07/09/2009 12:56 PM ET
Matt Wieters: Catching on with the O's
Top prospect likes the atmosphere, beds in the bigs
When I first arrived in the big leagues a month and a half ago, there was a lot to take in. As a catcher, you always have to put in a lot of work on and off the field. And at this level, you have so much more information available to digest and utilize. I knew it would be a challenge, but I'm excited about working toward my goals.
I'm seeing big league pitchers on a consistent basis for the first time, and I'm catching our 12 pitchers. It wasn't like I was starting fresh with our pitchers, though. I had caught some of our guys previously in Spring Training and in the Minor Leagues. That's certainly helped me, but there's still a big learning curve for a rookie catcher when it comes to calling your game, learning the hitters around the league and learning the umpires. It's a lot to take in, especially at first.
Off the field, I'm experiencing some new things, too. I've already had some cross-country flights. But a five-hour flight is nothing compared to some of the bus rides up or down the East Coast in the Minors, which can sometimes take 12 hours.
I also get my own room and a king-size bed in the Major Leagues. That's relaxing, especially after a game.
The beginning of my career has also been filled with a lot of media interviews. I try to take it in stride, because I know it's important to do to help advance the game and reach new fans. Fortunately, I gained some experience with the media while I was in the Minors, because I was considered a top prospect. So I'm somewhat used to it, and I actually enjoy it. It's just answering questions.
In the clubhouse, I think I have blended in well. From my standpoint, that aspect of the transition has been great. We have some great veterans who keep it light, and that helps make it fun. We also have five or six rookies whom I've played with in the past. It's good to have some familiar faces around when you're new to an environment.
Something else that has helped me is the relationship I have with our veteran catcher, Gregg Zaun. He's been huge for me. He's been catching at this level for a long time, and he has a story about every possible situation. There's a comfort for me in that. I know that I can go right to Gregg with any question I have. He's probably been in that situation before, and he'll tell me how he handled it.
Rookie catcher Matt Wieters, the fifth overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, made his Major League debut on May 29 at the age of 23. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound switch-hitter was batting .305 with five homers and 30 RBIs over 141 at-bats for Triple-A Norfolk when he was called up to the Orioles. After a slow start with Baltimore, the Charleston, S.C., native is batting .315 with three homers and a .375 on-base percentage over the last month.