On his final day with the Orioles before returning to Sarasota for extended spring training, catcher Matt Wieters didn’t offer any indication Wednesday that his return to live-game action was imminent.
Currently on the 15-day disabled list due to right elbow tendinitis, the three-time All-Star selection told reporters in St. Petersburg that he began a throwing progression last week and is currently throwing every other day. Wieters was shut down less than 24 hours after making his catching debut in the Grapefruit League on March 17, exactly nine months after he underwent Tommy John surgery.
It remains unclear when Wieters will be ready to return, but he confirmed May 1 as a possibility when asked. The 28-year-old was 0-for-23 this spring while serving primarily as a designated hitter.
“We’re not really putting any kind of date out there, because it’s a matter of how it goes and how it feels,” Wieters told reporters before the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays. “I think it can turn the corner in the course of a couple of days or it can take longer. It’s a matter of letting it kind of all play out and whenever I feel like I can contribute to the team and help the team, then I’ll come back.”
Wieters is eligible to come off the DL as early as April 11, but his return wouldn’t appear to be close considering he’s not even throwing on consecutive days. After he was shut down three weeks ago, it’s become clear that the elbow tendinitis was a bigger concern than the organization initially indicated.
With the 2007 first-round pick sidelined, the Orioles are going with the combination of Caleb Joseph and former Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway to begin the 2015 season.
In other injury-related news, J.J. Hardy (left shoulder strain) is scheduled to take swings at Camden Yards on Thursday. The Orioles hope the shortstop can go on a minor-league rehab assignment early next week.
Outfielder David Lough (left hamstring strain) had four at-bats in an intrasquad game in Sarasota on Wednesday and is expected to play in a game on Thursday. Baltimore hopes he will be ready to go on a rehab assignment next week as well.
Hardy and Lough are both eligible to be activated from the DL as early as April 11.