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Matt Wieters return to Orioles now could be May 1 or even later

At the very least, it's now looking like the Orioles will be without catcher Matt Wieters for all of April, and it could still end up being longer than that.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Remember that time that we found out Matt Wieters was going to go on the disabled list for the start of the Orioles season, but that it was okay because he would be eligible to return as soon as April 11? Yeah, about that...

Prior to Wednesday's game against the Rays, O's reporters spoke to Wieters and found out that he would be heading to the minor league complex in Sarasota to continue his rehab, rather than continuing on to Baltimore with the rest of the team. When he was asked by O's reporters about May 1 as a possible return date, Wieters said that it seemed realistic but there is currently no target date for a return.

There's nothing shocking about a player or team soft-pedaling an injury. Whatever their reasons, that's just what they do. When there's nothing but vagaries, you have to expect that when you finally get something concrete, it's not going to match what was insinuated at the beginning. Eventually you find out the truth and the date pushes later and later. That's the way it goes.

Now we know why the backup to Caleb Joseph was an important competition to resolve. This is not just a player who will be on the roster for a week. It now seems like there will be no Wieters until at least May 1, and of course as we get closer to May 1 we may find out that date is getting pushed back as well.

Maybe it'll be Caleb Joseph getting the majority of the time with Ryan Lavarnway only doing day games after night games, in general. Maybe there will be a more equal split of the playing time between these two catchers. Maybe they'll call up Steve Clevenger for a day just to option him without letting him play in a game again, because it seems like someone thinks that is fun to do.

Where is Wieters at in his rehab? He has yet to throw on back-to-back days, though he told reporters that "the intensity has picked up," whatever that means. Even once he's back at full strength, he's going to need some rehab duty with a minor league affiliate to get back up to game speed and probably get in the at-bats he was unable to pick up during spring training.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Wieters was 0-for-spring training while serving mostly as a DH. He needs to get his timing back. It's not just because of the roster space crunch that the O's weren't willing to consider employing him only as a DH until he was healthy enough to catch. He also didn't look like a guy who was ready to step up and hit MLB pitching.

The Orioles turned out OK without Wieters for much of last year. It's looking like they'll have to manage the same for at least the first month of the 2015 season