SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who coming off reconstructive elbow ligament surgery in June, will continue to rehabilitate his throwing arm this spring but will have no restrictions as a hitter as camp opens this week, manager Buck Showalter said Wednesday.
Showalter said Wieters will likely see time as a designated hitter for the first two weeks of spring training games.
"I don't think I'll take him to Lakeland [for the Grapefruit League opener], but he will DH both intrasquad games — if we end up playing two — and he's going to have to break out the gray pants [for road games]," Showalter said. "He'll get as many at bats as he's gotten in a spring, as will [third baseman] Manny [Machado]. They've got to catch up."
Showalter said that while Wieters will participate in all spring training practice opportunities expect for throwing, he isn't projected to catch in a game until March 17 at the earliest. On that schedule, Wieters would have 2 ½ weeks to catch in games before Opening Day on April 6.
As pitchers and catchers officially report to spring training Thursday, Wieters is already in Sarasota resuming his throwing progression.
The progress of Wieters and Machado, who is coming off right-knee surgery, will be among the major storylinesof spring training.
The Orioles are optimistic that Wieters will be ready by Opening Day, but if Wieters isn't ready to catch by the beginning of the regular season, Showalter said he would likely remain in Sarasota, rather than join the team as a DH.
Don Werner's return
Showalter met with the major and minor league staff for more than three hours Wednesday to discuss spring training. Showalter said the highlight of the day was seeing minor league catching coordinator Don Werner, who has received a clean bill of health following a bout with breast cancer.
"The highlight of this camp so far has been Don Werner sitting in our meeting today," Showalter said. "That's pretty cool. He got a standing ovation today."
Showalter said Werner's cancer was found after team trainers saw some inaccuracies in tests done during his pre-spring training physical last year.
Werner is scheduled to throw batting practice during the Orioles' first workout for pitchers and catchers on Friday.
Around the horn
Five Orioles spring training games will be televised on MLB Network: March 8 at the Twins, March 13 at the Blue Jays, March 15 at the Pirates, March 26 at the Tigers and March 28 at the Yankees. … Beginning with the Orioles' first spring training workout on Friday, fans are welcome to attend workouts for free at the Ed Smith Stadium complex leading up until the team's first home Grapefruit League game on March 4. The club will work out from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Parking is available in the stadium east lot off 12th Street and Tuttle Avenue. ... Zion Lutheran Church will hold its fifth annual baseball talk at 7 p.m. Monday in the church's sanctuary at 2215 Brandywine Lane, York, Pa. The event features Fred Manfra, Orioles radio play-by-play broadcaster; Mel Antonen, baseball writer for SI.com and MASN, and Sirius/XM talk-show host; and Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly. There is no admission fee, but a freewill offering will be taken to benefit the church's youth attending the National Youth Gathering in July in Detroit. For more information, contact the church at 717-767-4673.