Matt Wieters caught Adam Jones’ throw in the sixth inning last night, made a sweeping tag of Oakland’s Ryan Sweeney for the final out, grimaced and bent at the waist.
Wieters straightened up, took a few steps and bent at the waist again.
This would have been a good time for fans to slip into panic mode.
Wieters isn’t tearing the cover off the ball, but the Orioles don’t need him tearing a muscle or ligament.
Head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and manager Dave Trembley bolted from the dugout. Bancells slipped his hand inside Wieters’ left sleeve and checked behind the young catcher’s shoulder.
A miserable season threatened to take another sharp turn toward hell, but Wieters hit in the bottom of the inning and caught reliever Frank Mata in the seventh.
“It was sort of an awkward angle to make a tag and sort of grabbed on me when I reached to tag him,” Wieters told reporters afterward. “My shoulder kind of grabbed on me a little bit. We came back in and checked the strength and the range of movement and it was fine, and swinging the bat was fine.
“It was a little bit of a freak thing, but once you came in and make sure you can swing and catch, then you are fine.”
Not everything is fine with Wieters. His play behind the plate has been solid, but a 6-for-37 slump in his last 11 games has dropped his average to a season-low .253. He has no home runs and two RBIs in that stretch. He’s also struck out nine times.
Wieters tends to jump at the first pitch, no matter the location or game situation. That swing looks long at times. I expected a lot more power out of him, but scouts always tell you it’s the last tool to mature in a young player. (In Wieters’ case, I’m pretty sure it’ll come before speed.)
His leash is long.
Wieters is scuffling, but he does have his health. And on this team, that can’t be taken for granted.
Accept the small victories when they come. There haven’t been many others to celebrate.