Baltimore giddy for Wieters show
Heralded backstop makes O's debut amid much fanfare
BALTIMORE -- A simple walk down the Camden Yards foul line told Dave Trembley all he needed to know about his evening. Baltimore's manager saw a jubilant crowd greet rookie Matt Wieters on Friday night, and he said that he could tell that his organization was moving into a brand new stage.
For one night, the anticipation was over, yielding to a city's everyday appreciation for a highly touted prospect. Wieters went 0-for-4 in his big league debut, a 7-2 Orioles victory, but he was treated to several standing ovations, including one that started when he approached the batter's box and didn't end until after he flied out to right field.
Wieters is finally with the Orioles, and his .000 batting average didn't deter his many admirers.
"At least we finally put it to bed tonight," said Trembley. "I go down the right-field line every night before the game and sign autographs for people. I get a lot of people, a lot of kids asking me, 'When's Wieters coming?' Now it's, 'Hey, can you get Wieters' autograph for me?' So we move on to the next page."
And in Wieters' case, on to the next interview. The former first-round draftee was a media darling on Friday, as he stood patiently for separate sessions with the local press. Wieters did double duty again after the game, when he spoke to the cast of ESPN's Baseball Tonight before meeting the media.
Everyone, it seemed, wanted to know the same thing: How does it feel to put your big league debut behind you?
"I don't know if I'm glad its over," Wieters said. "Your MLB debut is always a special day, but it's nice now to get into the season, and every game is another game now. ... Hopefully, they'll keep cheering me for a few more games."
Wieters won't have to worry about that. Fans seem to have grasped onto him as an element of hope. Wieters was cheered loudly during introductions and given rousing ovations virtually every time he stepped to the plate.
"A lot of energy in the ballpark tonight," said Trembley. "Good for our team, good for our fans, good for our city. You could really feel like you could see it. A lot of orange shirts. That was really neat to see."
Tellingly, Wieters used his sense of humor to deflect the immediate impact of all the attention.
"It's always great to hear that support," he said of his first evening. "And Luke [Scott] gets the home runs in front of me, so they were standing for a lot of my at-bats, but mostly for Luke."
Scott, who hit two home runs, had a different perspective, and one that jibed closer with reality.
"I've never seen anything like it. It was like a mob," said Scott, who has five home runs in his past three games. "My thoughts on that is I think it's too much pressure to put on the guy. Yes, he is a tremendous talent. He's very gifted, and he's going to be a great baseball player at the big league level. I think people should be OK to say that he's going to be a good player and not put too much hype on him. Let him play and let him be himself."
|A look at how other catchers did in their MLB debuts.|
|1988||Craig Biggio||0-for-2, one walk|
|1991||Ivan Rodriguez||1-for-4, two RBIs|
|1992||Mike Piazza||3-for-3, one walk|
|2004||Joe Mauer||2-for-3, two walks|
Wieters got that chance early Friday night, and he could thank his batterymate for some added comfort. Wieters was catching fellow rookie Brad Bergesen, whom he had worked with at both Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. Moments after the game began, Wieters got to come out of his crouch and field a short bunt.
Wieters easily made the play, which stood as his only assist of the day.
"The game is a beautiful thing," said Trembley. "Right out of the chute, they tested him. He made a very nice play. I'm sure glad he did that and didn't throw it down the right-field line, or it would have opened another can of worms."
The crowd rose as one before Wieters' first at-bat, and it stayed on its feet through the first three pitches. Wieters lined out to right field, and Melvin Mora was doubled up at third base on the play. Wieters went on to ground out twice and strike out before his night was over, hardly giving himself a night to remember.
True to form, though, Wieters took pride in Bergesen's success.
"I was very excited to be able to call a good game and get a win," Wieters said, "because I think that is something with a young catcher that you really want to see. Are they going to be able to help the pitcher get a win? I didn't have to do much with Bergesen today, but I was able to help him in any way I could for him to get that win."
It was hardly business as usual for the Orioles, but it was an industry they could grow accustomed to. Trembley even found himself joking about Wieters early in the game, only to be brought back in line by one of his players.
"When he came up with first-and-second early in the game, I said, 'You think he knows the bunt sign?'" joked Trembley. "And [Aubrey] Huff said some kind words to me as only Huff can do it, which I can't share here. This is a family hour. Something to the effect of, 'We'll be looking for a new manager tomorrow.'"
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.