Wieters set to make Nationals debut

March 11th, 2017

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The wait is over. Newly-signed catcher Matt Wieters will finally make his Grapefruit League debut in the Nationals' lineup Sunday afternoon when they face the Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Since arriving at the Nationals camp in West Palm Beach on Feb. 24, Wieters has been hustling to get up to speed and familiarize himself with the pitching staff, through bullpen and live batting practice sessions. His Spring Training progress also was slightly slowed because of an offseason injury he incurred in November to his left wrist that kept him away from baseball activities for 10 weeks.

Now it's time to see the 30-year-old veteran switch-hitter in a live game in a Nationals uniform for the first time, after he spent the first eight years of his Major League career with the Orioles.

"I'm glad he's getting on the field so we can make an evaluation," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said of Wieters, who hit 17 homers with 66 RBIs last year for Baltimore. "I haven't seen him much. I know he's a smart man. We put him on an accelerated program to learn pitchers and the league."

Baker said prior to the Nationals' game Saturday against the Mets at First Data Field that Wieters likely will only play three or four innings Sunday. However, that should be a decent amount of action, enough to get a better feel for how he's progressing at this point of camp.

"How he responds is going to have an effect on the other catchers that we have. because right now we have too many catchers, if there is such a thing," Baker said.

Wieters recently said that he likely will need to catch seven to nine games and have at least 20 at-bats from each side of the plate for him to feel ready for the start of the season.