Steve Clevenger fit with the Orioles. As a child, he lived in the section of Baltimore called “Pigtown,” named for all the slaughterhouses that were once there.
Clevenger could walk to the ballpark, and did. Later on, his family moved out of the West Baltimore neighborhood. Clevenger went to Mount St. Joseph’s high in Southwest Baltimore and played in what was then the “Crown All-Star Game” at Oriole Park.
He was drafted by the Cubs, and then sent home along with Scott Feldman for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. Please don’t hold that against him.
Clevenger is a fun guy to be around, disarmingly honest. He freely admitted he didn’t know that the grand slam he hit on Sept. 11 against the Kansas City Royals was the Orioles’ second of the inning, tying a record.
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In parts of three seasons with the Orioles, Clevenger got to play in only 69 games. He thought that in 2014, he would get his chance, and he did.
Clevenger made the Opening Day roster, but after Matt Wieters was hurt and Nick Hundley acquired, the Orioles sent him down and kept Caleb Joseph, a decision he seethed about.
But, he worked hard on his defense, and it improved, especially in 2015, and hit .287 in 30 games.
When the Orioles made a qualifying offer to Wieters last month, and he surprisingly accepted, it was clear that Clevenger wouldn’t get many opportunities to catch, and on Wednesday was sent to Seattle for Mark Trumbo and C.J. Riefenhauser.
“No, I wouldn’t say it was a surprise. I had a feeling with Matt signing back, the Orioles, to me, weren’t interested in carrying three catchers, and I kind of figured they’d probably shop me around a little bit and try and get something they could use for the team this year,” Clevenger said on Wednesday night.
“I’m very disappointed I didn’t get to play, but I’m always going to look at my time in Baltimore as a highlight. Getting a chance to play for your hometown team is a dream come true. All my moments here, I’ll always cherish. There’s no bad feelings towards the Orioles. It’s good for me and my family. I get to go to Seattle and hopefully establish myself as a big league player.”
Clevenger played with Nelson Cruz last year, so he won’t be alone with the Mariners. He knows Kyle Seager from playing against him in the minor leagues, and Seattle has a reliever, Tony Zych, he knows from the Cubs organization.
In August, Clevenger became the first player born in Baltimore to homer at Oriole Park, and he has another big day he remembers.
On May 10, 2014, Clevenger had three hits, including the game-winner in a 10th inning win over Houston.
“I always think about the walkoff hit I had in 2014 against Houston, getting pied by Adam [Jones]. It was a fun day, running down the orange carpet on Opening Day. I would say they were my two best memories,” Clevenger said.
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