KANSAS CITY, Mo.— Matt Wieters' bat has sizzled coming out of the All-Star break, but the Orioles' catcher said he doesn't think the four days of rest over the break has anything to do with it.
Since the break, Wieters was 10-for-21 with four extra-base hits (two homers and two doubles), six runs and four RBIs entering Thursday's series finale in Kansas City. He also carried four consecutive multi-hit games into the final game of the team's seven-game road trip. During the streak, which is the longest of his career, he has raised his batting average 16 points to .247.
"The break definitely helped with the rest," Wieters said. "I don't know if it helped with the swing or not. You go through ups and downs throughout the year and you never know when they're coming. You try not to ask questions. You just go out there and keep working."
Over his career, Wieters has traditionally hit better in the second half, batting 24 points better (.272 to .248) after the All-Star break, which is remarkable considering how often he catches. Wieters has caught the third-most innings in the among American League backstops (757 1/3 innings) entering Thursday and is third in the majors behind Arizona's Miguel Montero (778 1/3 ) and St. Louis' Yadier Molina (761).
"I'm real proud of him," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think as he's gotten older, he's learned how to — not pace himself, that has a bad connotation — but he's very honest with [catchers coach] John [Russell] and I and he always responds well to a day, but our team doesn't always respond well to not having Matt catching. It's kind of a two-edged sword."
"I've always been amazed by any catcher who has good offensive numbers, whether it be [Buster] Posey or Molina or Matty," Showalter added. "I think the hardest thing to do is be a good defensive catcher and be an offensive contributor. He's also been great protection as a switch hitter behind Chris. You look at his RBIs, how many times he's come up with no one on base."
Wieters' two-run homer in the Orioles' 4-3 loss to the Royals on Wednesday was also his 59th since the beginning of the 2011 season, the most by any catcher in that span, ahead of Toronto's J.P Arencibia (58), Atlanta's Brian McCann (57) and Cleveland's Carlos Santana (56).
"When you watch other catchers, you realize how spoiled we are," Showalter said.
The Orioles have six off days over the next five weeks, which should help keep Wieters fresh down the stretch.
Wada struggling at Norfolk
Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada walked five batters and lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his start for Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday.
Wada, who had Tommy John surgery last May, has struggled to gain consistency and has lately battled his control, which was his strength when the Orioles signed him to a two-year, $8.15-million contract out of Japan.
But he's walked eight batters over his past two starts (11 innings). On Thursday, Wada allowed two runs on four hits, but a high pitch count — he threw 101 pitches, 61 of them strikes — led to a short outing.
"It's not unusual," Showalter said. "It's not at all physical pain, you just get a little fearful of the barrel of the bat. You try to be a little too fine because you know you're not carrying all your bullets. It's normal for a guy who has good command to start to have some walk issues."
Over 13 Triple-A starts, Wada is 2-5 with a 5.54 ERA over 65 innings, allowing 75 hits in that span and letting opponents bat .291 against him.
Showalter said sometimes it takes pitchers returning from Tommy John extra time to regain their form. But for now, Wada is not a major-league option if a rotation spot opened and he won't be pitching in relief either.
"I'm not saying it's typical but it's not surprising with that," Showalter said. "That's why you keep going down that road … sometimes it takes extra time. ... But I don't have any doubt at some point, he's going to get back to that form. So who knows when he gets all the way back?"
Schoop completing rehab
Top position player prospect Jonathan Schoop (stress fracture in lower back) is scheduled to end his rehab assignment over the next day or two and rejoin Norfolk.
"He's been doing really good," Showalter said. "We like him. We've been really cautious with him. We want this to be completely taken care of."
Schoop went into Thursday's rehab game at short-season Class-A Aberdeen 13-for-34 with three homers and 10 RBIs between Aberdeen and the Gulf Coast League Orioles.
Schoop has been on the disabled list since May 16, but his lengthy trip to the DL shouldn't prevent him from being a late-season call-up option.
"We'll see what are needs are," Showalter said. "He's obviously on the roster and is a guy we'll consider. Let's see how the year goes. He's still got a lot of time. He's still got better than six weeks."
The Orioles are high on Schoop, ranked the organization's No. 3 prospect by Baseball America, and even though he's been a trade target for other teams wishing to deal with the Orioles, the club has been unwilling to trade him.
Around the horn
Trade discussions continued to deal outfielder Chris Dickerson, who was designated for assignment Friday, but a deal wasn't imminent on Thursday. … Showalter said that rookie Henry Urrutia — who made his fourth major league start Thursday, all at designated hitter — could see time in the outfield, but he didn't have any "immediate plan" for that. "There will be a time and place for it," Showalter said. … Minor league catcher Steve Clevenger (oblique strain), acquired along with Scott Feldman from the Cubs on July 2, made his first rehab start on Thursday for the Gulf Coast League Orioles. The Mount St. Joe's product went 0-for-3. … The Orioles went into Thursday's game with 32 errors in 102 games and are on pace for 51 errors on the season, which would be a club record for fewest in a season. The 2003 Orioles committed 65 errors.
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