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Wieters heads to DL with uncertain timetable

BALTIMORE -- On a day the Orioles got a boost of good news with the return of first baseman Chris Davis, they lost All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to the disabled list with no certainty regarding his return.

Wieters has been limited to playing designated hitter because of right elbow discomfort, and he will now get a few weeks of rest before the club re-evaluates and determines the next step.

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"We'll take a two- or three-week period to see if we can get it managed and then if he can catch the rest of the year. Or if he's still having problems with it at the six week mark, we will have to think about something else," manager Buck Showalter said of Wieters, who had his elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday. "That's as frank as I can be about it. That's where we are with it."

The organization is still hoping Wieters can avoid surgery with rest, with both the team's doctors and Andrews concurring that surgery isn't inevitable but it is a possibility if the discomfort can't be managed with rest and treatment.

"If you do the nine months, if he had to have the surgery, we are hoping he never has to and there's a chance it never has to happen. That's around six weeks and he's back for next year," Showalter said. "You are talking about roughly July 1."

So is July 1 the definitive date for when Wieters and the Orioles make a decision on his season?

"I'm not going to commit to that," Showalter said. "Frankly, you are talking about surgery. Maybe he says [on July 1], 'Hey, we are real close, let's stay down this road.' But it's not like you are going out and testing it every day. There will be a two-week period before he throws. And then we will have a better idea what we are dealing with after that period."

"Ultimately, it was what's going to get me back catching as quick as possible," Wieters said. "And we just kind of felt [it'd be best to let] it completely rest as opposed to try and get through swings and kind of get half-ready every day. It may have actually been slowing us down a little bit to where we'll now let it completely rest and, hopefully, be able to get back to catching even sooner."

Wieters first felt the injury in his forearm on a throw down to second base during a cold April night game in Boston. The Gold Glove Award winner missed one game the following series in Toronto before returning to the lineup, but when the injury moved its way to his elbow, Wieters got concerned and underwent an MRI during Monday's off-day in St. Petersburg.

After visiting with Andrews, Wieters was not deemed a candidate for surgery, and he was given the go-ahead to DH and otherwise just rest the area hoping it would calm down.

Did hitting make it worse?

"No, it just turned into more, 'Are we kind of starting again at ground zero every day we come back if I keep swinging every day?'" Wieters said. "I want to make sure that we can make progress and continue to improve on it."

Added Showalter: "Let's give it the best chance to heal properly. I can't say that [it didn't hurt] 100 percent. He wakes up in the morning and feels it there. The one thing that really bothers him doing now is throwing. It's not some acute pain.

"He just knows it's not like it can and should be to catch at the Major League level. To get it back where it's not something he has to think about, we have to give it the best chance to heal properly and make a good decision for this year and beyond."

Without Wieters, who would be eligible to come off the DL on May 26 at the earliest, the club has employed Steve Clevenger -- who won the backup job this spring -- and 28-year-old rookie Caleb Joseph. Given the uncertainty around Wieters' return, the Orioles are also actively looking outside of the organization for other options.

"Certainly [executive vice president of baseball operation Dan Duquette] is looking at that," Showalter said. "I'd be less than honest if I told you we haven't looked at some options, but we hope we don't have to go there.

"I'm hoping it's 15 [days] exactly. That's the best-case scenario. I'm not closing the door on that."

Wieters will stay with the Orioles and travel with the team for the time being, helping Clevenger and Joseph -- who both have limited catching experience -- learn the ropes.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli.

Baltimore Orioles, Matt Wieters