SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles catcher Matt Wieters joked that catching six innings in Sunday's 10 a.m. "B" game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium gave him the opportunity to catch the first morning-game-after-day-game of his career.
For the first time this spring Wieters, who is coming off Tommy John surgery last June, caught on back-to-back days in a pair of exhibition games in which there was no throwing. Barring a setback on Monday, Wieters will take Monday off and then be cleared to catch in his first Grapefruit League game Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium.
"I'm excited to get back out there in a real game with the crowd back there," said Wieters, who Sunday played in an empty stadium in front of media and scouts. "It's what I enjoy doing, so it's exciting to get back there behind the plate and playing with the guys."
It's going to be constant maintenance and stuff throughout the year, but me and (head trainer) Richie (Bancells) talked the other day and all the rehab throwing program stuff is pretty much done," Wieters said. "Now it's just a matter of keeping it healthy and keeping it ready for games, which is a good thing when I don't have to come to the park and go through a couple hours of rehab just to get on the field every day."
Even though Wieters didn't exert himself throwing the past two days behind the plate, it gave him an opportunity to get his legs under him while catching up with the team's more established pitchers. Wieters caught right-handers Kevin Gausman and Zach Britton on Sunday and caught Chris Tillman, Tommy Hunter and Darren O'Day on Saturday.
"It's nice to get back out there and catch Gausman and catch Zach and see how they are throwing the ball," Wieters said. "It's nice to get to the point where you're calling a game and reading swings."
On Tuesday, Wieters said he will be eager to put his first throw in a game behind him.
"I think you'd like to get it out of the way," he said. "I'm going to be ready for it, but getting the first one out of the way will be big for me."
Wieters, who is 0-for-20 at the plate in Grapefruit League games this spring as a designated hitter, went 1-for-3 in Sunday's "B" game, hitting an infield single on a comebacker that hit off Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano and rolled toward second base.
"It was nice to get on base," Wieters said. "I looked at (manager) Buck (Showalter) and Buck asked me if I wanted the ball. It was probably my worse swing of the day, but that's the funny thing about baseball. I got on first base with it."