Zoning in on Steve Clevenger

ZoningIn08_Clevenger

Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow: Adam Lind.

Steve Clevenger is one of many new faces joining the Mariners in 2016. Acquired in November in the trade that sent Mark Trumbo to Baltimore, he likely slots behind Chris Iannetta as the team’s backup catcher.

“Adding Steve to our roster further addresses our desire to build depth and balance behind the plate,” General Manager Jerry Dipoto said at the time of the trade. “He’s coming off of a season in which his bat clicked at the Major League level the way it always has in the Minors.”

Last year in 30 games with Baltimore, Clevenger batted .287/.314/.426 in 30 games, a big step up from previous Major League stints.

But there was a particular aspect of his batting that was interesting—he only struck out in 12.4 percent of his plate appearances, closely in line with what he did throughout his minor league career. In terms of controlling the zone, the figure is in stark contrast to where Mariners catchers were last year, striking out in a league-worst 29.6 percent of their plate appearances.

His manager acknowledged Clevenger’s offense was the draw in his acquisition, but there’s more there.

“Clev comes to us more as an offensive-type catcher, not a power hitter by any means, but puts the bat on the ball,” said Scott Servais. “The defense has been better than expected early in camp. The receiving, the blocking skills have all been good.”

The appeal is understandable for the Mariners, and Clevenger is excited to join a team where he’ll have the opportunity to play, but trades are a tough aspect of baseball—doubly so for this one.

Clevenger grew up in Baltimore, and actually used to walk to Orioles games with his cousins when he was a kid.

“Playing in Baltimore, getting to play on your hometown team, it’s great,” Clevenger said at Fan Fest. “There’s nothing like it, especially playing on a team that you rooted for as a kid.”

But now it’s all about the opportunity ahead, not just for him personally, but this team.

“I’m very excited to join a new team over here, and getting started on hopefully winning a World Series.”

Off the Field

This is technically off the field, because he was supposed to be on it for a big game and wasn’t because of an odd story. Last year, just before Hisashi Iwakuma’s no-hitter against Baltimore, Clevenger was in line to be called up from Triple-A Norfolk and play DH for the Orioles against the Mariners. However, the traveling secretary booked the wrong flight and he didn’t make it. Who knows what might have happened if he had.

Being a Baltimore Orioles fan growing up, Clevenger’s favorite player was, naturally, Cal Ripken, Jr.

Lastly, he’s a new dad, as he and his wife Tiffany welcomed daughter Peyton Lee to the family last August. In a funny story, something pretty great happened at Peyton’s very first game.

Highlights

 

 

 

 

Photos

 

More in the Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners series

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