Tuesday, February 17, 2009
If the constant hype that surrounds Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is beginning to wear him down, he isn't allowing it to show. He's blocking each distraction as if it's another curveball in the dirt.
Wieters reported to camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., yesterday with bags in hand and the weighty expectations that come from being named the 2008 minor league player of the year by Baseball America. He's the can't-miss prospect whom scouts drool over, but all he cares about is blending into the Orioles' clubhouse and doing his job.
"I think you take it as a compliment, but you've got to have expectations that are even going to exceed those and you've got to work hard so you can meet them," he said.
The Orioles made Wieters the fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Georgia Tech. In turn, Wieters has made them look awfully good. The switch-hitting catcher batted .345 with 15 homers and 40 RBI at Class A Frederick, and .365 with 12 homers and 51 RBI at Class AA Bowie. He also showed off a strong arm and skills behind the plate.
"There's always more you wish that you had done and you're always going to expect more, but last year was a good year," he said. "Most importantly, I stayed healthy the whole year and was able to get a full season in."
· YANKEES: Alex Rodriguez will have a thick wall of teammates looking on today when he meets the media following his admission that he used banned drugs.
The Yankees still didn't know how many specifics of his drug use Rodriguez planned to divulge.
"I don't think it's necessary in my eyes that he answer every detail," Manager Joe Girardi said.
The image-conscious Rodriguez appears to be formulating his strategy surrounded by an entourage large enough to fill a television series.
Those also expected to be nearby include agent Scott Boras and his staff, agent Guy Oseary and the William Morris Agency. Rodriguez also has retained attorney James E. Sharp and has brought in Outside Eyes, a media strategy and crisis management company.
· CARDINALS: St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols says he will not play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic because of insurance issues. He played for the Dominican team in 2006.
· ASTROS: Left-hander Mike Hampton is returning to Houston to receive treatment for an irregular heartbeat. Hampton was to be examined by team physician Jim Muntz and will undergo a procedure that corrects his heartbeat with an electrical current.
· PADRES: Greg Maddux, who retired in December after winning 355 games and 18 Gold Gloves during a 23-year career, has agreed to become a spring training instructor for San Diego. He's scheduled to arrive in camp tomorrow.