05/20/12 1:40 PM ET
Despite struggles, Wieters invaluable to O's
By Ben Standig / Special to MLB.com
At the plate with a bat in his hand, the Baltimore catcher has been struggling. Hitless in 18 straight plate appearances entering Sunday's finale with the Nationals, Wieters was 4-for-40 over his last 10 games with one home run and two RBIs.
However, behind the plate with a glove and the tools of the trade, the Gold Glove backstop's excellence continues. Wieters leads all qualified American League catchers with a caught-stealing rate of 37 percent. Against the Nats on Friday, he threw out two of three runners in Baltimore's 2-1, 11-inning win.
"Separating [offense and defense] is always something that makes it maybe a little easier for the catcher, because you have to be able to focus on your defense and your offense differently," Wieters said. "You can't take anything you do at the plate behind the plate."
Wieters efforts also shine through via his handling of the Orioles' pitching staff. Entering Sunday, Baltimore boasted a 3.37 ERA, second in the AL behind the Texas Rangers.
"Anytime you can help the team win a game -- whether it's up at the plate or behind -- it's what you're playing for," Wieters said. "You're not playing for numbers; you're playing to get wins. Especially this year, it's more important than anything to get this pitching going like we know we can this year."
After working the first two games of the series, Wieters was out of the lineup Sunday. Luis Exposito got the start behind the plate for left-hander Wei-Yin Chen.
The Orioles own the best record in the AL and are currently riding a five-game winning streak. That type of stat makes it easier for Wieters to swallow the current offensive slump.
"It's just one of those stretches, I haven't really been hitting too many balls hard lately," Wieters said. "The good thing is we've been still winning games."
With his leadoff single on Sunday, Xavier Avery has reached base in all seven games after his 0-for-4 Major League debut.
Veteran infielder Miguel Tejada, who reported to Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday after playing in extended spring camp with the Orioles, had two singles and an RBI in his first three at-bats for the Tides.
Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.