The catching situation

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles will attempt to win their fifth game in a row today when they play the Cardinals at Ed Smith Stadium.

The Orioles totaled 11 runs during a five-game losing streak. They’ve scored 50 while winning five of their last six. Their only loss in that stretch was 10-9 to the Twins.

It looks like the offense is catching up to the pitching.

Bud Norris makes his fourth start of the spring. He’s surrendered 10 runs and 13 hits over 7 2/3 innings, with five walks and four strikeouts.

Norris will attempt to become the first Orioles starter to record an out in the fifth inning in a Grapefruit League game. Wei-Yin Chen worked five-plus innings Friday against the Red Sox’s Single-A team at Twin Lakes Park. We’re not counting that one, though he got in the necessary work.

Matt Wieters won’t catch, serve as the designated hitter or get the chance to speak with reporters in the morning. The clubhouse is closed again due to a series of meetings, including “Sabermetrics for Dummies.”

Manager Buck Showalter will meet with reporters around 11 a.m. Players will be made available following the game.

caleb-joseph-sidebar.jpgThere isn’t much doubt that Caleb Joseph has moved to the head of the catching pack with Wieters expected to be placed on the disabled list before opening day. He had an RBI double and scored a run yesterday against the Twins.

Joseph is 6-for-18 with two doubles and three RBIs in eight games and still carries a strong and accurate throwing arm, his defensive skills of more importance to manager Buck Showalter. The time off while waiting for the birth of his son didn’t put him behind the other catchers.

It’s too early to predict who will back up Joseph, but the Orioles intend to first look in their own backyard, as they like to say. The in-house candidates will be given strong consideration.

Brian Ward is the best defensively of the group and he’s still in the mix despite being reassigned to minor league camp. I don’t anticipate that he’s going to get the call, but he needs to be included in the discussion. He’s grabbed Showalter’s attention.

I get the sense that Ryan Lavarnway is ahead of J.P. Arencibia. His defense has been good enough so far and he’s 5-for-19 with two doubles in nine games. Arencibia is 2-for-15 with six strikeouts and has been charged with at least three passed balls (in games that I’ve watched.)

Showalter wants to get Arencibia in more games to further evaluate him. The power is intriguing and Arencibia, like Lavarnway, used to be a highly regarded prospect. The Orioles are intrigued or they wouldn’t have signed him to a minor league deal.

Steve Clevenger backed up Joseph yesterday, entering the game in the eighth inning and striking out in his only at-bat. He’s 6-for-25 with two double and five RBIs.

Showalter praised Clevenger earlier in camp and noted how the Baltimore native was playing well defensively. Clevenger had a rough day behind the plate on Thursday, including a dropped pop up in foul territory that he may have lost in the sun.

Clevenger remains a potential trade candidate, though Wieters’ absence may preclude the Orioles from making a deal. The logjam has loosened.

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