Orioles catcher Matt Wieters started 54 of the club's first 161 games behind the plate this year as he worked his way back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2014. But he really wanted to start Sunday — the Orioles' 2015 season finale, which might have been his final game in an Orioles uniform.
"I wanted to catch today," said Wieters, a pending free agent. "No matter what happened the last few weeks, I was going to do whatever I had to [do] to catch today and play — hopefully not — but maybe the last game on the home side."
Showalter said the decision to put Wieters in the starting lineup and behind the plate — potentially one last time — was a scripted one.
"We had it mapped out when we got off the road trip to see if he was thinking the same thing I was," Showalter said. "I think it's important for Matt to be back there, regardless, because he knows he's a contributor and a guy we count on."
Wieters, 29, has been with the organization since being selected fifth overall out of Georgia Tech in the 2007 amateur draft. He made his debut with the Orioles — to much fanfare — in May 2009 and has since been selected to three All Star teams and won two Gold Gloves.
"It was emotional before the game, and then the game came and I was able to focus on the task at hand and then when it's over, it's over and you soak it in for a little bit," Wieters said. "I loved every second I've spent here and I loved everybody in this clubhouse, and I loved all the fans. If it ends today, it was a great time."
At one point Sunday, Wieters was told he sounded like someone who didn't expect to be back with the Orioles.
"I speak like a guy who doesn't know what's going to happen this offseason, and it's the first time that I will have gone through that," he said. "All you can do is really embrace it and take it for what it is."