Wieters makes sure to catch for O's in finale
Backstop headed for free agency after spending entire career with Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- A few weeks ago, Matt Wieters looked at the Orioles' schedule and made sure he planned appropriately. It was important for the backstop, who was drafted by the club and has spent the past seven seasons in the Major Leagues with the O's, to catch the season finale as he embarks on free agency this winter.
"No matter what happened the last few weeks, I was going to do whatever I had to to catch today and play, hopefully not, but maybe the last game on the home side," said Wieters, who hit a two-run single in his first at-bat Sunday afternoon against the Yankees to give Baltimore a 2-0 lead during the O's 9-4 win.
"Everywhere I've turned I've had a great memory or a great feeling about what I've gone through. After the game today it's going to be sad, it's going to be emotional, but at the same time I want to remember all the good times that I did have here."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Wieters, who returned in June following last year's season-ending Tommy John surgery, progressed better than he could have hoped this season.
"If you go back through the history of these injuries, Matt has done as well -- if not better -- than you could've expected. I have a lot of confidence he's going to be back catching 120, 130 games next year. If he wants to," Showalter said. "I think he's been very -- he's pushed it to the point where he didn't put it in jeopardy or put us in jeopardy from a competition standpoint. I would have signed up for what we got out of Matt this year when we were originally going to do the surgery. He's such a contributor in the locker room and the dugout. To understand the full text of what he brings, it takes a lot more than analytics."
Wieters, who remained with the team last year while he rehabbed, is looking forward to having a normal offseason and acknowledged questions about his health are normal for any free agent. Whether Baltimore will be one of the teams asking remains to be seen.
"I won't know until I go through the process," Wieters said of the potential for a hometown discount for the O's. "I'll do a lot of prayer, and hopefully God will lead me to where he wants me to be and then I know that will be the right [choice].
"On top of that, there is nothing but fond memories that I have from my time here in Baltimore. I love this city and I love this team and I love this clubhouse more than anything."