Cubs' Clevenger Finds A Home Behind The Plate





CHICAGO—Were the Cubs paying back the catcher's spot when they moved Steve Clevenger there?

They had struck gold in moving Carlos Marmol and Randy Wells from behind the plate to the mound. Now it seems that they will also reap dividends in moving the lefthanded-hitting Clevenger from shortstop to catcher.

A 2006 seventh-round pick from Chipola (Fla.) JC, Clevenger made a slow climb upward in the Cubs system, in part because of the position switch. It was made in 2007, but it took until this season for Clevenger to get his chance to be a regular.

He made the most of it, hitting a combined .319/.383/.475 with eight home runs and 56 RBIs between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa to earn a big league promotion after Tennessee lost in the Southern League championship series.

"I had a good year offensively," the 25-year-old Clevenger said. "But I was still learning how to catch and that was my main focus, to concentrate on catching."

Tennessee manager Brian Harper, a former big league catcher, is a major supporter of Clevenger, saying that he is one of the best receivers he has seen. He raves about his abilities as a receiver, saying he's one of the best he's seen. That says a lot.

Harper is only one in a series of instructors who have helped the 6-foot, 195-pound Clevenger become a skilled catcher. He also credits current catching coordinator Marty Pevey along with former coordinators Jody Davis and Casey Kopitzke.

Clevenger and 24-year-old Welington Castillo give the Cubs two advanced prospects behind Geovany Soto. The Cubs face an arbitration decision on veteran backup Koyie Hill this winter, which could open a roster spot for either Clevenger or Castillo.

Clevenger isn't ready to rest though. He'll play in the Dominican League this winter.

Cubbyhole

• The Cubs named first baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair and lefthanded reliever Jeff Beliveau their minor league player and pitcher of the year. Beliveau went 6-2, 1.57 with five saves in 53 relief appearances between high Class A Daytona and Tennessee, striking out 89 and walking 19 over 74 innings. Beliveau joined fellow Cubs prospect Brett Jackson with Team USA for the baseball World Cup in Panama.

• D.J. LeMahieu and Josh Vitters joined Mesa in the Arizona Fall League. Vitters was expected to see time at first base and the outfield, with LeMahieu at third. The position switch didn't affect Vitters' hitting. Playing first base on the AFL's Opening Day, Vitters homered twice and had five RBIs. Vitters was 4-for-12 through his first three games, all at first base.