Matt Wieters to Resume Throwing on Saturday

Orioles reporter Britt Ghiroli is reporting that catcher Matt Wieters will resume throwing on Saturday. Wieters is expected to begin the season on the disabled list and will continue to rehab from last June’s Tommy John surgery with the Orioles’ minor league teams in Bowie and Frederick.

This is a positive sign out of Orioles camp, as Wieters was shut down after his first return to live game action behind the plate last Tuesday. Wieters reported no initial ill effects after catching six innings, but slight discomfort prompted the Orioles to shut him down for at least a week. Wieters had made a rapid return to the field after the surgery, and this was his first significant setback, although all sides remain optimistic he will not miss significant playing time this season.

Wieters could have started the season as the Orioles’ designated hitter, but the team is making the right call in focusing on his long term health rather than the short term production they may have received with his bat in the lineup. Wieters had struggled at the plate this spring, failing to hit safely in his first 23 at-bats of Spring Training. The Orioles have sufficient depth at designated hitter with Steve Pearce and Delmon Young more than capable of providing offensive punch.

With Wieters out, the Orioles will start the season with Caleb Joseph handling the primary catching duties. Joseph acquitted himself well in his first big league season last year. Filling in for Wieters, and splitting time with Nick Hundley, Joseph hit nine home runs and drove in 28 in 246 at-bats. His .207 batting average should see an increase with more regular playing time. Perhaps most impressive, Joseph nabbed 40% of would-be base stealers, best in the league. Joseph is batting .333 this spring with two doubles and four runs driven in.

The Orioles should feel confident letting Wieters take as much time as possible to rehab. Much of the Orioles offseason plan this year was guided by the fact that Wieters andAll-Star Manny Machado were expected to play a full season. Missing a few games in April to make sure everything is absolutely right with Wieters’ surgically repaired elbow is the best decision for the Orioles, and having him fully healthy and catching rather than DH’ing come September could be the deciding factor in the AL East division race.

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