Making it look easy

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Wieters, batting .429, hits his first spring home run

March 02, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

VIERA, Fla. -Catcher Matt Wieters has a way of making things look effortless, and his first Grapefruit League home run was no different.

Hitting left-handed against Washington Nationals right-hander Garrett Mock in the sixth inning, Wieters appeared to do little more than flick his wrists, sending a drive over the left-field wall at Space Coast Stadium for a two-run home run.

Wieters, the switch-hitting catcher who was recently named Baseball America's top prospect, went 2-for-3 in the Orioles' 7-5 victory over the Nationals yesterday. He is hitting .429 this spring and is well on his way to forcing the Orioles' front office to make a tough decision on where he'll start the season.

"It felt pretty good," said Wieters, who lined out to right field in the second inning and singled in the fourth. "With the winds gusting out like that, you pretty much knew right away. But at the saw time, it felt good to hit something solid."

Wieters acknowledged after the game that he feels far more comfortable this spring than he did last year in his first major league spring training.

"You're expecting the big league pitchers to come in with strikes," Wieters said. "Last year, I was being a little too aggressive. This year, I'm trying to be more patient at the plate and hopefully get your pitch you want to hit."

Holtz stops by

Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz stopped by the visiting clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium yesterday to give the Orioles a 15-minute pre-game pep talk. Orioles manager Dave Trembley, who is a die-hard Fighting Irish fan, became good friends with Holtz in 1997 when Trembley was managing in Orlando in the Double-A Southern League and Holtz lived nearby.

Discomfort for Spoone

Highly regarded pitching prospect Chorye Spoone (Northeast) has experienced discomfort in his surgically repaired shoulder, but minor league director David Stockstill said the situation hasn't affected his timetable for a return.

"If all goes well, he'll be pitching in June," Stockstill said.

Who is hitting second?

Trembley has batted Cesar Izturis second this spring, but that doesn't mean that's where the new shortstop will hit when the season begins. Trembley said he hit Izturis there just to make sure he got enough at-bats before leaving the club to join the Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team.

Though he's far from settling on an Opening Day lineup, Trembley said he sees Izturis as a "second leadoff guy" and could hit him second or ninth. That decision could depend largely on how Adam Jones and Felix Pie are performing because Trembley sees both as potential No. 2 hitters this year.

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