SARASOTA, Fla. — Matt Wieters seemed like the perfect choice to catch for the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic, but the two-time All-Star made it clear early on that he wanted to spend as much time as possible in spring camp with the Orioles.
“I’d love to be able to play for my country,’’ Wieters said Tuesday, “but, at the same time, you have responsibilities to your team and responsibilities, for me, to the pitching staff — to be able to get to know them and go through spring training with them.”
There are all sorts of reasons for him to stay in Sarasota. Wieters caught more innings than any other catcher in the American League last year, so staying in camp allows him to build up more slowly toward the regular season.
“It’s different on a pitcher or a catcher than it is for a position player,’’ Wieters said, “because once the position player’s body is ready to go, they are good to go as opposed to pitchers and catchers. You can’t just crank it up to full speed right out of the get-go.”
Technically, he never turned down the opportunity to play in the WBC.
“It was just more preliminary talk at the beginning and I sort of let on that I was probably leaning toward just spending the whole time in spring training,’’ he explained. “It never really got to the final say.”
Two other Orioles catchers in major league camp are participating in the WBC. Allan de San Miguel (Australia) has already left for first-round games in Taiwan, and Chris Robinson (Canada) will join his team this weekend. The Canadian team begins pool play in Phoenix along with the U.S., Mexico and Italy.