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Tommy John surgery 'was inevitable' early in process, catcher Matt Wieters says

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Catcher Matt Wieters said Wednesday that it seemed inevitable that he would need season-ending elbow surgery shortly after he resumed throwing less than three weeks ago. He also said it was important to undergo the procedure immediately in order to have the best chance of being ready for Opening Day next season.

Wieters, who had Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery Tuesday, said he felt good a day after the procedure and is looking forward to beginning the rehabilitation process quickly to ensure that he's back for the beginning of the 2015 season.

“I feel good, everything they got, surgery went well,” Wieters said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “And hopefully we will get all the soreness out of here in a couple days and get going on the rehab.”

Wieters said he plans to begin his rehab in Atlanta, his new hometown, but he hopes to rejoin the team for the stretch run in August and September.

“It’s going to be real hard [being away],” Wieters said. “And that’s why the plan all along was to be around the team as much as possible. And for me, it will help give peace of mind in keeping in touch with the guys every day and being able to help out when I can.

“It’s something that’s a new experience for me, and it’s something I’m going to have to go through every step by step, and make decisions on what’s best for the arm, and what’s best for the team the whole way around.”

The Orioles and Wieters had previously hoped that three weeks of not throwing would give his elbow enough time to heal, but Wieters said it became clear early in the process that he would eventually need surgery. Because of that, he said he wanted to have the surgery now rather than try to keep holding out hope for this season.

“Once we started a couple throwing sessions in, and it was still feeling like it was before, it was a sign that we weren’t quite happy with where it was,” Wieters said. “We were hoping it was going to be almost completely gone when we started throwing again.

“But it’s something to where we always knew it was a possibility, and we just didn’t want to go through piecing it together for a month or so, when it was inevitable, and then we cost ourselves some time the following year.”

Now, Wieters’ focus turns to getting ready for the beginning of next season, his final year before he becomes a free agent.

“That’s the plan,” Wieters said. “It’s something where they can’t give you any guarantees. It’s still Tommy John, and it’s going to be 9 to 12 months before you’re going to be back, but the plan is, hopefully if all the rehab goes well, we’ll be ready to go right around Opening Day.”

eencina@baltsun.com

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