Matt Wieters appears headed to disabled list (with quotes and game update)

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter said today it’s “unlikely” that catcher Matt Wieters will start the season on the 25-man roster.

Wieters is expected to be placed on the disabled list. He would be eligible to return on April 11.

Showalter said Wieters hasn’t experienced a setback and is on or ahead of schedule. However, the recovery from ligament-reconstructive surgery on an elbow normally is a 10-month process, and Wieters had the procedure on June 17.

matt_wieters-sidebar_close-up.jpgTeam orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs examined Wieters and consulted with Andrews.

Showalter said he doesn’t want Wieters, who’s being treated for tendinitis in his elbow, to feel as though he’s facing a deadline. Showalter also said he remains excited by Wieters’ recovery and the progress made in camp.

Wieters caught his only Grapefruit League game on Tuesday. X-rays on the elbow earlier this week came back clean.

Showalter said Wieters wouldn’t be used as the designated hitter to open the regular season because it wouldn’t help his rehabilitation.

Caleb Joseph likely would get the bulk of the starts behind the plate in Wieters’ absence. Showalter would have to choose a backup from a list of candidates that include in-house options Ryan Lavarnway, Steve Clevenger, J.P. Arencibia and Brian Ward, who’s in minor league camp.

More to come.

Also, pitcher Hunter Harvey was hit on the leg by a comebacker today in a minor league game in Fort Myers and will be checked by a doctor upon returning to Sarasota.

Update: Here are quotes from Showalter regarding Wieters and the likelihood that he begins the season on the disabled list:

“Dr. Jacobs is here and did look at Matt completely and I know he has been talking with Dr. Andrews, too, and I think the start of the season is unlikely.

“This is usually a 10-month (process) at least, especially with catchers. You’re hearing people go down with this and you’re talking 12 to 14 months. We’re on, if not ahead of schedule. A lot of people when it originally happened thought even May 1 was a push, so I think from Matt’s standpoint, I don’t want him to have some false deadline where someone would view it as (a setback).

“I’m excited about where we are with it. It is going to happen, it’s just a matter of when. I and we, in talking to Matt and the doctors, don’t want him to have some day-to-day (report) where someone says how does it feel today? How does it feel yesterday? Just take it in the increments that a surgery of this type needs. We like the reports we’re getting back on it. We like where it’s headed, but we want to make sure it’s completely dissolved itself and let him catch without any mental worries.”

Asked whether Wieters could be the designated hitter Wednesday, Showalter replied, “Not day-to-day increments. We’ll see where we are Wednesday.”

Showalter pretty much dismissed the possibility that Wieters could be the DH on opening day if unable to catch, “because (hitting) doesn’t help his rehab.”

“Who knows?” Showalter continued. “If he is not here for opening day, which we think is unlikely, how do we best get him really good? Does he stay down here, does he go with us? That’s the next step. We’ll kick around (with) Matt on that.”

As for today’s game, the Twins opened the bottom of the first inning with three straight singles off Miguel Gonzalez to load the bases with no outs, and a run scored on Torii Hunter’s double play grounder.

Jonathan Schoop walked with one out in the second and scored on Joseph’s double to right-center field. Paul Janish, making his first start at shortstop, followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Manny Machado lined to third, but Steve Pearce launched a three-run homer to left field to give the Orioles a 4-1 lead.

Pearce is 11-for-28 with a double, four home runs and eight RBIs this spring.

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