ourselves pretty close friends. We’ve developed a pretty strong relationship outside of work and our sons hopefully are going to be friends one day, and our wives are definitely really good friends.

“I talked to Matt a few days ago and he kind of updated me on the situation. I told him, ‘Buddy, if you accept it, I promise you I’ll be the most excited person in that clubhouse.’ There’s no doubt about it. Matt makes the Baltimore Orioles better and he makes me better and I’m excited to be his teammate again.”

It didn’t seem likely as free agency approached and speculation mounted that Wieters would sign with the Braves. He was a fan of the team growing up, he attended Georgia Tech, he built a home in Atlanta. All signs pointed to Georgia.

“I was upset that last day of the season when we were saying goodbye in the parking lot,” Joseph said. “I was upset. Matt’s been a guy I can lean on for a lot of things both inside and out of baseball. I’m excited. I really am. I’m excited to hopefully get to work again with him next year and see what we can do with this team.”

Joseph batted .234/.299/.394 with 16 doubles, 11 home runs and 49 RBIs in 355 plate appearances in 2015 - his first full season in the majors after finally making it the previous summer at 28. He committed three errors for a .996 fielding percentage and threw out 18 of 55 runners (33 percent) attempting to steal. The staff posted a 3.65 ERA with him behind the plate.

With Wieters expected to handle a heavier workload next season after undergoing ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow on June 2014, Joseph figures to slot into a more clearly defined backup role. The arrangement is fine with him.

“You never know what could happen,” Joseph said. “It’s sort of a double-edged sword. It’s intriguing, but at the same time it’s kind of nerve-wracking. But there’s more to this life than catching 120 games and making a lot of money. What we’re able to get from Matt’s family, a relationship and accountability and stability from them, just for me and my wife, it’s worth every game that we don’t catch and it’s worth every penny that we don’t make. I can’t stress that enough. The relationship that we have is so much more important than who’s catching more games and who’s catching two in a row.

“I said this back when I got drafted, I’d love to be Matt Wieters’ backup for the next 10 years and that was back in 2008. I’m excited about the opportunity to be able to work with Matt again. Just what he brings every day is something I want to emulate. Whether it’s 20 games, 50 games, 100 games, as long as the team is winning, I couldn’t care less.”

The Orioles are open to carrying three catchers next season, including Baltimore native Steve Clevenger, who is out of options and can play other positions.

“As we know, it all depends on what happens and what doesn’t happen and all that stuff. Thankfully, I’m not in charge of that,” Joseph said.

“It’s a cliché, but what I get to do is I get to go out, prepare myself the next few months and then show up at spring training and do my best and see what happens. Whatever makes the team get back to the playoffs, I think everybody will be in agreement, so what I can control is getting down there and playing the best I can and hopefully there’s room for all three of us and we’ll go where it takes us.”

Note: If a major league team plays in Cuba next spring, it won’t be the Orioles. The Rays were chosen yesterday in a surprise blind draw.

The Orioles want to return to Cuba, where they played in 1999 under former manager Ray Miller.

Shameless plug alert: I’m back on “Wall to Wall Baseball” today from noon-2 p.m. on MASN.

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