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Orioles pregame notes on Wieters' rehab return, catching situation and doubleheader pitching

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will begin his minor league rehab assignment tonight at Double-A Bowie.

Wieters, who is starting his final step in returning from Tommy John surgery last June, will likely catch every other day at Bowie and will also have the option of starting at designated hitter on days when he doesn't catch, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

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"The question is going to be about DHing in between," Showalter said. "He's got about 150 at-bats. … It's just the level of pitching. He'll see some better pitching there. He'll get to see underneath the lights. I think the plan is to [have the] option to DH between games. He may or may not do it every day."

Wieters is eligible to be activated from the disabled list next Thursday, but Showalter said he could also return one day later next Friday.

Showalter said the decision to recall Steve Clevenger (Mount St. Joseph) had less to do with Ryan Lavarnway's struggles at the plate and more with Clevenger doing everything he needed to in order to earn a promotion.

The left-handed hitting Clevenger batted .352/.413/.451 in 27 games at Triple-A Norfolk, and received strong marks for his work behind the plate from Tides manager Ron Johnson. Clevenger made the Orioles' Opening Day roster, but was optioned to Norfolk following the first game when the team activated Chris Davis from the restricted list following the end of his suspension.

"Obviously, Steve is swinging the bat well," Showalter said. "I was telling him when we sent him out, trying to be blunt to a fault about what they need to do while they're there. I talked to him about continuing to be engaged with the pitcher, catching and throwing. I told him, 'You're going to be out of options next year, so you're going to be able to control this. Heck, try to present yourself for us and everybody else in the game as good as possible.' I said go down there and lead the league in hitting."

If Lavarnway clears waivers -- he was claimed four different times in the offseason -- he can refuse an outright assignment to Triple-A, but Showalter said he'd like to keep Lavarnway in the organization and added the Orioles would gauge his interest in the next two to three days.

"I just don't think that Ryan's swing and the things he's capable of doing are contusive to playing once a week," Showalter said. "Whose is? I think Steve is better at it."

Though unlikely given the current roster structure, Showalter said the team could carry three catchers once Wieters returns. Caleb Joseph has experience at first base and Wieters would benefit from DHing upon his return.

"It depends on how our club is constructed by then," Showalter said. "That's a long way off."

Left-hander T.J. McFarland will be shortened up in his start tonight at Triple-A Norfolk and remains a candidate to start one of the Orioles' doubleheader games on Thursday against the White Sox. Mike Wright will start one game.

Norfolk right-hander Tyler Wilson is another candidate to start the other game. Teams are allowed to add a 26th player for doubleheaders, but they must be sent down following the games.

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