Orioles beat writer Eduardo A. Encina talks about catcher Matt Wieters' recovery from Tommy John surgery and his progress during spring training. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles catcher Matt Wieters enters Tuesday's game against the New York Yankees hitless in 13 Grapefruit League at-bats, but manager Buck Showalter sees no reason for concern.
"The game speed, you think about how long it's been since he was in game speed, but [the lack of hits is] the least of my worries. It will click at some point. It's not like he's swinging and missing a lot. He's just not squaring up balls like he will."
Wieters is playing in Grapefruit League games as a designated hitter – Tuesday will be the first time he does so on back-to-back days – while rounding out his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery. He's begun throwing to bases, his final step before he is cleared to catch in games.
Wieters will catch in back-to-back simulated games Saturday and Sunday on the Ed Smith back fields, and he's scheduled to catch in a Grapefruit League game Monday.
Meanwhile, logging at bats at DH helps him get ready for the season while he not cleared to throw in games.
"I think he's second on our team in plate appearances this spring," Showalter said. "[We'll] keep running him out there. I think it's going to take a little longer. ... We knew coming in, he missed a lot of time, a lot of time."
Update on Webb
The swelling in right-hander Ryan Webb's left knee has begun to subside, but he's still expected to be several days away from pitching again.
Webb tweaked his knee during a workout Sunday while playing catch, but he completed the workout. He said the knee began to swell after icing it for the rest of the day. An MRI performed on Monday revealed no structural damage and Webb said he was told the swelling was caused by an allergic reaction to the ice.
He's still considered day-to-day, and Showalter said it's possible Webb could pitch in Friday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin or Saturday's home game against the Tampa Bay Rays .
"I'm sure he'll be ready to go by Saturday," Showalter said.
Showalter said major league pitchers and position players will participate two games on the back fields of the Ed Smith complex this weekend -- Saturday's minor league exhibition against prospects from Puerto Rico and a B-game on Sunday-- as well as an exhibition against the Canadian junior national team on Monday in St. Petersburg.
"We'll have some people pitching. We'll have some people playing in those games who are going to get some at bats in those games," Showalter said. "We're going to treat all three of them kind of like split-squad games. ... Maybe [I'll send] a pitcher to the Canadian game because it's up in St. Pete."
Before Tuesday's game, the Orioles pumped in crowd noise on the stadium sound system to help to simulate game action while conducting pickoff and rundown drills.
"I wonder if we'll going to get a noise complaint today," Showalter said, referring to the last time the Orioles used the crowd noise, which drew a complaint for a neighbor. "We didn't turn it up as high.
"You know, it's funny the energy level when you have with that noise, it's just a whole different atmosphere. It's just different."
The audio clip is a loop of Camden Yards crowd noise after Delmon Young's go-ahead three-run double in the Orioles' Game 2 win over the Detroit Tigers in last year's American League Division Series.
"I'm glad we had some stuff to pull from last year, some soundtrack," Showalter said. "In years past, we'd have to go to the '83 club to get that amount of noise. We were able to create our own from our fans."