Wieters turns it up


Living up to his billing, prospect delivers in clutch

March 08, 2009|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

JUPITER, Fla. -The Orioles appeared to be headed for a garden-variety exhibition loss yesterday when top prospect Matt Wieters arrived at the plate with two outs and a runner at second base in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Wieters came into the game hitting .429 with three doubles and a home run in six exhibition appearances. He is living up to every bit of his billing as Baseball America's top prospect. But it was an exhibition game, and so the in-game strategy is not quite the same as it would be during the regular season.

It was an obvious intentional walk situation, but Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez had reliever Leo Nunez pitch to Wieters, who fell behind on the count and then singled up the middle to tie the score and send it into extra innings.

"I told him right there, in that situation, if they pitch to you, you have to make them pay for it," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "The great ones turn it up a notch. They live for those moments."

Still looking

President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said the club has had internal discussions about free-agent pitcher Pedro Martinez but he does not think signing Martinez is a likely option.

Martinez pitched for the Dominican Republic team against the Orioles in the World Baseball Classic exhibition game and impressed the Orioles with the way he has adapted to his diminished velocity and the way he pitches with runners on base, but MacPhail reports no attempt to contact his agent.

Ray's rehab

Reliever Chris Ray has been raving about how good his reconstructed elbow feels, but he hasn't forgotten about his shoulder. One of the possible pitfalls in the recovery from any elbow injury is the possible impact of the rehabilitation on the shoulder, but Ray and the Orioles' training staff have been very careful to keep everything in balance.

"You can't ignore your shoulder," Ray said. "I'd say 60 percent of the rehab is cuff weights and strengthening my shoulder."

Koji and the WBC

Koji Uehara is enjoying the success of the Japanese team in the World Baseball Classic, but it's tough to stay in his routine and watch much of the action from Asia. The games are broadcast live overnight, so he didn't pick up today's game between Japan and Korea until the late innings.

By that time, there wasn't much suspense because Japan was on its way to an easy 14-2 victory, but Uehara said through his interpreter, Jiwon Bang, that he's "very excited" about the team's success so far. Japan also won its WBC opener, 4-0, over China.

Uehara played a big role with the Japanese team in the first WBC, going 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA but was not selected this year.

More Huff on Cabrera

Aubrey Huff had some fun at the expense of Daniel Cabrera on Friday, but he said yesterday morning that he's rooting heavily for Cabrera to pull things together this season with the Washington Nationals.

"It's really up to him," Huff said. "All he really has to do is throw strikes with his stuff. I was just trying to stay alive up there in the first inning. He's a very difficult pitcher with two strikes."

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