Wieters drives in 2 in Double-A debut

Orioles

June 29, 2008|By Todd Karpovich | Todd Karpovich,Special to The Sun

BOWIE -- Matt Wieters lined a double down the right-field line that scored two runs in his debut for Double-A Bowie last night against Altoona, showing the power and poise that have made him the crown jewel of the Orioles' farm system.

The catcher earned a promotion Friday from Single-A Frederick after batting .345 with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs in 69 games. In the first game of a doubleheader against the Curve, Wieters batted fifth, going 1-for-3, and no one attempted to steal a base on him in Bowie's 7-1 victory. He had two opposite-field singles in the second game before it was suspended in the third inning, with Bowie leading 4-3.

Expectations remain high for Wieters among club officials and fans who have endured 10 consecutive losing seasons with the Orioles. Wieters, however, contends his only concern right now is being an everyday player for Bowie.

"You can only live up to the pressure you put on yourself," said Wieters, who signed for a $6 million dollar bonus with the Orioles last year. "I set lofty goals for myself. And now I'm just glad to be around a good group of guys like we have here. I'm trying to play as many games as possible here. I'm always trying to get better. Hopefully, I can stay healthy."

Wieters, the fifth pick of the first round in the 2007 draft, dominated numerous offensive categories in the Carolina League before leaving the Keys. He was second in batting, first in home runs, first in on-base percentage (.448) and third in slugging percentage (.576).

The biggest adjustments for Wieters since turning pro out of Georgia Tech have been the grind of playing every day and the travel. He tries to rest more before games and plans to keep a rigorous workout schedule during the offseason.

"You're getting on a bus, driving six hours and then you're playing that night," Wieters said. "You have to get used to playing every day and getting your body in shape where you can play every day. Confidence is big, but it's really how you prepare in the offseason. I was able to be successful in Frederick and hopefully it will carry over here."

Baysox manager Brad Komminsk had not seen much of Wieters' play this season, so his expectations are tempered. He said it is difficult to predict how players adapt after they get promoted to a more advanced club in the minors.

"The speed of the game is a little quicker," said Komminsk, who played for the Orioles in 1990. "The pitching won't be any harder. Some guys will have better stuff. They can locate better. He'll have to adjust little bit. Some guys are better than others. Some guys struggle a little bit. It just depends."

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