He’s catching and batting eighth Monday night for the Nationals against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“It was a pretty good test right away, but also it gives me the confidence that it’s ready for tonight,” the 32-year-old Wieters said.
Wieters said he has been working to adjust his running form to reduce stress on his hamstrings and didn’t feel any discomfort on the base paths during his rehab assignment. But Wieters won’t be counted on for his running ability. He is, above all, a steadying presence behind the plate for a pitching staff that could use one.
Severino got the bulk of the playing time during Wieters’s absence, but the Nationals chose to keep Spencer Kieboom when they needed to clear space. Manager Dave Martinez mentioned a factor in the decision was that the Nationals would rather have Severino play every day. But the 24-year-old occasionally struggled handling the pitching staff and batted .171 with a .510 OPS in 63 games. Without Wieters, the Nationals had the worst offensive production in baseball from their catchers.
“I didn’t bat well enough,” Severino said in Spanish. “I know that. They had a decision to make and they made it. I just got to keep working.”
Said Martinez: “We talk a lot with him about forget about hitting home runs and move the ball. Whether it’s stay on the ball and hit the ball the other way. Just try to move the ball. Be more of a situational hitter. So I know he’s going to down there and work on putting the ball in play and moving the ball.”
While Wieters was well below replacement level last season, he represents a significant upgrade for the Nationals as they push to finish the first half on a strong note with their seven-game road trip heading into the all-star break. The veteran was batting .231 with a .727 OPS in 23 games before the injury.
“He led our pitching staff,” Martinez said. “And Sevy did a great job. He really did. For being a young catcher and stepping in he did a wonderful job. But having a veteran guy back like Wieters to handle the staff is pretty good.”
— Stephen Strasburg will make his rehab start with Class A Potomac in Lynchburg, Va., Martinez announced Monday. It will Strasburg’s first start in a live game since he landed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation on June 10. Strasburg threw 50 pitches in a simulated game Friday and emerged without a problem.
— Ryan Zimmerman traveled with the Nationals on their road trip, where he is slated to work out in front of the club’s training staff before possibly going on a rehab assignment. Martinez said the club hopes to have the first back after the all-star break. Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list May 12 with a strained oblique.
Trea Turner SS
Juan Soto LF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Bryce Harper CF
Matt Adams 1B
Daniel Murphy 2B
Adam Eaton RF
Matt Wieters C
Jefry Rodriguez P
Corey Dickerson LF
Starling Marte CF
Gregory Polanco RF
Colin Moran 3B
David Freese 1B
Josh Harrison 2B
Max Moroff SS
Ivan Nova P