If you needed another reminder that Matt Wieters is one tough fella behind the plate, just look to Friday’s fourth inning.
Sean Rodriguez came barreling around third trying to score and Wieters stood in front of home while looking out to right field for the relay throw from Robert Andino (via Nick Markakis).
Wieters said he quickly glanced toward third and saw the 6-foot, 200-pound Rodriguez coming at him.
“You take a peek when he's about halfway down the line. I knew it was going to be a bang-bang (play),” Wieters said. “I wasn't sure he was going to slide or come in strong, and I made sure to hold onto the ball.”
Rodriguez leveled the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Wieters, who went flying into the left-hander’s batter’s box. And then he held the glove up with the ball inside it. Rodriguez out.
For a split-second it looked dire for Wieters. But he quickly shook off the collision.
“(Rodriguez) came in hard, but I felt OK after,” Wieters said. “I just walked out to the mound to make sure I was fine, but, no, everything was fine the whole way. I bit my lip, and that was about the worst of it.”
He also had a cut near his left ear – presumably from his catcher’s mask.
Rodriguez definitely lowered his shoulder on the collision and it looked like he might have gotten Wieters in the jaw with his forearm.
"I got something on the jaw,” Wieters said. “It's something where you feel it, but at the same time once I checked out the jaw, I was ready to go.”
When asked if he thought it was a clean play, Wieters said since he was blocking the plate, he didn’t give Rodriguez a great sliding option.
“I took away the plate, and you always check the replay, and I took away the plate pretty good. They always have the option to go around, but at the same time, if you take away the plate, at the same time, they always have the option to run over you, too, so it's part of the game. Thank God, I hung onto the ball.”
Here’s what Rodriguez had to say: “He’s definitely a lot bigger than me. I was out. His foot was in front of the bag so I got nowhere to slide. I have to get him and see if I could knock it loose. He held on to it. Credit to him.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter admits it wasn’t easy for him to watch. But he doesn’t believe it was a cheap shot delivered by Rodriguez. He had several people – including injured infielder Brian Roberts – look at the replay while the game was going on to confirm that.
“It's a tough game played by tough people on both sides of the diamond. It's an unfortunate part of it,” Showalter said. “Matt's blocking the plate there and didn't really give (Rodriguez) any avenue. It's tough to take your emotion out of that play because I love all my players, but in that situation there, you're looking for something and as much as I had Robby and different guys look at it, there's really nothing there. It's a good, hard, clean play, just like a good, hard slide at second base. And that's the way the game is played.”
I also have no problem with what Rodriguez did – though I didn’t get a chance to study the replay. But you know all of Baltimore had to hold its breath for a minute – afraid that the all-star catcher might be stuck in a Buster Posey moment.
Wieters was laughing after the game, saying it was “up there” as far as one of the hardest hits he has taken. His dad was here Friday and said he remembers a game Wieters played in high school in which he got hit in the mask and basically was out of it for about five innings.
Yet he still stayed in that game and caught. And he stayed in Friday’s game as well. Yeah, pretty tough guy.
For the record, Wieters will DH – at most – on Saturday, Showalter said. But that was the plan anyway.
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