Peter Schmuck talks with Orioles catcher Matt Wieters talks about his contract and returning after surgery. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, reflecting on his offseason as he prepared to take the field for the Orioles' first pitcher/catcher workout at Ed Smith Stadium on Friday, said he has never regretted his decision to accept the Orioles' qualifying offer last November.
"As soon as I decided, I was pretty much at peace with the decision and nothing over the course of the whole offseason made me question that at all," Wieters said.
"Yes and no,'' he said. "When we went into the offseason, we went through all of the different scenarios and we kept coming back with, Baltimore is a place I've been comfortable playing and always been, so if that offer's there, we would be willing to consider it."
The logic was unassailable. Wieters was coming off a partial season following Tommy John elbow surgery, so sticking around to prove he's completely healthy will only make him more valuable when he becomes eligible for free agency again after this season.
"It was an expedited seven-day procedure for me, but it was in my mind and I just kept praying about it and the Lord kept saying 'Baltimore might be the city where you're supposed to be this year.' So, I was more than excited to accept it. I thought this offseason was going to be completely different going into it, but I was glad that I had the decision done and I'm excited to get back to spring training."
Agent Scott Boras had never accepted a QO before, but Wieters said it was not a case where he was overruling his adviser. They came to the decision together after Boras did a relatively quick analysis of the prospects for getting an optimum multi-year deal.
"It was more of, this is a good situation for me. It was always going to be my decision, but it was a decision that we knew was out there and we felt that this was the best place for me."
Jimenez confident in fellow starters: Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez isn't satisfied with his bounce-back performance last season, and he said he expects all of his fellow starters to take a step forward after what was a difficult season for the entire rotation.
"I think things could have been better," he said. "I improved from the year before, but it was not what I wanted. I know I can do better. I'm excited for this year. It's a new beginning. Every year is a new beginning and I have to work hard to get ready for the season."
He is not alone. Chris Tillman regressed last year, Miguel Gonzalez struggled with injuries and Kevin Gausman remains a work in progress.
"It's not a [secret] that we weren't able to do what we were supposed to do last year," he said, "and everyone is looking forward to get the job done so we can be a winning team."
Wright's potential role: Manager Buck Showalter said Friday that there's no organizational ambivalence about the role that pitching prospect Mike Wright will be auditioning for this season. Despite some speculation last year that Wright might be better suited to a late-inning relief role, he still is being viewed exclusively as a potential starter.
"He came up [last season] and pitched lights out the first time and pretty good outing the second time and then had some bumps," Showalter said. "The world's full of that. I'm viewing him as a starting pitching candidate for us. Those other things are down the road. That's where all clubs, and especially us, where our needs are."
The Orioles are expected to audition about eight or nine pitchers for the five major league rotation slots and the recallable spot-starter jobs at the Triple-A level. Right now, Wright, Tyler Wilson, Vance Worley and Odrisamer Despaigne are going to compete for the fifth starter role, pending an outcome in negotiations with free agent Yovani Gallardo.
"Mike, he's done some things statistically in Triple-A that some people haven't done who are currently here that we're thinking about, whether it's a Gausman or whoever," Showalter said. "Whatever you want to make of statistics, pretty good."
Redmond misses session: Right-hander Todd Redmond was the only pitcher scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday who did not post. He had to go home to deal with a personal issue, but Showalter said he should return soon.