ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed today that catcher Matt Wieters will undergo season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Here’s more from Showalter:
“With a catcher/position player you’re talking about nine months. I’m pretty sure that’s from being able to play in a major league game, as far as the regular season. We’re hopeful he’s ready to start the year next year.
“His facial (expressions), body language and talking to him, we were hoping to get real lucky today, but I think we all knew where it was headed. As much work as he and the trainers and everybody had put it really wasn’t making a whole lot of progress. He had one good day throwing and it was kind of encouraging and you could see it on his face day, but the next day he was back to being sore. And where he was having the soreness was pretty indicative of the UCL, so they take it from his right wrist and it keeps you from having to rehab two things, the left wrist, so that’s conventionally where they try to do it for a position player.”
On being ready for opening day
“I wouldn’t commit to that. Normally when we talk about injuries we put a time frame on it conventionally from what past history has shown. If that’s true, you’re talking about him being able to play in the spring in order to be ready to start the season. That’s what we’re hoping. If not, it’s not going to be if, it’s going to be when. Matt could be a little bit there after. I don’t know. Right now, I’m just working on the nine months. We’re actually getting a head start on it because July 1 was the day that we really had to do something, so we feel like we’re really getting a two-week head start on it.”
On Orioles hoping for the best
“That part of it, you try to prepare for, but I think we all had a pretty good indication, knowing Matt the way we know him, to where it was probably headed, but you always try to go down the other avenue as long as you can. But we reached the point where there wasn’t any... There’s been some cases in the past where some things scarred over and guys played another 10 years without having to have it, but I think we felt like with this, eventually he was going to have to have it. And when it didn’t get much better, we’d like to go ahead and take care of the problem. We’re fortunate that in today’s sports medical world, your risk factor is strong on his side and on our side.”
On how Wieters is handling the news
“Matty, the night before last, he kept kind of walking by my office and going in and out and he was one of the last guys to leave the locker room. I knew he and I were both going to have a little trouble with it. I just kind of walked out there to him and said, ‘Listen, neither one of us is very good at this, so I’ve got it. Good luck, stay in touch, hope things go well.’ He’s going back to Atlanta to start the rehab but we’ll see him shortly. He’s going to do a lot of his rehab out of Atlanta for a while, but we’ll see him many times this year, I’m sure. But his presence is always here. I feel real confident in the two guys we have here and the depth we have.”
On whether Wieters could have played this season and only hit
“Yes, and not have a catcher next year. The longer he put this off... And there’s some unknown about that. There was nothing pointing in that direction. Believe me, Matt would do whatever. If it was a matter of something that just required rest, Matt would have played through it. You guys saw kind of what was happening the last couple weeks he was playing. Some guys were stealing bases that had no shot before. So we knew it was affecting him. I know it was bothering him to not be able to play at the level he spoiled us with.”
On not having Wieters’ presence with the club
“I think his presence is still here. I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. The example he sets, the impact he’s had on the pitchers. Our guys are very confident. You can see by evidence that some of the best pitching we’ve done has been in the last 10 or 11 days. I think they’re starting to really gain some confidence in our two guys and the way they work at it and the confidence they have in them catching. Obviously, he was a really good defensive catcher who was an offensive force. That’s a hard combination to find.”
More on Wieters’ reaction
“I talked to Matt a couple times about it and it is what it is. We all get some challenges along the way that you hope don’t happen. Doing what he does, all these guys do every night, I never take it for granted. It’s hard and it can be fleeting. It’s one misstep on the bag. It’s a throw from the knees that may put added stress on something that the good Lord didn’t intend for us to do to our bodies. It’s hard because the body wears down and the only way the body has to tell you it’s too much is... Unfortunately, sometimes it’s too late. But things like this sort of happen anyway. Somebody said, ‘Do you think it was pitching in college?’ I don’t know. Could have been climbing a tree. Who knows? It’s not for us to question. What’s the old saying? If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. Same thing with us. We plan for the first inning tonight. Something could happen in BP. That’s why it’s all so fleeting.”