Q&A with Steve Clevenger

DAYTONA BEACH — Steve Clevenger spent last fall in the annual Instructional League and was later held over in Extended Spring Training in Arizona earlier this season, mainly for one common goal: to get aquainted with life behind the dish. Have those plans been scrapped, or are they just beginning?

Having taken a considerable amount of reps behind the plate beginning in Instructs last fall, the versatile Clevenger was assigned to short-season Class Low A Boise to officially begin his 2007 regular season.

The position change — one of many Clevenger has endured having seen playing time at first and second base, shortstop and now catcher — did not affect his hitting. In fact, the 21-year-old Cubs prospect and seventh-round selection in the 2006 draft boasts that it has only helped him at the plate.

After batting .286 in 63 games in his debut season a year ago, the left-handed hitting Clevenger hit .373 with nine doubles in a span of 22 games with Boise prior to getting the callup to Class High A Daytona.

He was in the lineup on Tuesday, going 2-for-4 with a walk to push his on-base percentage above .400 since leaving Extended.

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Q: The organization has moved you around a little bit out in the field. Where do you think you'll eventually end up?

A: To be honest with you, I have no idea. Right now we're still experimenting, but I think that the ultimate goal is to permanently put me behind the plate once I get more experience.

Q: In the time you've been catching, have you been able to gain a little familiarity and get comfortable behind the plate?

A: Definitely once you get the experience behind the plate, you start to get real comfortable pretty fast. It comes with ease the more innings you get back there. It's really important to learn all of the pitchers on your staff. Once you get set on one team, it kind of slows down and gets easier because you're dealing with the same pitchers.

Q: Is it a little frustrating that the organization hasn't found any one true permanent place for you in the field yet, or do you try to take it as a positive that they see your versatility?

A: I definitely take it as a positive. I can play any infield position; I can DH, and can even play behind the plate, so yeah, I take it as a positive. As long as I'm in the lineup, it doesn't matter to me where I'm playing.

Q: You were tearing it up at Boise before you left. Any secret to your success this season with the bat?

A: Last year, I was coming from college and just starting to swing the wood bats. I've been swinging wood bats for about a year and a half now, and catching has helped me. When you're behind the plate, it helps you out with your hitting. Knowing what pitchers are going to do what in situations and how they are going to pitch me helps you hit.

Q: You have some gap power and are a disciplined contact hitter now, but what kind of a hitter do you see yourself developing into in the future?

A: I see myself as a gap-to-gap guy. I don't really see myself hitting 20 or 30 home runs. I just try to put the ball in play as much as possible and try to cut down on the strikeouts and get on base. If you keep your on-base percentage up and your average up, they have to put you somewhere and get you in the lineup.

Q: Were you surprised when you skipped (full-season Class A) Peoria and came straight to Daytona?

A: I definitely was. I walked into the (Boise) clubhouse and was expecting to hear that I was moving up to Peoria. They had hinted that I would be moving up and I was quite shocked that I was coming down here. Jumping over Peoria and coming straight here is good for my confidence and it's great to be here.


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