Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was batting .357 this spring entering today's game against the Phillies, giving fans hope that he will rebound from a disappointing 2010 season. Count Cal Ripken Jr. among those who expect Wieters to bounce back in 2011.
Appearing on "Sports with Coleman" on FOX 1370 Sports Radio this afternoon, the Orioles legend said he thinks Wieters put too much pressure on himself last season as the Orioles stumbled out of the gate and it affected his performance at the plate.
"I haven’t had a chance to know Matt, so I can’t really speak [about] what’s inside his head," Ripken said. "But it seems [as if] he came to the big leagues with high expectations and almost as the savior of the organization. And when they got off to a bad start last year, I think he tried to put more pressure on himself to perform and I think he got himself into a little bit of a funk."
Ripken believes we'll "see a more relaxed Matt Wieters" now that the organization has upgraded the offensive talent around him, which will translate to increased production from the 24-year-old catcher this season.
"He’s learned the pitching staff and he understands them from the defensive side. But offensively, he now has a lineup that has more protection throughout it," Ripken said. "You don’t need just one person behind you to protect you. An offense that works really well together provides protection for everybody. So this is a much more balanced offense and I think you’ll see Matt relax a little bit more and you’ll really start to see the offensive side of him come out."