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Wieters looking solid on defense

Wieters looking solid on defense

SEATTLE -- Everything else is measureable. Matt Wieters came to the Major Leagues with strong batting statistics and a sizable question mark attached to his defensive game. One week later, Wieters has impressed Baltimore's coaching staff with his receiving skills and ability to call a game.

Manager Dave Trembley has raved about his rookie catcher, saying that he's surprised at how prepared Wieters has been behind the plate. Trembley, who asked Wieters to watch a lot of video during Spring Training, made sure to credit his backstop for ushering southpaw Rich Hill through a dominant start on Monday night.

"I would think no one will ask me for a while if Wieters has the ability to call a game," said Trembley on Monday night. "He just passed that litmus test tonight. The preparation that they all put in before the game -- looking at tapes, going over other hitters -- it pays off. Wieters had a feel tonight. You've got to have a feel for what the guy is throwing on the mound and what the guys in the batter's box are doing. Wieters was on the same page."

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Wieters, a switch-hitting offensive prodigy, credited Hill for doing the heavy work and said that he learned enough about the left-hander in Spring Training to develop a feel for catching him. Hill returned the compliment, saying that Wieters helped calm him down and was the same guy who caught him at Triple-A Norfolk.

And in a way, that's why Wieters has been able to make such a smooth transition. Four of Baltimore's current starters -- Hill, Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez and Jason Berken -- have pitched at Norfolk this season.

"I think what's helped him is that he knows most of these guys," said Trembley. "He was the first guy [in Spring Training] that wanted to jump in down in the bullpen area and catch everybody. ... I think it's been to his advantage that he had those guys last year in [Double-A] Bowie, and this year he had them in Triple-A."

Wieters, the fifth overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, answered Trembley's challenge to study the league's hitters during Spring Training. He's used that knowledge -- along with his familiarity with Baltimore's pitching prospects -- to get a leg up and smooth his transition to the Major Leagues.

"He just looks comfortable," said Trembley. "He goes into meetings with [pitching coach Rick] Kranitz, he looks at the video. He just looks like he has a sense for what that pitcher's strengths are, but he also looks like he has an idea about what the plusses or minuses are about each guy that's getting into the batter's box.

"To me, I think that makes him a little bit different than most first-year players. Most first-year players are looking for help because they're unsure. He doesn't look like he's unsure of himself."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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