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Caleb Joseph Taking Responsibility As Orioles Starting Catcher

March 12, 2018
SARASOTA, Fla. -- A year ago, Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph was peppered with questions about his RBI-less 2016 season. But throughout this year's spring training, that couldn't be farther from Joseph's mind.
Joseph followed his nightmarish 2016 by hitting .256 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs, and this spring, he's batting a robust .444 (8-for-18) with a homer and five RBIs.

"It's spring training. That sums it up," Joseph said. "There's been springs when you didn't get any hits. There's been springs where you've gotten a ton of hits. I wish it mattered."
But this spring is different for the 31-year-old Joseph. He's moved to the corner locker in the clubhouse, the one that longtime Orioles catcher Matt Wieters occupied for years, and that Welington Castillo used last year.  
It's been a long time coming for Joseph, who spent five years at Double-A Bowie working tirelessly to improve his defense.
"[It's] my 11th year in the organization. I busted my rear, not only to make it, but to stay," Joseph said. "It feels good, a little sense of accomplishment. I don't think you ever get comfortable. I'd be lying if [I] didn't say it feels pretty good. It's been good. Eleven years, that's a long time."
The Orioles hope catching prospect Chance Sisco will be a star behind the plate, even though he may start the season at Triple-A Norfolk. Sisco -- a second-round draft pick in 2013 -- is solid offensively but needs to work on his defense.
While Joseph's tenure as the primary catcher could be relatively brief, he's taking the job of mentoring the other backstops -- Sisco, Andrew Susac and Austin Wynns -- seriously. None of the three has been a regular catcher in the majors.
"There's a greater sense of responsibility, though, and that's the most important thing," Joseph said.
"You're trying to help bridge that gap. It's the stuff that Wieters did with me -- tips and tricks, asking them things, helping them, maybe trying to understand things. It's going to pick up even more as we get even closer.
"I'm going to have to really start bearing down, especially on like pitch calling. As it gets closer, you're trying to get guys in. Guys are maybe working on stuff, and then as it gets later, you're getting into more serious situations where they're going to need to do stuff in the game and in the season, so it's stuff like that you're constantly talking about."
Sisco, in particular, has gotten Joseph's attention.
"We're always talking about framing, receiving the ball," Joseph said.
"We're always trying to improve our throwing. It's something, a point of emphasis we worked, really all of us, especially the last two or three weeks. It's a tough move. Really, really fast people are going from first to second. You've only got maybe 1.8 seconds to put the ball exactly where you want to. It's a tough move, but I've been really encouraged by his progress the last few weeks."
Recently acquired right-hander Andrew Cashner made his Orioles debut in Grapefruit League play March 11 and was complimentary of Joseph, calling him "a great receiver"
"It's like the first day of school," Joseph said of catching Cashner. "Go catch him, see what he likes to do, see how the pitches move, and then review it later, and then start over and do it all over again. There's things that you start learning and figuring out about people in mid-June. It's just how it is."

Follow Rich on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox