WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Wieters always considered the Nationals as a good fit for him.It was the National League team he knew best and he would be able to remain close to Baltimore, a city where he had grown comfortable. Even though one of the Nats' first moves
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Wieters always considered the Nationals as a good fit for him.
It was the National League team he knew best and he would be able to remain close to Baltimore, a city where he had grown comfortable. Even though one of the Nats' first moves this offseason was to trade for catcher Derek Norris, Wieters still thought of Washington as one of his potential landing spots.
Still, after spending the first eight seasons of his career with the Orioles, Wieters admitted it was a little different walking into the Nationals' clubhouse on Friday morning, when the team officially announced the signing.
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"It's something in baseball that's always crazy like that," Wieters said at his introductory press conference. "You never know where it'll be a fit ... Once we were able to finally start to getting into talking with teams, Washington came back as kind of a team that was interested and thought I could help them. I thought it was a good fit for me, as always."
The Nats had been the speculated landing spot for Wieters for virtually the entire offseason, even as they stood by Norris as their starting catcher. But eventually his price became something the Nationals could not afford to pass up.
"We touched base early in the winter, like we do with a lot of free agents, we had limited interest at the time, at that level," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "It kind of went dormant for several weeks until we circled back and saw what their interest level is and what we're looking at with years and numbers and that kind of thing. And when we did that, we had some mutual interest."
Wieters said he was not surprised he remained a free agent so long, even as his offseason lingered into February, about a week after most teams started Spring Training. He saw the slow-developing market for numerous other free agent sluggers and was especially prepared for a long process after injuring his left wrist when a five-gallon glass water jug shattered while he was trying to put it into his garage.
That injury prevented him from doing baseball activity for 10 weeks, and Wieters considered himself fortunate that he avoided any nerve or artery damage, although it put him about two or three weeks behind his normal schedule.
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"Right from the get-go they said, 'You're very lucky where this injury was that it's not worse'," Wieters said.
It made Wieters even more excited to get started with the Nationals on Friday, where he participated in a team workout for the first time. Wieters predicted he might take a week before he is ready to play in Grapefruit League games.
And even though he is coming in late, he still should have enough time to learn a new pitching staff.
"As a catcher, I'd love to have as much as possible," he said. "But at the same time, with the staff here and the starting staff here, these guys have been doing it for a while. They have the pedigree. They know what they're doing. Being able to kind of just listen to them and hear from them on how they like to pitch will help me out a lot."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.