Since returning from the disabled list, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters always looked at this week’s series against the Minnesota Twins as his first opportunity to catch on back-to-back days for the first time after returning from Tommy John surgery. The timing was right, as it allowed Wieters to catch consecutive night games, then have two days off to recover.
Each step in Wieters’ recovery from right elbow ligament reconstruction has been written in pencil, not ink, but the plan worked out as Wieters started at catcher for a second straight day Tuesday, marking the first time he did so since May 1-2, 2014. He will receive the next two days off — Wednesday afternoon’s series finale and the club’s day off Thursday.
“Like we said, it was when, not if,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It was kind of a real soft target date to start off with because we have two off-days. … He’s going to try to go into the All-Star break with that under his belt. It was just a good fit. … If he was still a little tentative with it, we wouldn’t have. You can see him with pickoff throws and throws to second. I think for him, it’s as much a mental hurdle as it is a physical hurdle.”
Wieters had made 16 starts at catcher since being activated from the 60-day DL on June 5, just less than a year after his surgery, before making starting behind the plate on a second consecutive day Tuesday.
“I’m excited about the progression,” Wieters said. “It’s something where it’s still going to be a progression throughout the year. You want it to be able to get up to three games in a row and even four games in a row. Whenever it happens, it happens, but being able to catch back-to-back games is a good progression, and we’re still going to have to look at it each day we come in. We may not need an extra day here or there, but we just felt like this was a good time where we would get that extra day automatically doing two days in a row.”
After receiving two days off, Wieters plans to catch back-to-back days against the Washington Nationals on Friday and Saturday, then get Sunday’s day game off before receiving four more days off for the All-Star break.
“We were hoping that this would be a good time, but we never wanted to set an exact date because you are still going to have to play [to] how the arm feels,” Wieters said. “We always looked at, just the way the schedule set up, that this might be a good place if everything goes well to try to do it back-to-back.”
Wieters said he began throwing on his days off about two weeks ago, and his arm actually felt better on the days he caught after he began doing so. Wieters has thrown out two of six baserunners attempting to steal, his 33 percent slightly above the league average of 32 percent.
“I got a little movement and it felt better that next day when I catch than if I had taken that day completely off,” Wieters said.
Jones all in on All-Star Game
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said Tuesday that he will play in next Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
Jones was selected to play in his fourth straight All-Star Game — and his fifth overall — on Monday. He was selected in the players’ vote, as was third baseman Manny Machado. Orioles closer Zach Britton and setup man Darren O’Day were manager’s selections.
After being selected, Jones said he was uncertain whether he’d play, saying it would be a good time to rest his body. Jones missed nine games with a right shoulder injury last month and also missed two games with a left ankle sprain in May.
Jones missed only five games combined over the previous three seasons from 2012 to 2014.
“I was selected to the All-Star team, I’m going to play in the All-Star Game,” Jones said. “The players selected me, so unless something happens between now and then, I’m probably going to be playing.”
Orioles could add player Wednesday
The Orioles likely won’t wait until Thursday, when they need to activate outfielder Nolan Reimold from the paternity list, to make a roster move.
The club could option right-hander Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk, a move that would allow him to keep pitching over the All-Star break while also opening roster space. They could make that move after his start Tuesday in order to start his 10-day minor league option clock, allowing Gausman to return on July 18.
Conceivably, the Orioles could add a position player — Norfolk first baseman Christian Walker was a healthy scratch Tuesday — or a reliever if the bullpen became overworked Tuesday.
They would then be able to send that player back to the minors to activate Reimold from the paternity list Thursday.
Around the horn
When Machado opened Monday’s game against the Twins with a leadoff homer on his 23rd birthday, he joined an exclusive club. Machado became the youngest Orioles player to homer on his birthday since Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. on his 23rd birthday. Ripken hit a game-tying 10th-inning homer in a 7-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 24, 1983. … Machado was also the third player this season to lead off the top or bottom of the first inning with a homer on his birthday, joining outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who did that for the Orioles on April 11, and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (June 28). Even though three players have accomplished that this season, no major leaguers did it over the previous 12 seasons from 2003 to 2014. ... Double-A Bowie right-hander Terry Doyle was named Eastern League Player of the Month for June on Tuesday. Doyle — also the organization’s Pitcher of the Month for June, an Eastern League All-Star and Eastern League Pitcher of the Week on June 8 — went 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 35 innings over five June starts.
Here is the Orioles starting lineup:
Manny Machado 3B
Jimmy Paredes DH
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Chris Parmelee 1B
Travis Snider LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Kevin Gausman RHP