(Updated: 2:10 p.m.)
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is in the midst of the best offensive start of his career, but concerning news that surfaced Tuesday caused many to fear his season might be in jeopardy.
The news was more encouraging a day later as multiple outlets reported the two-time Gold Glove catcher will not need surgery for his sore right elbow. Wieters visited renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday to have his elbow examined as the Orioles wanted to rule out the worst-case scenario of an ulnar collateral ligament tear, an injury that likely would have required Tommy John surgery.
Manager Buck Showalter confirmed that Wieters underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Monday. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the concern was with the flexor mass and not Wieters’ UCL.
“He’s been getting it treated for a while,” Showalter told reporters in St. Petersburg Tuesday night. “We just want to make sure we know what we’re dealing with. He’ll be back for the game. We just want to follow up. Hopefully he’s catching for us [on Wednesday].”
It appears that Wieters will serve as the club’s designated hitter at least in the short term as he rests an elbow that’s given him trouble over the first five weeks of the season. The 27-year-old was sidelined for a game with forearm soreness in Toronto two weeks ago and has thrown out just one of 12 runners trying to steal this season, a significant drop from his career rate of throwing out 33 percent of potential base stealers.
Triple-A Norfolk catcher Caleb Joseph was scratched from the Tides’ original lineup in Louisville on Tuesday, an indication that he would be joining the Orioles in St. Petersburg. Baltimore outrighted infielder David Adams to Double-A Bowie last weekend to create an open spot on the 40-man roster.
Wieters was in the lineup serving as the Orioles’ designated hitter in the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night. Even though it appears that Wieters will be avoiding a trip to the disabled list, it’s possible the Orioles will still purchase Joseph’s contract to serve as the backup catcher to Steve Clevenger for the time being.
Needless to say, the loss of Wieters behind the plate and in the lineup for any significant time would have been a devastating blow to the Orioles as he is batting .341 with five home runs and 18 runs batted in over 99 plate appearances.