Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the decision to keep rookie Caleb Joseph on the active roster and send Steve Clevenger to Triple-A Norfolk was "51 to 49 percent."
In activating first baseman Chris Davis from the paternity list, the Orioles needed to send one of their three catchers to the minor leagues. It wasn't going to be veteran Nick Hundley, whom the Orioles acquired in a deal with the San Diego Padres on Saturday.
So the choices were Joseph, a 27-year-old career minor leaguer who had one hit in 23 at-bats (.043) in the majors heading into Tuesday, and Clevenger, the 28-year-old Baltimore native who hit .243 in 74 at-bats.
Both were forced to refine their defensive games behind the plate at the major league level, but Joseph (4-for-10) threw out more potential base-stealers through Monday than Clevenger (3-for-20) in half the opportunities. In the end, Joseph stayed, in what seemed like a bit of a surprise.
But Showalter said the organization was torn on which way to go.
"It's 51 to 49 percent. If you ask 10 guys in the decision-making process, it might be five and five," Showalter said. "I mean there's not a bad there, because we like both of them, they both have [minor league] options. We are fortunate to have three guys that can help us up here."
With Hundley presumably taking over as starting catcher while Matt Wieters is on the disabled list with a strained right elbow, whoever stayed in the majors would be relegated to a backup role.
And Showalter said he wanted Clevenger catching every day in the minors. That continued experience could be valuable if Wieters doesn't return to the lineup and opts for surgery.
"Yeah, that's part of it. I want him to kind of get back in that flow of catching every day. And in a perfect world, Caleb would be doing that, too," Showalter said. "But if Matt comes back, if that is heading in that direction, it might change the dynamics of how we look at it."
The Orioles are 5-3 in games that Joseph has started and 8-10 in games that Clevenger started. But Showalter said both held their own behind the plate.
"I've been impressed with both of them, [Joseph] and Stevie. They are high effort. They are pleasers. They want to do whatever it takes with the pitching staff," Showalter said. "They are very approachable and they share their thoughts. I like both of them. They both did a good job."
Showalter added that he didn't want to send either down.
"Regardless of which one I called in there, I didn't like it," he said. "I don't like sending out good players. We are doing a lot more of that lately, it seems like."
Davis returns to the Orioles
Davis re-joined the Orioles Tuesday around 1 p.m. in Milwaukee after the birth of his daughter Sunday night in Baltimore.
"It was definitely a life-changing experience, something I'll never forget and hopefully something I'll get to do again," Davis said.
Davis could have missed one more game on paternity leave, but he said he talked with his wife, Jill, about it, and they decided after getting everyone home from the hospital that he'd fly to Milwaukee.
"She knows where my heart is. Even though I'm not there in physical form, I'm still with those guys. It's hard to stay away." he said. "We watched both games, and she knows that I get excited when baseball season fires up."
Update on Santana in Florida
In what is expected to be his final outing in extended spring training, left-hander Johan Santana threw 76 pitches in 4 1/3 innings Tuesday against players in the Boston Red Sox organization. He allowed two runs and six hits while striking out eight.
His fastball was clocked in the 86 to 88 mph range, with his slider at 77 to 81 mph and his change-up from 72 to 78 mph.
Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who is recovering from shoulder surgery, can opt out of his minor league deal with the Orioles on Friday. It is expected that he will be sent to a minor league affiliate soon, likely his next time out.
"I know there are other teams watching him throw, waiting to see what we are going to do," Showalter said. "I think it's at the point now either he goes out [to the minors] or he pitches one more time [in extended]. It's a matter of when. I'll let them figure that out. I think he is very close."
Around the horn
Right-hander Edgmer Escalona (right shoulder) threw three innings in extended spring training Tuesday. He also should be ready to pitch in the minors on a rehab assignment. … Outfielder Francisco Peguero (wrist), whose rehab assignment at Triple-A Norfolk expires Thursday, missed both games of the Tides' doubleheader Tuesday with sore hamstrings. … Outfielder Nolan Reimold had one hit in four at-bats in extended spring training Tuesday. … Brewers pitchers Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo taped photos of Mark Reynolds in an Orioles uniform with the words, "Do Not Admit," on the railing of the visiting dugout before batting practice. They were teasing Reynolds for spending time with his old teammates. … An error on Davis last Wednesday in Pittsburgh has been changed to a double. That means Chris Tillman has been charged with eight earned runs in a one-inning performance, not six.