No knock at all on Taylor Teagarden, who has done a nice job defensively for the Orioles, but when Steve Johnson makes his first big league start tonight, the Orioles will have Matt Wieters back there catching him.
Wieters has caught Johnson just once before and he said that was in a spring training game. But Wieters said he’ll try to do what he can to help Johnson handle any nerves he might have.
“Absolutely,” Wieters said. “You just go out there and tell him it’s the same game, just a different level. Just go out there and make your pitches. Whether you’re making good pitches at Triple-A or the big leagues, it’s just about making quality pitches.
“Just watching him from the side he looks like he’s going to be a guy that can locate his fastball and mix in his offspeed. I’ll get to know him a little better in the bullpen and go from there.
“I’ll ask him what he likes to go to in certain situations and just get a feel for what pitches he has the most confidence in. And then, it’s just reading it and getting him ready to throw strikes and let the defense work behind him.
“It’s the same thing that a catcher would do for anybody. You try to read swings and make suggestions and if the pitcher feels comfortable and confident with that pitch, it’s the right pitch.”
Manager Buck Showalter said Wieters wanted to be the guy behind the plate tonight to help the rookie.
“Yeah, it was important to Matt to be there,” Showalter said. “You don’t talk to a guy like that last night, because he’s still got the adrenaline going. I think he and I were the last to leave, he was in the cold tub down there.
“It’s important to him. It’s no knock on Taylor, it’s just Matt wants to bring what’s needed. I hope that is, especially knowledge of the hitters. He’s facing eight left-handed hitters tonight. That’s what you get up here. It’s a big jump, but I think Steve has a chance to handle it.”
It’s no surprise that Wieters wanted to catch tonight and, even after catching 14 innings last night, you can’t get the guy to admit that the extra-inning game probably wore on him a bit physically.
“I’m good,” he said. “At least it’s a night game tonight, so I got a little extra rest. Feeling good, ready to go.”
Johnson went 4-8 with a 2.86 ERA at Triple-A and gave up just 66 hits over 91 1/3 innings with 31 walks and 86 strikeouts. Opponents hit just .202 against him.
He made his big league debut allowing one run over two innings here at Camden Yards on July 15 against Detroit.
Wieters said it’s exciting for him to see a young guy get this chance.
“Oh yeah. He’s been up and down a few times but to get his first chance to start, I’m sure there will be some adrenaline going. But this is what every kid works for, to get to this level and be able to pitch well at this level.”