Caleb Joseph on Matt Wieters’ return and more

The Darren O’Day signing didn’t become official until last night, but at least it happened. For a while there, I thought it was going to make a nice stocking stuffer.

At least we already know that Matt Wieters accepted the $15.8 million qualifying offer. There’s no turning back and no animosity coming from his backup.

joseph-catching-white-sidebar.jpgCaleb Joseph wanted Wieters to stay with the Orioles and got his wish. He appreciated Wieters’ heads-up phone call and reminded us at FanFest why he’s such an unselfish and popular teammate.

“It meant a lot,” Joseph said. “I value Matt’s opinion and he by no means was asking permission, but I think he wanted to make sure that I knew that he believed in me. That if he was to go somewhere else, that he thought I could handle the job. That means a lot, not only from a teammate that you play with, but a guy you look up to, a guy you’ve modeled your game after for a while that kind of validates what you think you know in your heart. And it was good.

“I was honored that he called and I was appreciative. It just shows you what type of guy he is.”

Wieters had taken on a mentor role with Joseph, and the lessons extend outside the clubhouse and the ballpark.

“More off the field than on the field,” Joseph said. “We have a really close relationship. We’ve been able to lean on him for a lot of stuff, a lot of personal stuff, but on the field he basically helped teach me the move I make before I throw down to second base, and that has helped change my career a little bit. We talk hitting, we talk receiving. He’s helped me a lot with scouting reports.

“I always go to him when I have a question about a hitter. The guy’s got five, six seven years under his belt, he’s won Gold Gloves, he’s been in All-Star Games. He knows what he’s talking about. I trust him. If I don’t get a read on somebody, I’m going to ask him before I ask anybody else. That’s the biggest thing. He’s been in my corner. He’s been a big supporter and I appreciate that.”

Wieters feigned disappointment at FanFest that outfielder Colby Rausmas beat him to the honor of becoming the first player to accept the qualifying offer. Wieters finished a close second.

“I figured that there was a chance he could get what he was looking for on the market, and I was more surprised that the market reacted the way that it did,” Joseph said. “I’m glad it reacted the way it did. We get to be teammates for another year. So, yeah, a little bit surprised, but not that he chose Baltimore. Just more surprised that what he’s looking for wasn’t out there.”

Joseph appeared in 82 games as a rookie in 2014 and 100 this season, but he could be spending more time on the bench with Wieters ready to take on a much heavier workload.

“It will be a learning curve there, but, hey, if Matt catches 140 games and I get 20-something and we make the playoffs, I’ll be really happy, because I want to play in the playoffs again,” Joseph said. “I don’t care if that means me catching 10, 20, 50, 100. I don’t care. I want to get back to the playoffs and I want to experience that again, because sitting at home and watching the Royals win this whole thing sucked and I don’t want to do that again. I don’t care what it takes. I’ll do whatever.”

Joseph also has appeared in five games at first base in the majors. He’s played first base, left field and right field in the minors, and manager Buck Showalter indicated that Joseph could move around a little in 2016.

“I’ll be prepared to do whatever, and I said that when I got drafted,” Joseph said. “I probably said it to you guys in my first big league camp. I’ll do whatever. I’ll play first, left, I’ll bullpen catch, I’ll do whatever. Whatever it takes, sign me up. I’m in.”

Joseph won’t have any competition for the backup job after the Orioles traded catcher Steve Clevenger to the Mariners for Mark Trumbo and left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser.

“I was a little bit surprised,” Joseph said. “I enjoyed playing with Clev. Hometown guy, he worked hard for the Orioles and he was good. He was a supporter.

“I appreciate the way he treated me in terms of, there could be some potential adversity there. We were kind of fighting for the same spot. He was always extremely positive with me, but once Matt signed back, we kind of heard they had interest and we thought maybe there would be a swap. And sure enough, there was.”

Joseph and Trumbo are represented by the Wasserman Media Group, which came in handy when the catcher was looking for a scouting report.

“He hits the ball real hard. Real hard,” Joseph said. “There’s a distinct sound in the big leagues some people make when they hit it and he’s one of them. He’s got tremendous bat speed. My agent told me, ‘You’re going to really like this guy. He’s a thinker, he likes to talk hitting, he’s a good dude.’ So I’m excited to meet him.”

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