ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner. He’s regarded as one of the best gamecallers in the game.
But he’s not known for his speed.
However, in Saturday night’s 4-0 win over the Rays, Wieters stole second twice, the first time an Orioles catcher has tallied two stolen bases in one game since the Nixon administration.
He entered the night with two stolen bases --- in his entire four-year career.
But the Orioles found they could exploit Rays right hander Jeremy Hellickson’s deliberate time to the plate. Neither one of Wieters’ steals drew a throw. Both times, it looked like Wieters caught the Rays by surprise.
“The first one was a delayed steal,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “The second one was Hellickson gets real slow on non-runners. We knew that coming in.”
With the two steals, Wieters became tied the Orioles team record for stolen bases by a catcher in a game, accomplished five previous times, most recently by Johnny Oates on June 10, 1972.
Wieters said Showalter gave him a green light to steal.
"Buck gives all of us the green light pretty much, that if we feel like we can get it, go ahead and get it,” Wieters said. “I had a couple times where I thought I could get there, so I went."
After stealing second off Hellickson in the third, Wieters got a little greedy. He tried to score from second on Wilson Betemit’s two-out single to right, but right fielder Sam Fuld threw the lumbering Wieters out at the plate by two steps.
But after a 4-0 win, the Orioles – Wieters specifically -- could joke about his sudden burst of speed.
“He’s playing it up pretty good right now,” Showalter deadpanned. “He’s got some people trailing him right now. He’s telling them to read the box score tomorrow, that there will be two next to his name. Pretty proud of him. He said it messed him up because he had to try to score on that single. If he stayed, he wouldn’t have had that problem.”
Asked if Wieters was gassed on the scoring attempt, he said, "No, I'm just not that fast.”
“Baseball players may not be the best athletes in the world, but we can run 270 feet and still be OK."