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Baltimore Orioles

Matt Wieters to catch in intrasquad game

SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be behind the plate in a game-like setting for the first time since May when he starts in Sunday's intrasquad game on the Ed Smith Stadium main field.

Wieters, who had elbow ligament reconstruction surgery last June 16, won't be given clearance to throw at 100 percent until March 17, but he will catch in a simulated scenario — including minor league games and B games — to build his innings behind the plate. That is so when he returns to Grapefruit League games he can immediately catch five-to-seven innings.

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Wieters and the other five Orioles catchers in big league camp are each slated to catch two innings on Sunday.

"This is a day I've been waiting for about nine months now," Wieters said. "It's what I enjoy doing and even though it won't be full catching and throwing and doing everything full, it's still nice to get behind the plate and be able to get work in as a catcher at least."

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After 10 days of spring training — including four full-squad workouts — the intrasquad game will be a reprieve from the redundancy of practice drills on the spring training complex back fields.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter called Saturday's workout "uneven." The Orioles will open their Grapefruit League slate on Tuesday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., and then have their home opener on Wednesday against Detroit.

"I don't know if they're ready to play," Showalter said. "I think they're ready to have a game happen. You kind of get to a point where we go through things so many times."

As for Wieters, he knows Sunday will mark the beginning of some busy days. Aside from catching, he will also DH in Grapefruit League games — including some on the road — to ensure he gets at-bats. He'll also continue his throwing progression rehab work.

"It's going to be a full spring and that's OK because I had a lot of time off that I didn't want off last year during the season," said Wieters, who said he will DH in Wednesday's home opener. "I'm ready for it. I'm ready to get in as much work as possible without at the same time going too far overboard the other way where we risk injury. I'm definitely aware that from the moment I get here to the moment I leave, I won't have too much spare time just sitting down at my locker."

Davis taking his turns in right field

Chris Davis participated in defensive drills in right field during Saturday's workout.

"He did a nice job for us at third base [last season]. That's the versatility and maneuverability it gives us," Showalter said. "That's kind of what we have to be able to do. But we're only going to do it if they can present themselves defensively, and he can. I think he's as good a right fielder as he is a first baseman. We know he has plenty of arm."

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Showalter said Davis and Steve Pearce could see time at first base and the outfield. Pearce can play both corner outfield spots and while Showalter said he's more comfortable with Davis in right, he didn't rule out him playing in left.

"I have no doubt Chris could pick that up if he had to," Showalter said.

Davis made 104 of his 123 starts last season at first base, making the other 19 at third while filling in for an injured Manny Machado. He made 28 starts in right and 11 in left in 2012.

Around the horn

Eight pitchers were sent to minor league camp to pitch to live hitters in order to make Saturday's workout 45 minutes shorter. That group was Wei-Yin Chen, Dane De La Rosa, Oliver Drake, Eddie Gamboa, Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez, Steve Johnson and Brian Matusz. … Showalter will use some pitchers from the minor league minicamp to cover innings for Thursday's Grapefruit League day-night split-squad games at the Tampa Bay Rays in the afternoon and at home at night against the Toronto Blue Jays.

eencina@baltsun.com

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