Wieters targets early June for return to Majors

Rehabbing catcher joins O's to work out during series against Marlins

Wieters targets early June for return to Majors

MIAMI -- With the finish line near on his rehabilitation, all things are going according to plan for Orioles catcher Matt Wieters.

The 29-year-old, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had on June 17, 2014, joined the team in Miami on Friday as the O's open a three-game weekend series with the Marlins.

Wieters has been playing in extended spring training games in Sarasota, Fla., and he joined up with the big league club for workouts over the next three days. He'll then head to Double-A Bowie on Tuesday, where he plans to catch every other day.

All things considered, Wieters said June 4 is a realistic possibility to come off the 60-day disabled list and play in his first Major League game since May 10, 2014.

"I think so. I feel pretty good to play," Wieters said. "The last few games I went out and played, the feelings of being able to get back into a big league game are there. It's not quite back to where it was yet, but it feels good enough to get back playing at this level."

Wieters added that he's close to having his arm back to full strength.

"It's actually been getting stronger each day I play [in extended spring training], and the day between the day off has been big with getting the rest and recovery," Wieters said.

Wieters also said the last two weeks have been particularly positive.

"I could really cut [throws] loose," Wieters said. "It's not cut it loose like it was before, but it's cut it loose as far as, mentally, I can let it go."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who has watched video of Wieters in Sarasota, is encouraged by what he has seen.

"Catching shape -- that's the least of his issues," Showalter said. "Hitting -- I think he's got more plate appearances than anybody here.

"I think it's good for him to have him around. ... He can see the finish line now. It's been a long road for him; let's hope everything goes well."

Caleb Joseph has filled in as the Orioles' starting catcher in place of Wieters. Entering Friday, he was batting .260 with three home runs and 14 RBIs this season.

Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.