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Buck Showalter on Matt Wieters' Opening Day availability: 'I know he's planning on it'

Orioles manager Buck Showalter listens to catcher Matt Wieters during spring training in late February.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter listens to catcher Matt Wieters during spring training in late February. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

After Matt Wieters caught in a game Sunday for the first time since injuring his surgically repaired right elbow two weeks ago, Orioles manager Buck Showalter gave his strongest declaration yet on his All-Star catcher's availability for the beginning of the season.

Asked Sunday whether Wieters was on pace to be available for Opening Day on April 4 at Camden Yards, Showalter said he was.

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"I know he's planning on it," Showalter said.

Otherwise, Showalter said Wieters' intrasquad minor league game at the team's Twin Lakes complex "went well as could hope."

"It's a good step, catching in a game," Showalter said.

"He had a lot of base runners intentionally. I think he had, like, six or seven throws. The first one, [bench coach John Russell] thought was a little tentative. After that, it was good."

Russell said Wieters threw to second base four times, with one of the throws appearing to get the runner but called safe. He threw out both runners who attempted to steal third base, Russell said.

"His [pop] times got progressively better each time," Russell said.

Wieters has recovered quickly from the injury, which he suffered in a game March 12 when he started feeling soreness after a throw to second base in the first inning of a game against the Minnesota Twins.

An MRI revealed the issue wasn't structural, and though no diagnosis of what caused the tightness Wieters felt was given, he said after the injury that he was treating it as the normal soreness a catcher might get this time of year.

But because of his 2014 Tommy John surgery, the team moved slowly with him. He began throwing early last week, and stretched out the distances as he added at-bats in minor league games. He also served as the designated hitter in a major league game March 24, the last day a player could appear and still have a disabled-list assignment backdated to March 25, which is as far back as a trip to the DL can be retroactively begun.

Once Wieters reports how he feels Monday morning, they'll map out a plan to get him back for Opening Day. That could include more minor league games, as Showalter has said they won't have him catch in a major league game unless they're sure he will be ready by April 4.

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