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Susac called up to replace slumping Joseph

Special to MLB.com

BOSTON -- Despite his paltry offensive numbers, it was somewhat of a surprise when the Orioles announced Thursday afternoon that catcher Caleb Joseph had been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk with catcher Andrew Susac being recalled to take his place on the roster.

Joseph, 31, was hitting .182/.203/.325 with one home run and three RBIs in 24 games this season. He has batted .222/.270/.359 with four home runs and 108 RBIs in 344 games across five seasons with the O's.

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BOSTON -- Despite his paltry offensive numbers, it was somewhat of a surprise when the Orioles announced Thursday afternoon that catcher Caleb Joseph had been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk with catcher Andrew Susac being recalled to take his place on the roster.

Joseph, 31, was hitting .182/.203/.325 with one home run and three RBIs in 24 games this season. He has batted .222/.270/.359 with four home runs and 108 RBIs in 344 games across five seasons with the O's.

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"Just thought it would be best for everybody concerned," manager Buck Showalter said Thursday afternoon, before the start of a four-game series against the Red Sox.

"Andrew has been doing well. Caleb, I think, could use a little break and kind of get back to some things he's capable of. Get some consistent at-bats. Something we've been thinking about and just decided the time was best for him and Andrew. I'm sure Andrew's excited about it. Somebody's not and somebody is. He's been working hard, too, to get an opportunity, so we'll see."

Susac was in the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Red Sox, facing Boston left-hander David Price.

Susac, who was acquired on Feb. 2 from the Brewers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash, went 1-for-12 (.083) in eight games for Milwaukee in 2017. The 28-year-old is a career .232/.299/.396 hitter with seven home runs and 35 RBIs in 104 games at the Major League level.

Susac had not anticipated getting this news, which he received after Wednesday's game with Norfolk.

"Kind of out of nowhere," Susac said. "It's pretty much what it's always been like. It's never when you expect it, I tell everyone.

"Surprised, excited, very excited. Besides the ankle injury down there, I've been feeling pretty good about my game. I'm in a good place right now."

This will be Susac's first appearance with the Orioles. He was hitting .296/.424/.537 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 16 games for Norfolk. Susac hopes he can supply some offense for the Orioles.

"I hope so," he said. "That's the plan. I don't go up there trying to fail. I'm just going to take it just like I was doing down there and keep it going."

Joseph was sent to Norfolk for 10 days in August 2016, with the hope of sparking his offense. While the Orioles hope the time in Norfolk will allow Joseph to do just that, Showalter isn't ready to put a time limit on it.

"That's what we're hoping," Showalter said. "But Andrew, I think everybody here's hoping that he does real well. He's 28 and picking up where he was before he was hurt and be as well thought of as he was. There's room for all of them. The catching position is very volatile physically. Caleb is capable of being back here. I'm not going to say, 'You're right.' That's what happened in the past and could happen again, and we hope for Caleb's sake happens.

"I'm not going to have Andrew thinking it's X number of games and then this guy's back. He's going to try to make an impact on our club and we hope he does."

Telling a player he's being sent down is one of a manager's toughest tasks.

"That's a tough one, a tough one," Showalter said. "They're all tough. But the type of respect we have for Caleb and the things he's done here ... it's hard to see that. ... It could be the best thing over the long term.

"He's actually been somewhat better lately. Just had an opportunity here. Andrew was healthy and doing pretty well. Just felt the timing was right. Get Caleb, see if we can get him going a little bit and also give Andrew a chance and see what we have there, too."

Susac will split time with rookie Chance Sisco.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.

Baltimore Orioles, Caleb Joseph, Andrew Susac