SARASOTA, Fla.— Orioles catcher Matt Wieters started at designated hitter again on Tuesday, going back-to-back for the first time this spring as he continues to creep closer to his first start behind the plate
“The thing is getting everything else in shape where nothing else is going to get fatigued,” said Wieters, who is slated to make his catching debut March 17, nine months after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. “Try to keep the arm as strong as possible, as long as possible. And that will be kind of the battle during the beginning of the year, making sure the arm doesn’t get tired and I start using bad throwing mechanics to where I could possibly hurt it again. And that’s the biggest thing, keeping it where it’s strong enough and fresh enough where I feel like I can throw at anytime.”
Wieters has been throwing down to the bases for about a week at 70-80 percent, trying to simulate game situations as much as possible. When March 17 comes, assuming there are no setbacks, he will be able to throw full-throttle down to the bases.
“It’s different with adrenaline when an actual baserunner takes off on you,” he said, “but we are going to cross off as many question marks as we can before the game.”
The All-Star catcher said knowing he was going to be able to serve at DH early on in camp should also help him find his timing. Wieters last played in a Major League game in May.
“I knew that it was going to be, I was going to have the at-bats in Spring Training where it wasn’t going to be, ‘OK I feel like I really need to get going here,’” said Wieters, who is among several guys manager Buck Showalter plans to give plenty of spring playing time to. “It’s a long process and you are always going to want to get hits, I don’t care if you’re hitting BP or in a game. But as far as going out there and making sure I can take full swings, cut it loose and know the elbow is going to be fine, mentally is big for me.”