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Matt Wieters expected to be ready to return to Orioles when eligible - June 4

Catcher Matt Wieters will be eligible to return to the Orioles on June 4. According to Buck Showalter, that's exactly when the O's think he'll be ready to resume playing at the MLB level.

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The Orioles quietly claimed reliever Jorge Rondon from the Rockies over the weekend and optioned him to the minor leagues. That's what Dan Duquette does. He lies in wait, like a sniper. Someone will wander into his sights eventually. A random move like that does have consequences, which, in this case, were to transfer Matt Wieters to the 60-day disabled list to open a place on the 40-man roster for Rondon.

There was little risk in making that move because Wieters obviously wasn't going to be ready after 15 days and whenever he does come off the disabled list, that probably means Ryan Lavarnway is getting removed from the 40-man roster anyway. The move means that the earliest Wieters can rejoin the team is June 4.

Given his progress, or lack of progress, so far, even that date seemed like it might be ambitious. However, Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters before Tuesday's game that he expects Wieters to be ready in time for that June 4 date. That's a little bit more than three weeks from today.

It's a bold prediction considering that Wieters' current rehab progress is catching every other day in extended spring training games in Sarasota. The next step is back-to-back days but he is not there yet, according to the report.

What would it take for him to go from there to ready to catch MLB games by June 4? Perhaps once he's eased back into the workload without any problems, there won't be much farther for him to go, really just getting himself ready for game speed and facing live pitching again. That last part proved to be a challenge in spring training as Wieters was hitless in DH-only action before getting shut down after attempting to resume catching.

June 4, perhaps not coincidentally, is nearly one full year after Wieters' Tommy John surgery. It seems all that hopeful stuff about position players returning from the surgery sooner was just a lot of hopeful stuff with no grounding in reality - or at least not in Wieters' case. The Orioles have weathered his absence okay for the last month and they can surely make it another month before he is back.

A vague date for when Wieters might go out on rehab assignment is that he "could go on one next week". Even after he's back, the Orioles may have the ability to ease him back into MLB action since, fortunately, Caleb Joseph has performed well enough that they don't immediately have to have Wieters catching five days a week.

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