By Olivia Witherite
It’s February, so you know what that means: only 17 days until Orioles pitchers and catchers report. I’m honestly thinking about breaking out the orange and black construction paper and making a countdown paper chain, but I diverge.
In somewhat of a more mature way to get excited about Feb. 18, let’s take a closer look at one of Baltimore’s core players, former first-round pick Matt Wieters. While his bat has been solid, what he is obviously most well-known for is his defense. In 2009, Wieters made his debut with high expectations in a longtime, suffering organization. Fans were excited for Wieters and what his appearance could mean: redemption. Although I, along with most everyone, can be an advocate for saying that one man does not make a baseball team, we do know this: Wieters has had a huge impact.
In 2009, he appeared in 96 games and put up the following numbers and hit .288. Although his numbers have fallen off in the last two seasons, Orioles fans will always realize the value of Wieters even if he was hitting .188.
Even more important than his bat: Wieters’ cannon for an arm. Last season, he had 70 assists, enough for fifth in all of the majors and for his first All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove.
This month and up until April, the 6 ft., 5 in., 225 lb. catcher has his work cut out for him as he gets used to a new pitching staff with multiple international names. Although these new pitchers mean more work for Wieters regarding communication, fans should be confident in his ability, especially after his flow with Koji Uehara last season.
“Getting to know all the guys that have a chance to make the club or be up at some point during the year, it’s going to be a lot of work and a lot of communication work on top of it,” Wieters said to Steve Melewski. “The great thing is that baseball is a universal language. Once you can get on the same page, sort of, you can use symbols and things like that to get going.”
And for Baltimore, the city should be pretty confident that Wieters will “get going” both calling a game and defensively. Despite a dismal season for the team in 2011, Wieters served as sort of silver lining, as Baltimore could at least stand behind Wieters, which in any baserunners’ opinion, a lot better than standing in front of him.
Wieters’ offensive numbers by year:
2009: .288 .340 .412
2010: .249 .319 .377
2011: .262 .328 .450
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