User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Orioles C Wieters relishing leadership role

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - The meeting came about a week into Buck Showalter's tenure as Baltimore Orioles manager.

Advertisement
Tasked with turning around the once-proud franchise with two months left in the 2010 season, Showalter pulled the team's franchise player aside and suggested it was time to ``take the gloves off'' and take control a little bit.

The thing is, Matt Wieters already had the reins firmly in his hands.

Heralded as a savior from the second he was taken in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft, Wieters knew if the Orioles were going to compete for the playoffs, he needed to set the tone. All he's done in his three-plus seasons in the majors is become the stoic cornerstone for one of baseball's most promising teams.

Baltimore made it to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

The ``can't miss'' kid hasn't.

And while he just laughs when asked whether he feels like the old guy in the clubhouse at the still tender age of 26, there's little doubt Wieters has grown into the clubhouse leader. Even if he does it with a polite smile and measured words.

``His words carry a lot of weight,'' Showalter said. ``He's a guy that his teammates want to please.''

Even if Wieters simply thinks he's doing his job. As the one calling the games and hitting in the middle of a potent lineup, Wieters understands he needs to speak his mind even when the words might hurt a little bit.

``When something needs to be said (the catcher) is going to have to be the one to say it,'' the two-time All-Star said.

Don't let the still babyish face fool you. When things aren't going well on the mound, Wieters will let the pitcher know. He just won't do it in front of the whole world. Wieters has made a habit of pulling a pitcher aside between innings in the walkway behind the dugout.

That sense of privacy was invaded during the AL playoffs, when a TV camera was mounted in the hallway. Funny thing is, the camera was mysteriously turned around - Showalter insists he doesn't know how - so Wieters could do his thing.

Perhaps the most notable aspect to Showalter is Wieters' manner. The catcher doesn't make it personal. And he doesn't tell the pitcher one thing and the coaches another.

``He doesn't say something to (bench coach) John (Russell) or I that he's not going to say to the player,'' Showalter said. ``It's very seldom. He picks his spots. It's not like he's going to talk to us and not talk to them. Sometimes he talks to them before he talks to us.''

Wieters handles Baltimore's pitching the staff the way he'd want to be handled himself. Though he's been pegged for stardom for years, he never acted like anything more than one of the gang.

Pitcher Brian Matusz came up through the minors with Wieters, and hardly notices a change between the guy hanging out at the edge of the clubhouse now and the fresh-faced kid he met in the Arizona Fall League in 2008.

``I thought right away `this guy is a big league catcher,''' Matusz said. ``He's so smart back there behind the plate and knowledgeable of the game. He's always learning, picking up new things.''

Even coming off a season in which he won his first Gold Glove, Wieters is intent on improving. Asked by Showalter what he'd like to work on during spring training, Wieters rattled off a handful of items on his `to-do' list.

Showalter prefers to toss the list entirely and let Wieters progress at his own rate.

``I wouldn't put limitations on him, `Well this is what I want him to do and this is what the limit is,''' Showalter said.

Maybe because Wieters has stopped astonishing his manager. Consider it a mark of respect and maybe just a little bit of awe.

``I've found he doesn't surprise me anymore,'' Showalter said. ``I just go `Oh, really, that's Matt.'''

When a weakness does appear, Wieters attacks it relentlessly. There were periods where the switch-hitting catcher struggled hitting right-handed. So Showalter stocked spring training with every left-handed pitcher he could. Wieters hit .323 against lefties last season.

Things weren't quite so great on the left side, where Wieters hit just .224. Still, he managed to be productive thanks to his discipline. Showalter made it a point to mention Wieters led Baltimore in getting runners home from third with less than two outs, a sign he is adept at situational hitting.

Then again, Wieters is accomplished at a lot of things.

``He's a threat from both sides,'' Showalter said. ``I don't feel bad about somebody turning him around either way. Especially when the game is on the line. He likes being in that situation.''

Even when it doesn't turn out the way Wieters wants. As fun as Baltimore's ride to a wild-card spot was last fall, it also made the end that much more difficult.

Wieters made the last out of the season, a soft grounder to back to New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia in Game 5 of the division series. Wieters quickly trotted back to the dugout, packed up and bolted for the clubhouse. No reason to watch the celebration.

``You sit there and think, `All right, it's over now,''' Wieters said. ``We'll just keep those feelings of disappointment and use it to drive us to get better and take the next step.''

---

Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Lawrence: August Pitchers Report
Rose: Who's Hot - NL Edition
Twins' Mauer, Nolasco set for rehab stints
Astros promote prospect Foltynewicz
Indians designate Zach McAllister
Angels put left-hander Skaggs on DL
Giants designate 2B Uggla, OF Colvin
MLB: Reds-Marlins call was right
Cards add Lackey, Masterson to roster
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
MLB Pro Baseball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
MLB Hot Streaks
8-4 L2 Days, 20-8 G-Plays, +8,353
7-0 L7 Guarantees, 16-6 L22 Picks
5-1 +474 Run, +2,443 This Year
7-3 L4 Days, 28-15 +1,647 L43
17-5 L22 Totals, +2,199 This Year
5-1, +510 L6 Guarantees
18-10 +885 L28, +2,540 TY
18-8 L26 Guarantees, +1,848 TY
6-2 L3 Days, +2,144 Totals TY
7-4 L11 Totals, +2,095 TY
4 Straight Guaranteed Wins
27-15 Last 42 Selections
3-0 +327 Yesterday, +2,447 TY
MLB Pro Baseball Expert Sports Picks - Antony Dinero
2014 MLB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 8353
John Fisher + 2540
The Gold Sheet + 2447
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 3259
James Manos + 2664
Dave Cokin + 1776
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 2349
Matt Zylbert + 2144
Tony Stoffo + 1302
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Doc's Sports + 1337
Dave Cokin + 1323
Kyle Hunter + 1076
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 3989
Doc's Sports + 1607
Kevin Rogers + 1364
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mike Rose + 2292
The Gold Sheet + 1157
Dave Cokin + 920
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!