SARASOTA,Fla — Steve Clevenger has an opportunity in front of him that most young baseball players can only dream of.
The Baltimore, Maryland native has come into Orioles spring training fighting for the backup catcher position on the club he grew up watching.
But first Clevenger has some work to do while in Sarasota to earn his spot on the opening day roster.
Clevenger has been preparing for this opportunity even before pitchers and catchers reported to camp by taking videos to watch before he left for this past off-season.
“I took a bunch of games from a couple of different pitchers,” he said. “When they’re throwing good and when they’re throwing bad, try and find some key points to try and help going into spring.”
Catching and defence are his focuses above all else for his first spring training with the Orioles.
“The offensive side is going to take second by working on my catching,” he said. “But right now I’m working on my defence.”
He realizes he can’t push too hard if he wants to crack the line up.
“I need to go out and not do too much,” he said. “Just go out and be myself and let Buck [Showalter, the manager] make the decision at the end of the day.”
There is also a mentality Clevenger thinks a player needs to have when fighting for a position.
“The game is already hard enough. You just got to got out and play your game,” he said. “At the end of the day whether you make it is up to fate.”
Starting catcher Matt Wieters, a five-year Oriole, has been a big help this spring.
“We go over a lot of pitchers, that what we talk about a lot,” he said. “Try and help these guys on the mound and throw good.”
Even with Wieters being the roadblock to Clevenger being the everyday starting catcher for his hometown team, he had nothing but praise for the all star.
“Two Gold Gloves, two All-Stars, you can’t have a better guy in the clubhouse. He’s a key asset to the team.”
The catcher, who once sat in Camden Yards while Cal Ripken Jr, broke Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played, was ecstatic when he heard about being traded to the team he grew up watching last July.
“I called my mom, she was the first person I called and about two minutes later it was already on the Internet, so I didn’t have to much of chance to tell anybody else but you know it was an exciting time,” he said.
“You get to play for your hometown team. It was a dream come true.”
Hopefully for Clevenger, the dream may be really hit home if he walks out to a hometown ovation when the opening day rosters are announced.