Wieters Influences

Matt Wieters grew up in South Carolina where Atlanta Braves games were broadcast on television. He told me he was already switch hitting when Chipper Jones became popular with Atlanta in the mid 90's, but watching Jones inspired him to focus on becoming good at hitting from both sides of the plate.

Jones wasn't Wieters' only influence. The rookie told me a while ago that he and his dad would watch the Braves great pitchers of that time period on TV and call the pitches they were throwing. That's a pretty good way to learn pitchers---from watching the best.

I guess you could say Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz all contributed to the vast knowledge of pitching Wieters brings to the Orioles today. He must have gotten a kick out of facing Smoltz on the mound at The Yard Tuesday night.

When it came to catchers, Wieters told me his favorite was Pudge Rodriguez. Why? "Because he had a cannon for an arm, and hit for average," said Wieters. Those are good things to have.

One of the reasons the Orioles top draft pick chose to attend Georgia Tech for college was because he was a big fan of the 1994 Georgia Tech team that went to the College World Series that year and lost to Oklahoma. More importantly he liked the players on that team---Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, and Jay Payton. It was loaded with future big leaguers.

I'm sure Wieters refrained from telling Varitek how much he loved him when he was eight years old as the O's welcomed the Red Sox to town this week.