MIAMI - Matt Wieters has a locker set up in the Orioles’ clubhouse and will begin working out on Saturday with bench coach and catching instructor John Russell. Wieters will make throws, catch a few bullpen sessions and take batting practice in preparation for the start of his injury rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Bowie.
Wieters said it’s still a realistic goal to come off the 60-day disabled list when eligible on June 4.
“I think so,” he said. “I feel pretty good to play. The last few games I’ve gone out there and played, the feelings of being able to get back in a big league game are there. It’s not quite back to where it was yet, but it feels good enough to get back playing at this level.”
Wieters said his arm is geting stronger each day, “and the day in between, the day off, has been big, to still get the rest and recover. But each day that I do play, every other day, I feel like it gets a little stronger each time.”
Wieters still isn’t catching in consecutive games.
“It’d be more, let the arm tell me when,” he said. “The thing is, catching every other day you can still catch three days a week. When we’ve tried to push that back-to-back, we’ve had to take a few more days off after that than we want to. I think if we let the arm just tell us, ‘OK, let’s try throwing today,’ then it will be a progression from there.”
The primary goal in Miami is to stay on his regular routine.
“It won’t be catching in a game, obviously, but I’ll throw tomorrow because it will be my throw day,” said Wieters, whose only start behind the plate in spring training came on March 17. “Do my hitting, catch some bullpens while I’m here and try to get back familiar with these guys.”
Wieters said he’ll play every other day at Bowie, a schedule that will allow him to come back to Baltimore.
“I think the plan is Bowie is at home next week, so I think I’ll play there every other day and I’ll actually get to come back and watch the games at Camden on the days I’m not playing. So I think that’s the plan for now,” he said.
It’s evident that Wieters misses his teammates.
“It’s tough, but like I said, Caleb (Joseph) has been doing a great job,” Wieters said. “Been able to watch what he’s doing behind the plate. And on top of that, my arm will let me know when I’m ready and it feels good now. It feels like, OK now we can really think about getting back into some games.”
Wieters hasn’t caught in a regular season game since May 4, 2014 and he hasn’t played in one since serving as the designated hitter on May 10. He underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow on June 17.
Asked whether he’s been unleashing throws at extended spring training, Wieters replied, “Yeah. Really the last week or two weeks has really been, ‘OK, I can cut it loose and it will be good to go.’ It’s not cut it loose like it was before, but it’s cut it loose as far as mentally I can let it go.
“I’ve been accurate. Been able to hit the bag most times.”
Wieters has been swinging a bat daily without any discomfort in his elbow.
“There’s no feeling of any kind of doubt with it when I’m swinging. And really, throwing there’s no doubt,” he said. “It’s just a matter of when I do throw I do need to take a little bit of time off the next day to feel good the (next) day.”
Cabrera batted .208/.240/.250 (5-for-24) with a double, RBI and three runs scored in six games with the Tides. He was placed on the disabled list May 7 with a left foot contusion.
“It’s perfect now,” he said.
“Super excited. I’m happy to be back with my team and I’m here to play baseball again and compete every single day.”
He needs to heat up at the plate, having gone hitless in his last 17 at-bats and 5-for-37 in 11 games.
“Actually, it was kind of a good moment that happened,” Cabrera said of his stint on the disabled list. “Taking those 15 days, I was kind of struggling a little bit at the plate. And take those couple games over there to calm down a little bit, just relax more and see things. I feel really good to play the game.”
Navarro batted .276/.276/.448 (8-for-29) with a home run, two doubles, three RBIs and five runs scored in 10 games with the Orioles. He knew a roster move was coming and he’d likely be sent down.
“I wasn’t concerned about that,” he said. “I know that they have other guys, you know? And I’m OK. I’ll just go back down and play hard every day.
“I think I opened a lot of eyes here. It’s just a matter of time and keep working hard.”
Navarro is one of the few players on the roster with options, so he’s always a candidate to ride the shuttle back and forth.
“It’s business. That’s baseball,” he said. “I take it like a mature person. I just love to play baseball anywhere. I want to be here every day, but it’s just a matter of time, like I said, and I’ll be ready for it.”
Navarro wasn’t available on Sunday after having dental work.
“They got my tooth out and I was feeling a lot of pain last night and this morning, but I’m OK,” he said. “I’m kind of weak because I can’t eat hard stuff, but I’m good.”
Navarro expects to join the Tides on Sunday, where he vows to work on “everything.”
“Defense, my running game, hitting,” he said. “As a player, you learn something different every day. It’s a hard game, so you have to try to learn everything every day.”
For the Marlins
Dee Gordon 2B
Marcell Ozuna CF
Giancarlo Stanton RF
Martin Prado 3B
Justin Bour 1B
J.T. Realmuto C
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Adeiny Hechavarria SS
Henderson Alvarez RHP